RPA (or Robotic Process Automation) is one of the most effective transformation initiatives that enterprises take to implement significant internal changes. For some years now, businesses wanting to enhance efficiency and reduce costs have been increasingly adopting RPA technology.
The simplicity of implementation of RPA, however, should not be taken lightly. Due to the great impact of RPA on business processes, organizations must approach such projects with the same attention and meticulousness as any other IT project.
Besides, RPA may not be suitable for automating any process, and companies should critically analyze the processes for automation to avoid the risk of a negative ROI on the project.
From our experience in guiding businesses of all sizes, we’ve managed to collect the best RPA implementation practices for those companies who wish to adopt RPA to increase their operational efficiency.
In this article, we will share these practices with you, i.e. will dive deeper into the term 'Center of Excellence' which we believe is a great starting point in any company automation journey.
What is an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)
RPA technology has been adopted to improve efficiency, reduce labor costs, and eliminate human errors among other benefits. However, implementing it requires critical understanding, planning, and effort. We recommend setting up an internal RPA Center of Excellence (COE) to adequately monitor the process, assess its performance, intervene to solve any arising problems and ensure continuous smooth operation till the end.
An RPA Center of Excellence incorporates necessary resources to lead the project, allows enterprises to deeply embed the technology, and enables organizations to automate mundane tasks that human workers are often tasked with.
The structuring of an internal Center of Excellence (CoE) allows the companies to instill an innovation culture to initiate and govern the adoption of the RPA, become independent of third-party suppliers, and monitor the alignment of RPA with business strategy.
The CoE also supervises that the employees involved in the RPA adoption process have the necessary skills and aptitude to grasp it effectively, and identify further opportunities to scale the technology inside the enterprise, thus enabling a culture of continuous process improvement.
To explain in simple words:
An RPA CoE helps to regulate the framework for RPA deployment within an organization, so it can carry out a project that has a faster time to market. Additionally, it offers direction that helps the company define the prerequisites for successful adoption, and provides the resources necessary to make the technology functional and ready for implementation.
Requirements to create an RPA CoE
For businesses wanting to adopt RPA implementation centrally, here are a few prerequisites to help manage a full RPA lifecycle.
Performing a needs analysis
Just because automating a process theoretically makes sense does not mean that it necessarily adds value for the company from a commercial point of view. It is crucial to analyze the opportunities of RPA automation by examining use cases where such companies were able to achieve the desired results. When preparing for RPA adoption, it is important to identify which processes need to be automated.
The suitability of a process for automation can be verified by taking into account these points:
- The process is manual and repetitive. If the process does not require a lot of manual labor (on PC), the potential for savings through automation is probably just as low.
- It is crucial to have actionable data – input data that can be processed by the computer.
- There should be a clear trigger for the process.
- The process is rule-based.
- The process is documented in detail.
An enterprise needs to establish clear standards, procedures, and policies for the RPA adoption by setting up a governance board responsible for creating guidelines, building up a team to oversee the process and segregating the duties, etc. The governance will be overseen by a steering committee that provides overall guidance and promotes RPA adoption within the company.
The committee will ensure that compliance, information security requirements, and regulatory standards are met. It will also decide on the prioritization of tasks and the level of access provided to the different teams or employees.
Choosing the right technology
The RPA CoE board is responsible for choosing the right automation tools and taking care of the maintenance and support aspects of those tools. It will also oversee the RPA integration in critical areas such as IT service management and database configuration management.
Setting up an RPA CoE
Moving forward, the next stage of creating the CoE entails these steps:
Hiring talent for successful RPA implementation
The next important step is to build a strong RPA team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Identify the RPA sponsor, bring in a project manager, solution architect, developers, infrastructure, and service support who will play key roles in the development of the CoE.
The team must make out how to work well together, establish and adhere to the procedures, and measure business metrics and performance, to ensure everything is on the right track.
The RPA CoE team will be a multidisciplinary team with multiple roles and functions to perform:
- RPA sponsor: He will oversee the robotics strategy and ensure that CoE is established as a company-wide priority.
- Head of CoE: He is the CoE leader who will be responsible for CoE activities and performance reporting.
- RPA Project Manager: He will ensure that the project is carried out successfully following the timelines, budget, and standards.
- RPA Champions: They will lead the RPA adoption process across the enterprise.
- Business Analysts: They are subject matter experts who will create the definitions and process maps used for automation. They are responsible to identify opportunities, provide a detailed analysis of the potential benefits and the resources required.
- Solution Architect: He is responsible for the detailed design and licensing requirements of the project, and oversees the RPA infrastructure from start to finish.
- Developers: They are responsible for the technical design, development, and testing of the CoE automation workflows. They will offer support during the organization-wide RPA implementation.
- Infrastructure Engineers: They will offer infrastructure support for server troubleshooting and installation.
- Controller and Supervisor: Responsible for monitoring, scheduling, and supporting the implementation of the CoE and making sure all activities are carried out as usual.
- Service and Support: They are the first line of assistance in case of issues arising during the implementation of the CoE.
Deciding on the CoE Model
Depending on the scale and capabilities, organizations can choose three models for implementing an RPA CoE.
In this model, a single CoE team comprising experts from different departments is responsible to perform all CoE functions. They will also provide a single set of practices to evaluate, implement, monitor, and maintain the entire project.
By adopting this model, the decision-makers/stakeholders can view all initiatives such as getting a complete view of end-to-end process changes in a centralized location.
In this model, the departments separately deal with setting up their CoE guidelines to deploy automation. This model also promotes a certain level of competition – which business unit will master the technology and show results first. The CoE will offer support in the context of standardization and providing shared licensed assets.
In our experience, this model is popular among contemporary organizations and results in open collaboration, sharing of knowledge, which helps in effectively dealing with issues that may occur during the implementation phase.
We, at ElectroNeek, follow the “Functional Method” because it places few constraints on every department. Also, due to the decentralized delegation of manufacturing competencies to the departments, the identification of processes for automation, and the deployment process itself becomes faster.
The Hybrid model combines the features of the Functional and Centralized CoE model and is more suitable for mature automation initiatives. Here, the Business units are engaged in setting up their guidelines for the development, testing, and acceptance of bots. The CoE will only offer supervision in terms of checking the finished bots.
Launch and scale the RPA CoE
Once the above considerations have been made, it is time to set up the RPA CoE. A proper CoE will be the launching platform to scale RPA. Therefore, it is important to assess that the strategic expectations are met. The CoE team will inform the stakeholders about the overall performance, take feedback, and document lessons learned.
The process of setting up the CoE involves numerous complex processes, which is why we are offering some guidelines to keep in mind:
1. It is nice to have a big picture in mind, but take small steps, so you can analyze the process and assess what changes are needed mid-project, what adjustments should be made, and where automation can be utilized. You can also use the same plan for future scale-ups.
2. The CoE will help in freeing up the time spent on repetitive tasks and empower employees to focus on strategic work. At the same time, involving subject-matter experts such as ElectroNeek will help in completing the project successfully within the expected timeline and budget.
3. Selecting the right talent is very critical to set up an RPA CoE, because those executives will be contributing skills and ideas to handle essential tasks and resolve issues efficiently during the process.
As your company grows, its needs will also change and your CoE should be equipped to handle such requirements. Your CoE should make it easier to scale up and develop more bots to get the job done in less time.
In short, it will be easier to add bots to your workforce than hire and train new staff, but it will be possible only if your CoE has the capability to handle the demand.
Learn how you can build and deploy bots using ElectroNeek's platform quickly because it does not restrict you to have intensive programming skills. Book a demo!
Factors to consider when creating an RPA CoE
When establishing an RPA CoE, a company may make mistakes that may result in a significant increase in budget or unsuccessful implementation. To avoid it, follow these tips:
- Involve the RPA vendor in the creation of the CoE:
RPA vendors, due to their expertise and an experienced workforce, can offer suggestions for cost-effective and successful project completion. It will be more profitable to attach a trusted RPA vendor such as ElectroNeek, who has relevant experience with similar projects. Involving the vendor during the first phase will help avoid foreseeable challenges and finish the project within the budget.
- Avoid acting impulsively:
Executives (of a company) with no experience in selecting the right processes for automation, making an assessment of the project’s impact on the business, and understanding the bigger picture will likely behave impulsively.
To avoid this, we recommend involving an RPA vendor from the beginning who will guide in developing the strategy and what should be done to carry out the project successfully.
One example of such collaboration is selecting the right operating model for establishing the CoE. A company may want to try an operating model at the starting stage and suddenly decide to change the person-in-charge or the model itself. Making changes midway may hurt the adoption process, but only the experienced RPA vendor will be able to understand the functional requirement of each model and offer guidance on what is meaningful and relevant with the CoE strategy.
- Distribute time properly:
For a fail-proof RPA adoption across the enterprise, it is crucial to devote proper time to oversee the process. However, the internal RPA team consists of employees from different departments who have agreed to take on the additional responsibility of creating the CoE. The project may be eating up their substantial time, and they could be unable to spend time on other projects.
Involving an RPA vendor to lead the way, save your time, and finish the project efficiently will solve this problem. It is worth liaising with a vendor who already has piloted RPA projects will help avoid mistakes and save a huge amount of time.
- Map out the right processes:
For a smooth creation of the CoE and RPA implementation, it is worth consulting the RPA vendor to achieve a sufficient level of success.
Whether it is your first launch roll-out or not, your RPA vendor will offer guidance on mapping out the processes for automation, identifying metrics to measure performance, pointing out the efforts and resources needed to complete the project, and providing worthwhile results in terms of accuracy, ROI, and time-saving.
An RPA CoE offers many benefits that can dramatically improve business capabilities, but creating a CoE that exactly matches your expectations is almost a challenge.
Partnering with an experienced RPA vendor to set up your CoE can help companies manage the full RPA cycle, from the needs analysis, identifying the suitable process for automation, creation of a business use case, and embedding RPA successfully within the organization.
ElectroNeek helps MSPs in establishing well-organized CoE for their end-users. Contact us to learn more about our partnership tiers and features available for your specific business.
To make the process of digging into the topic easier, we have created a checklist on the effective implementation of RPA in your organization. Download it to have it at your fingertips and stay confident in your RPA implementation initiatives.