Mary Lou Joseph
10 minute read
By Mary Lou Joseph
Posted in Customer Engagement
In a previous blog, How to Scale RPA Beyond a Pilot, we explored what an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) was, why it's needed, and how it's structured.
Today we'll dive into the lead roles and responsibilities of a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Center of Excellence (CoE). We have grouped these roles into functional areas:
Exactly who performs the roles may vary, but all of the activities outlined should be performed as part of your RPA CoE. If you want to cut to the chase and download the full, Creating an RPA Center of Excellence report now, click here.
Let's get started.
Business process experts will play a vital role in helping functions and business units identify, analyze and prioritize the tasks and processes to automate.
A quick rule of thumb:
Now I know what you are thinking. A LOT of tasks and processes could fall into the "what to automate" category. So where do you start?
We recommend creating a process prioritization or qualification matrix (click here for a sample template). The matrix will help prioritize the automations that will deliver the highest impact and return on investment (ROI).
It will also help you avoid "scriptaggedon," which is when business units go rogue and write scripts to automate anything and everything. The problem there is you lose control of who's done what, which can lead to chaos when changes are made or something breaks.
In fact, Gartner recommends organizations "evaluate and select RPA products that bundle certain capabilities (like automated process discovery) to accelerate the automation script life cycle from identification to implementation. Some product features are better aligned to the needs of a domain, or prebuilt templates/accelerators that are targeted at domain-specific types of tasks and systems." 1 These process discovery or mapping tools can help your experts optimize a process prior to automation. This way you don't automate a bad habit or unnecessary steps just because that's the way we've always done it."
Want to learn more about process discovery and mapping? Read the Verint whitepaper, Five Steps to Sustainable Process Improvement, to discover how you can create real-time visual process maps that highlight all processing paths, exceptions and variations, as well as process bottlenecks.
Are you still with me? Let's keep going with the most exciting responsibility for your BPI experts: measurement.
How to Measure the Impact and ROI from RPA
Measuring the impact of RPA is an exciting challenge. First, you need to identify what business outcomes you anticipate from each automation. Many look to RPA for cost and time savings, but there are many other benefits of RPA, including:
- Reducing the need for temporary staff during seasonal peaks
- Increasing quality by reducing errors and rework
- Enabling greater consistency and compliance by ensuring process steps are done according to regulatory requirements
- Improving customer experience by turning around work faster and more accurately
- Enhancing employee engagement by removing tedious, mind-numbing activities.
Here are just a few examples for RPA success stories.
In order to know if you've achieved the business outcome you desire, you need to know your current state. Your process experts can help you establish baseline metrics using Process Discovery and Process Analytics tools.
So you've identified and prioritized opportunities for automation; you've identified goals or success factors for each automation; and you've created baselines of how that work is performed today.
What's next? Measuring the results of the automations to ensure you are capturing the ROI.
This is where the real challenge lies. Measuring the results will likely require capturing data from multiple systems and groups, especially if the work is cross-functional. We recommend this data be integrated into a dynamic operational dashboard that can be shared with all stakeholders.
Ideally, the dashboard would enable you to compare the baseline, the improvement goal, and the actual savings achieved.
This operational dashboard will not only be crucial for proving out the ROI from robotic process automation, but it will also help front-line managers in their day-to-day job of balancing the work being performed by their new hybrid workforce -- the combination of digital workers (RPA software robots) and human employees.
Read the eBook: Humans and RPA Robots Working Side-by-Side: Are You Ready? to learn more about managing the hybrid workforce.
Speaking of humans . . .
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with RPA is not the technology, but the people impact.
So what do you do with your staff if you suddenly take 30 percent of their job away? What's left are the more complex inquiries or "exception" work. This type of work requires knowledge as well as critical and creative thinking -- skills that are not easily taught.
Your Human Resources group will need to be involved on a number of levels to:
For example, if a contact center agent has a goal of taking X number of calls per hour, and RPA can take over the data gathering, cutting and pasting tasks the agent performs, the agent can now take 2 to 3 times as many calls in that same hour, helping the agent achieve or overachieve their goal.
For example, if RPA robots are performing the standardized, rules-based tasks, organizations need employees with critical thinking and problem solving skills to address more complex "exception" work. For customer facing roles, employees will also need emotional intelligence or high empathy capabilities.
Whew! Who would have thought robotic process automation would have such an impact on HR? But that doesn't compare to the impact it has on IT.
As you might guess, IT has a major role to play in an RPA Center of Excellence. They are needed to help ensure:
Depending on the size and scale of your enterprise, you may have dedicated IT resources as part of your CoE. Your team would also need to work with IT responsible for overall infrastructure, as well as the application owners. That way any planned system changes or upgrades that might impact RPA robots can be addressed proactively.
I'm only going to touch on the roles and responsibilities of IT here. For greater detail, read our report, Creating an RPA Center of Excellence.
If you are reading this blog, then you likely know that traditional RPA, or "unattended RPA," are software robots that sit on a "virtual" desktop or server and perform tasks as an employee would. The IT infrastructure team would work with the vendor to scope the number and size of servers needed to support the robots.
Maintaining the operability of the robots is a complex undertaking, as any changes to application interfaces can impact the robots. Reactive and proactive plans and responsibilities for handling changes need to be laid out and assigned. To help ensure continued operability, a regular cadence of testing the automations (daily, weekly, monthly depending on the stability of your application environment) should be established -- and would likely be owned by the business units.
And you can't talk about IT today without talking about security.
RPA has inherent security benefits because it can reduce employee contact with sensitive data. In addition, when unattended RPA robots access applications containing sensitive information, this is from a centralized, secure location, which carries much less risk than globally distributed employee desktops.
Deploying RPA is similar to deploying and maintaining a business-critical enterprise application, so many of the same IT security procedures and governance apply. Roles and privileges-based access controls manage which users have access to publish which automations.
In addition, each robot and the work it performs needs to be fully auditable. Fortunately, many of today's RPA solutions come with built-in audit reports.
So the solution is deployed and being monitored -- but people come and go, and questions arise as to how to use the solution. Who you gonna call?
The enterprise RPA CoE typically acts as a first level help desk should a problem or question arise in the business units on the software. The RPA CoE would need to have its own experts fully versed in how the RPA software works in order to troubleshoot issues. These could be individuals from IT or the business. They would likely have train-the-trainer status for the RPA solution.
One last thought on IT.
Another key role that would live within the CoE is the inventory of process automations. The inventory would serve several purposes. It would:
The inventory enables both IT and the business to understand the logic behind the automations. It also enables you to break down larger process automations into repeatable tasks that can be leveraged by multiple functions, such as cut and paste from system to system, or application navigations.
Think about it like this. If you ask five different managers to build an Excel spreadsheet to track an activity, more than likely you'll get five different spreadsheets. By creating core automations that are repeatable, the logic and format behind these common automations will be the same across the organization.
Enough with IT. Let's wrap with the roles and responsibilities of the business units.
It is in the business units where the automations begin and end. They are the ones who know the processes and tasks involved and can identify and build the business case for RPA. Many organizations look to their front-line employees for automation ideas; asking them what could make their lives easier. Read this blog for a loan officer example.
The business units not only identify the automation opportunities, but they are responsible for the adoption of the tools and process changes. Working with HR, the business units would customize the communications plans around the value of RPA. They would also establish their own change management approach and metrics to monitor progress.
In the end, the business units are the ultimate beneficiaries of automation. RPA helps them increase efficiencies, solve business problems, and improve both employee and customer experience.
I hope I've given you an idea about the scope of roles and responsibilities in an RPA CoE. What do you think? Any activities you think I am missing? Please add your comments and thoughts below.
Are you still game? Then look for my next blog on when and how you get started creating an RPA CoE.
For more information on Robotic Process Automation, visit www.verint.com/robotics or download the report, Creating an RPA Center of Excellence.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Unattended, Attended, and Hybrid?
Robotic Process Automation Maturing from Hype to Value
High Turnover? Need Fast Onboarding? Process Assistant Can Help
1 Gartner, Predicts 2019: RPA Evolution, Stephanie Stoudt-Hansen et al., December 6, 2018
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