Robotic process automation (RPA) is transforming the way many types of organizations do business. Companies want to embrace the transformative technology but struggle with where to start, what processes to automate, and how to measure the baselines, which can result in their projects being dead on arrival—an estimated 60 to 70 percent of initial RPA projects fail to meet expectations according to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation & Artificial Intelligence.
We’ve outlined the six steps of RPA implementation, packed with best practices and real-world examples to support your RPA journey with the right amount of knowledge and strategy. With this helpful framework to get you focused on the right objectives, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and sustainable digital transformation.
1. Learn What RPA Is and What It Is Not
Start by understanding what RPA can and cannot do. RPA technology helps your organization run more efficiently by taking repetitive manual tasks and handing them over to software robots. However, these bots do not self-learn, think, or act on their own—humans are still the “brains” of the operation. But by working together with a digital workforce, employees can focus more of their time on more complex, value-added work functions.
Check out these resources to help you better understand what RPA is and is not:
- Everything You Need to Know About RPA in 30 Minutes
- What is Robotic Process Automation? A Guide to RPA
2. Identify Potential RPA Opportunities
Hearing about the benefits of RPA will make you want to automate everything. But to be successful, you need to start small. As you get started, the best processes to automate are repetitive, routine, and otherwise mundane tasks—like data entry and extraction.
We’ve created a robust collection of resources to help guide you through the process of identifying opportunities for automation.
3. Select Initial Use Cases and Define Success Criteria
Once you’ve created your wish list, it’s time to narrow down your choice for an initial use case. Rank your wish list by considering the time saved, frequency, criticality, and effort it would take to automate, and choose the process that checks the most boxes. Then you can define what will deem your pilot a success by seeing how RPA improves each of those areas.
Check out these resources to help you further identify and define your success:
4. Pilot Solution for Initial Use Case
There are lots of RPA solutions out there, but they’re not all created equal. This is a great time to trial an RPA solution. A trial not only lets you test out RPA, but also helps you find the right solution for your unique organizational needs and get comfortable with the software. Look for vendors who can offer end-to-end process support while also having the capabilities to become fully operational quickly.
Look for vendors who can offer end-to-end process support while also having the capabilities to become fully operational quickly.
Once you’ve identified a potential RPA solution, the next step is to observe the solution working within your business environment. A POC will help to validate that the automation solution will meet the goals of your organization, so you can feel confident moving forward with wider implementation.
Check out these items to help get your POC off the ground:
5. Measure Results and Document Lessons Learned
With the clearly defined success criteria from Step 3, it should be easy to measure the results of your pilot use case. Take a look back at how things went and document what went well, what could’ve been better, and any other lessons learned. Compare the costs of implementation, deployment, and maintenance against how much time is saved, if accuracy is improved, and how little human intervention is needed. This will help you determine if you want to move forward with an RPA solution.
We’ve created a robust collection of resources on how to develop an RPA business case, including how to calculate ROI and how to get buy-in from leadership.
6. Expand to Next Use Case and Repeat Pilot, Measure, & Expand Steps
If you liked what RPA software had to offer and were happy with the results of your pilot use case, it’s time to expand.
Create an RPA Roadmap
Move down your automation wish list from Step 2 and create a plan to try RPA in other areas of your organization. Act as an RPA evangelist to help get more people on board with this powerful technology. The steps of the RPA journey don’t have to end as there’s always processes that can be streamlined through RPA.
Develop a Center of Excellence Framework
Set yourself up for future growth by developing a framework that helps identify automation priorities and opportunities, and prevents you from reinventing the wheel every time you bring automation to a new part of the company.
Get the Robotic Process Automation Toolkit
The RPA Toolkit includes the resources you need to achieve an advanced automation strategy. With a weighted matrix to help you prioritize automation opportunites and an easy-to-use ROI calculator, these tools will help you take your RPA journey to the next level.