Automation Roadmap: A Proactive Solution to RPA Implementation & Improvements
When looking at implementing automation, many companies take the approach of investing in process improvements through RPA on an ‘as needed’ basis.
But with the right strategies and a forward-thinking roadmap in place, automation doesn’t have to be an afterthought – it can be your businesses’ key to staying in front of profitability and emerging technologies.
An automation roadmap can help an organization steer clear of the dangerous trap of being reactionary to emerging trends vs. proactive. Always having to pivot and turn based on new technology only makes the problem worse and usually comes with a pretty high price tag.
With the creation of an automation roadmap, an organization is establishing standards, prioritizing upgrades and listing out assets/processes that can be improved through future RPA automation. It also allows for the categorization of the ‘most critical, at-risk’ needs to the ‘nice to have’ tasks of the future.
By having a comprehensive automation roadmap, an organization is showing they no longer are happy with quick fixes within their processes that will eventually break once again. It is a clear sign of innovation and belief in the profitable future of your business.
Here are some tips to get started in establishing an Automation Roadmap:
Know your overall business goals & objectives
This might seem like a given, but without a thorough understanding of what your business is working towards during the next three to five years, an automation roadmap is nothing more than a disjointed wish list.
The careful dissection and understanding of the company’s larger mission is a benchmark to everything else you put on your roadmap. It is your starting point – but it is also the end point – does everything within your roadmap allow you to achieve the stated business goals and objectives? If so, then your roadmap is headed in the right direction.
Break Down Each Business Unit & How They Feed into Business Goals
While many believe automation doesn’t reach beyond IT, forward-thinking, efficient departments in companies everywhere are discovering the power of automation for the completion of repeatable, daily human tasks.
This in depth understanding of the tasks each unit performs to achieve the overarching business goals is paramount to RPA success. We recommend companies form a multi-discipline RPA taskforce made up of various departments so each business unit is represented.
With the expertise brought to the table by each unit, your roadmap task force can then speak intelligently to even the most mundane of processes in the smallest of departments that can benefit with RPA implementation – leaving nothing forgotten or overlooked.
Cite Departmental Inefficiencies, Shortfalls & Reliability Issues
Now, this section of your roadmap isn’t a place to vent about the way Marjorie enters the Accounts Receivable Checks into the System backwards.
Rather, it is the time to get all of the antiquated, manual processes on the table and discuss whether automating makes sense. This is also the time to stack up your processes against industry standards and decide which are currently operating inefficiently or at a disadvantage due to lack of technology.
Such processes could include the manual entry of payroll, the processing of invoices, employee onboarding, other accounting or HR functions – anything that can possibly free up human hands to do more intelligent work — AND make processes more accurate & efficient.
This stage of your roadmap is the ‘blue sky’ section. While there are simple tasks that can be automated, there might be some automation ‘what ifs’ that should be discussed.
Legitimize & Prioritize
You’ve done the work, you’ve outlined the tasks and also listed all the possibilities. Now it is time to put some weight behind it.
Look through all of your tasks and figure out which are legitimate concerns for your business. When looking for legitimate concerns, take into consideration things that might jeopardize the security of customer or employee data, high risk tasks, conformity with government regulation & customer service practices – anything that is core to the way you do business and make money – basically, the practices that keep you in business.
Then, look through each proposed automation ‘request’ department by department and give each an importance rating of 1 through 10 – with 1 being the most important. When looking through the tasks, think of them not only on a process level, but an efficiency level.
For instance, if you automated payroll, Lucy would not have to manually enter in everyone’s time sheets twice a month (12 hours a month). She wouldn’t have to manually figure out all the taxes (25 hours a month), or generate the checks (5 hours a month) and then hand deliver them (2 hours a month). She also wouldn’t have to figure out how to fix a few mistakes brought her attention (3 hours). If payroll was automated, it would free up 47 hours of Lucy’s time a month and that equates to a $20,000 savings each year. (Also without that on her plate, Lucy can refocus her attention to employee retention & recruitment efforts.)
Outline the Plan of Action
Not all of the RPA requests on your list can possibly get done at once. And if you rated them accordingly, your list shows a gradual progression of automation process importance.
Within your plan of action, list the department, the task, the estimated cost savings per year and the timeframe you’d like to see it accomplished. Do this for your top 10 tasks, as these are your priorities.
Present Your Plan for Consideration
If you’re sitting on an automation roadmap committee, your organization has already admitted there are areas where automation can greatly improve business operations and profitability down the road.
When presenting a case for process automation to leadership, show them the numbers. In every single type of business, money talks. Show the possible savings & automation sells itself.
Further demonstrate, through presenting your research, how RPA can save major money down the line, increase security and how it can benefit the customer downstream. Chances are, your leadership has already heard the buzz about this – but let the data do the talking.
After presenting, your leadership more than likely will take your information behind closed doors and decide whether or not to allocate money, how quickly they want to move and whether they agree with your priority set. Always be prepared for additional questions, follow up research or various other ad hoc requests.
Lastly, don’t lose sight of your roadmap. This document is gold. It is a living, breathing handbook to what you need to get done to achieve business goals and it is also a recorded text of all improvements that can be made. Items can be added or taken off – it constantly changes and improves as an organization’s knowledge of RPA & its capabilities grow.
Many organizations go into automation projects without fully understanding what it can do to benefit the entire organization – not just one business unit. When a roadmap is put into place, leadership has a full picture of what can be achieved and then, can understand & plan in a proactive way, all the changes needed to stay profitable and on the cutting edge of its industry.
The DISYS Difference:
Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC has created ACE to enable companies to realize the best value from robotics is achieved when coupled with process re-engineering. ACE is not used only to ‘fix’ broken processes — but to also re-imagine and optimize them.
ACE is part of a growing Process Automation wave where new innovations occur daily, fueling our commitment to ongoing process improvement and constant learning and refining of this cutting-edge technology solution.
Through its implementation, DISYS has helped accelerate the manual RSA token assignment and decommissioning process for a major healthcare provider, automate the movement of data from legacy systems without APIs to PeopleSoft which removed errors and reduced FTEs and developed an automation compliance system for customer accounts for a major banking institution.
DISYS is committed to accelerating productivity within your organization by not only improving an organization’s practices, but partnering with clients to make sure process improvement is constantly evolving, as the technology evolves.