How to start Robotics Process Automation (RPA)?
Even if the planned changes in the company will bring positive results in the short or long term, things like changing employee responsibilities, introducing new technologies, and changing daily routines usually do not come easily. The stumbling blocks can be both on the part of management, who struggle to understand how to start the change journey and which processes to automate, and on the part of employees, for whom change can create a sense of insecurity.
“Routines give employees stability because when they start work each morning, they know the tasks and processes that need to be done, so any changes that are planned in the company need to be prepared for," says Māris Miezītis, partner at Digital Mind.
To start Robotics Process Automation (RPA), he recommends organizing a workshop for company employees that will help identify the most suitable processes for automation, involve colleagues from the outset to reduce fear of change, and provide a roadmap for further changes.
1. Team building
Preparing and involving affected employees in the change process is essential for the RPA to go smoothly and easily. A team needs to be put in place that includes not only process managers, but also colleagues from other departments involved in the process, as the manager will not always know the specific details. Both historical information from experienced employees and “fresh” perspectives on company processes from new colleagues are important. The involvement of people from the field of IT with knowledge of existing applications and systems is also essential.
2. Employee survey
The best source of information is the company's employees, as they are confronted with process gaps and challenges on a daily basis. A survey of colleagues will give you an idea of which processes take the longest, where most employees are involved, and where the most human errors are made. It will also allow assessing whether processes related to customer service or administrative functions, etc., should be automated. The survey will serve as a guideline for the implementation of the RPA.
3. RPA testing
One process should be chosen as a test to see how it will work in the future and to be sure that RPA is really needed for the future development of the company. The process to be selected should take into account the employee survey, the complexity of the process (how many steps are needed to get the job done, how many employees are involved, whether the process requires employee involvement, etc.), and the stability (how often and how much the process changes over time, whether it includes critical functions, etc.). A process should be selected that does not require human intelligence, that invariably involves repetitive actions, such as data transfer from one program to another, data extraction and conversion, email archiving, preparation of reports and statements, file processing, and storage.
A very suitable process to start automation tests with is the invoice management process. Currently, there are various technologies available on the market that make it easy and quick to build such processes on your own without the need for IT resources. For example, Microsoft Power Platform offers ready-to-use tools to automate the invoice process from the moment the document is received until it is entered into the accounting system. As Microsoft Power Platform also includes dedicated tools for building complete RPA processes, there is almost no limit to the applications that are automated.
4. Introducing automation
Once you are convinced of the effectiveness and necessity of RPA, you can proceed with the implementation of automation based on the needs of your organisation. During the assessment, a long list of processes to automate may have emerged. In this case, RPA can be introduced in stages, as it is important that all employees understand what it means and get used to their new "robot" colleagues gradually.
RPA ensures higher productivity, reliability, consistency, consistently high quality, low technical barrier due to no need for complex programming, cost reduction, involvement of employees in higher value-added processes.
You can watch the presentation by Digital Mind partner Māris Miezītis here.