Before the coronavirus pandemic, we could have said that RPA was an innovative solution for visionary companies that wanted to be a step ahead of the competition. But last year showed us how important it is to embrace digital transformation and to adapt to the „new normal” in order to survive and be successful in a business context full of uncertainty.
In 2020, digitisation was a real disruptor. Some industries were certainly more affected by COVID-19 than others and therefore, they were more eligible to be transformed using technology: robotic process automation proved to be a solution that helped an increasing number of worldwide companies and industries adapt and even grow.
From the main operational business processes, to managing remote working teams, RPA implementation was crucial to ensure business continuity in an efficient way. But what’s more important, companies seemed to understand that technology is here to stay and robotic process automation will only continue to grow in the post-COVID era.
From now on, companies will need more and more technology and automation. There is no turning back after leaders see the benefits: software robots can be used to automate a variety of assignments, such as high-volume, repetitive, rule-based tasks – enabling employees to handle the more important ones, with high-added value and providing more flexibility and cost efficiency within the company.
In fact, 48% of global businesses are planning to increase their RPA spendings in the next year by 5% or more, according to a UiPath study called The Future of Work: A Pandemic Spotlight, commissioned by UiPath.
We can clearly conclude that RPA already plays a significant role in the recovery after the pandemic. Automation is an opportunity to provide more efficiency, cost savings and increase the company’s overall competitive advantage. And for heavily regulated industries, such as finance and accounting, RPA implementation can be used to deliver much higher-quality results by reducing the risk of errors. As an official UiPath partner, we’ve experienced first hand with our customers just how instrumental automation is for businesses to survive and, moreover, to thrive in the post-COVID era.
We have said it before: automation is slowly becoming mandatory for most businesses. Find out why from our recent article about RPA in 2021: digital transformation during the pandemic.
Recommendations for a successful RPA implementation in 2021
We all agree that RPA is a key-factor for the overall success of every company. But in order to achieve rapid ROI, RPA implementation has to be carefully planned before. Stakeholders should understand that implementing robotic process automation in 2021, when we still face a lot of uncertainty, requires a well-thought strategy. Let’s see what are the most important recommendations for this:
1. Analyze your business as a whole in order to identify the processes eligible for automation
Firstly, you should evaluate the workflow, the business processes, and departments from within the company. Take into account that robotic process automation can be successfully implemented for tasks that hold the following characteristics:
- Low-value, simple tasks
- Prone to error
2. Prioritize: select processes that can be easily automated
Even though you may identify multiple activities where RPA could be implemented, depending on your core business, you should prioritize which tasks could (and should) be automated in the first place. It can be the sales department, the HR or the financial department – where we all know there are a lot of high-volume, repetitive tasks and paperwork to deal with.
Speaking of HR, for example, Arya is a software robot we built using UiPath technology that helps Provident with on-boarding and off-boarding, performing multiple tasks such as updating the list of candidates for a job from Facebook and internal recommendations, creating offers for candidates that were interviewed and approved to move forward in the recruitment process, and more.
3. Choose the right RPA implementation partner
Unfortunately, in times of crisis you don’t always have much time to think about the best way to implement RPA, so choosing the right partner to help you with this important step can be crucial. But how do you choose your implementation partner? First of all, by asking the right questions:
- Does your partner have experience and extensive know-how about robotic process automation?
- Do they have the skills to help you identify a custom solution that fits your company’s needs?
- Are they capable of training and assisting your team in creating/managing an RPA Centre of Excellence, and all the changes that it brings?
4. Create positive relations with stakeholders
A crucial ingredient for every company’s success is its organizational culture. For a successful RPA implementation, management should be completely on board and aware of the benefits that robotic process automation provides, and of the predictions about the return on investment (ROI) rate.
Then, it is just as important to support your team through this transformation, by communicating with them in a clear, empathic way. Fear of losing jobs may come up when hearing about working side by side with software robots. You should strive to explain that this won’t be happening. Instead, tell your employees that technology is meant to relieve them from mundane tasks, and increase their productivity and motivation. Offer them possibilities to upskill in order to collaborate with the newfound automation tools, and to add value to your business.
5. Train your employees
Robotic process automation still needs human intervention to be successfully used, so RPA training within the company is crucial for a smooth implementation. Therefore, you should teach employees how to collaborate with software robots and how to monitor their work.
The training should include technical aspects, like program management, but also some soft skills, like time management, for example. Keep in mind that you should constantly check how people are adapting to the new way of working. Ask for their feedback.
6. Invest in a strong IT department
Having the right in-house technical specialists is also very important for your RPA implementation. Your automation partner should team up with the IT department in order to face the technical problems that may occur, or to choose the right solution for some specific needs of your company. In this way, the IT department can also contribute to enhancing the benefits of RPA.
7. Constantly optimize processes
After your RPA implementation, it is crucial that you to monitor the outcome, ask for feedback, and be ready to improve processes when needed – for example when the company may face regulatory changes or market pressures. The key to a successful RPA implementation lies in the ability to adjust to the company’s needs. But there is no need to hurry – it takes time to test, run and evaluate the solution in order to see its impact.
8. Measure performance
Having the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place is also important when it comes to evaluating the way the robotic process automation achieves its goal within the company. These metrics may include, for example, the evaluation of the employees’ productivity level, by comparing the time in which RPA finishes a task with the time in which people used to perform the same task.
Implementing robotic process automation in 2021 is a complex process that requires a strong foundation and cooperation between all stakeholders, but also the ability to adapt fast, to evaluate and constantly optimize processes, establishing a homogeneous RPA program.
Thus, choosing the right RPA partner is crucial. In fact, long-term automation success depends on the quality of the partnership between your company and the RPA service provider, given the complexity of the software integration and the overall challenges that may arise.