Enabling Automation Success: What to do Before And After Deployment

Enterprise organizations all over the world have jumped on the RPA bandwagon. Your executive staff is asking questions about this automation technology: licensing, where it can help, and how quickly could it be up and running. Maybe you’ve deployed some bots already and are looking elsewhere for additional automation opportunities. Or maybe you’re just getting started. Where do you go from here? Below are a few key actions you must take – prior to implementation – that will enable you to deploy RPA faster and recognize better results.


Identify a starting point.

Just like every other major phase of your digital transformation journey, the starting point is very important. It may seem easy at first, as there seem to be myriad places that bots can be of value in any company. Refuse the urge to throw bots at a problem without details and a plan. First, make sure to get a complete and accurate picture of your current state business operations. Taking the time to get all this information will easily enable you to identify the areas that will have the most impact. And using an automated process discovery solution like FortressIQ will feed you those answers much more quickly, and with more detail so you can validate your recommendations with the team and proceed with confidence.

Define metrics for success.

Having a successful deployment model (or RPA roadmap) is crucial to maintain the momentum for bot utilization and maintenance. Many enterprise companies have purchased tens to hundreds of RPA licenses and have only used a fraction. Having a system to quickly identify with your team where to target automation and using auto process discovery methods to support the recommendations will keep you on track to deploy more rapidly and track along the way. We recommend creating a custom prioritization template with input from departmental subject matter experts (SMEs) and business analysts to define consistent mechanisms to track and report on progress.

Plan on rework.

While the implementation of bots has been made easier with more accurate documentation and easy coding, what is often unplanned for in an automation project is the fact that bots can and do break; they have to be constantly monitored and fixed. Enterprises that do not add in these steps, potential costs and overhead into an RPA project plan end up scrambling for resources when a problem occurs. Building this into your plan will ensure you have the resources to swiftly address problems and not get stuck spinning your wheels on rework.

Continuously check and pivot strategy.

At the end of each round of bot deployments, document how the process has changed and what the estimated ROI will be for those RPA licenses now in use. Taking this action will ensure you are checking on overall progress along the way. If you’d like to dig in a bit more on what it takes to make RPA successful, check out our infographic on questions to ask before implementing automation.

19th Century French Philosophy, SkyNet, and the 4 realities of RPA

Any cocktail party conversation about AI in Silicon Valley inevitably comes around to the topic of SkyNet and the subsequent post-apocalyptic, dystopian future that will inevitably befall us as AI becomes more powerful. While the Terminator series does paint a bleak future for humanity, the focus on SkyNet distracts from another central theme, that AI (cleverly disguised as Arnold Schwarzenegger) working with mankind is the best hope for a prosperous future. However, having experienced multiple organizations struggle with automation, the idea of AI/human integration, while great in theory, is challenging in practice.

‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’

Organizations on the transformation journey should take the counterintuitive approach of embracing both change and the status quo. This idea is embodied by French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” literally translated “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The notion that automation must work together with humans within many of the existing constructs of an organization, lays the groundwork for a successful strategy. This strategy must integrate the four realities of RPA, which will impact the majority of your enterprise processes.

Reality #1 – Your Processes Aren’t Going Away

Anyone that has worked with current RPA tools will tell you that they can be severely lacking, and that the chance of their automating one hundred percent of a process is between slim and none. A recent study by McKinsey echoes this, finding that on average about thirty percent of a process can be automated using today’s technologies. Even as this percentage creeps higher we have to deal with the fact that the activities automated are often not continuous, human judgement must often be interjected, and exceptions happen. All of this means todays automation technologies can’t support a fundamental rewrite of your processes, yet.

Reality #2 – Your IT Systems Aren’t Going Away

One the strengths of RPA is its ability to work with legacy systems, giving organizations the ability to get more miles out of their existing technology. It’s not just the systems here that matter, though. The overall enterprise IT architecture supporting the application of identity, change management, security, integrations, and infrastructure all are going to be around for a very long time.

Reality #3 – Your People Aren’t Going Away

If your processes aren’t going away, and your systems aren’t going away, your people can’t go away. While the actual number of people executing activities may drop, the groups involved in the process execution will likely increase. IT, Security, Risk, and Compliance will be more involved in the day to day operations, now that RPA is embedded in a process.

Reality #4 – Your Organization’s Structure Isn’t Going Away

If people, process and systems aren’t going away, neither are the organizations that support them. While we can all agree that no organization is perfect, there are oftentimes decades of best practices embedded in their policies and procedures. Every component of an organization has evolved with a specific purpose that, while maybe not obvious, will most likely need to be addressed in the context of RPA.

When constructing our go-to-market strategies, we look at how can we lower the “switching costs” of our solution. A high switching cost means higher risks, higher expenses (impacting ROI), and usually a built in constituency that doesn’t look at change favorably. The same is true about an automation program. Every time the people, process, systems or org need to change, the switching costs are increasing. The key to the speed, and success of an RPA program lies in figuring out how to leverage components of the existing, while delivering change. It will at times be necessary to make large, transformational changes, but a land and expand strategy, while delivering value, presents the highest likelihood of success.