Start your RPA project from streamlined, end-to-end business processes
Balance implementation speed and sustainability of the RPA solution
Cultural adaptation and aftercare are keys to success
Working with clients, we observed three major challenges that will sound familiar to many managerial ears:
At least two of these challenges are not new. Why would a company choose Robotic Process Automation or software robots to address them? What makes robotization a better solution than the still ongoing wave of software automation and customization that started in the early nillies?
Two important insights explain the growing interest in robots.
We believe in the concept of digital self-service. Software robots can be developed by finance professionals or subject matter experts themselvesBenjamin De Leeuw - CFO Services RPA evangelist
RPA is often seen as a goal in itself, whereas it is more of a means to optimize processes or fulfill a particular need. ‘RPA is one of many tools to make processes more efficient, suitable to specific processes that show certain properties,' project manager Benjamin De Leeuw says. A company trying to implement robots without identifying suitable processes and setting goals risks disappointing its business users.
RPA sponsors will then quickly lose support for their implementations. It is therefore important to define the main criteria to identify automation opportunities and to recognize the right conditions for processes to be automated.
In this article, we briefly describe the TriFinance approach to RPA, sharing eleven best practices to run your RPA projects.
Selecting your RPA cases:
TriFinance approaches RPA projects end-to-end says Financial Institutions Business Manager Stéphanie Struelens: 'To identify RPA candidate processes, our experts start in a center of excellence or work with a business team to screen all organizational processes, an activity they excel in because they have acquired specific business knowledge from operational projects and project implementations. Having identified suitable processes, we do an RPA assessment: a scorecard of criteria is used to assess whether a process is really a case for robotization'. The next step is conversion into a business case to prioritize the tasks to be robotized based on savings and other parameters related to business value and operational risk.
Optimizing processes, and developing the robots:
With the robotization case selected, TriFinance expertst start small Agile cycles of analysis, implementation and testing. The first important step is to streamline and optimize the underlying processes to ensure that the process to be automated is running smoothly. Automating a process that is deficient definitely is a no-go. Once that has been done, TriFinance RPA experts start to work out business requirements.
The bridge is then made between the business client and the scripters, following up on the implementation and supporting scripters by helping them answer questions from their business colleagues. After testing the robot, we ensure a smooth handover to the business. The TriFinance team extensively supports users and other stakeholders during this transition period with training and RPA awareness sessions.
During the Virtual Expert Session, a participant from a multinational industrial company illustrated how RPA awareness can be of crucial importance. ‘RPA is a tool in your toolbox to optimize processes and it should not only optimize finance processes,’ he said. ‘It is about bringing value to the organization and that is where the company is now stuck’. Trying to optimize various processes in the company’s shared services center, they got stuck looking for processes to automate.
Financial Institutions business manager Stéphanie Struelens indicated that the business users who should be suggesting processes often don’t know what a robot can do. 'That is why you should first organize RPA awareness sessions,' she says. 'Start working top-down with management selecting an interesting robotization case.'
A successful deployment can show business users the added value of a bot as a proof of concept. In the long term, a bottom-up approach is preferable to get the buy-in from all the people in your organization. In some companies, process teams or black belt teams exist to identify cases that should be improved or automated. A participant of the Virtual Expert session explained how this approach is used in her company. Process teams bring added value because they can look beyond departments to examine the end-to-end processes.
To save unnecessary costs, it is crucial to first determine the robotizable processes taking into account six main criteria:
RPA is too often seen as a remedy for processes not running efficiently, but this will not prevent your process from bleeding.Stéphanie Struelens, Business Manager Financial Institutions
From experience, TriFinance built a set of RPA best practices. ‘This is probably the most relevant information you can get before, during and even after a robot implementation,’ Stéphanie Struelens says.
Best practices before starting with RPA:
All too often, an RPA project is only viewed from a cost perspective, saving FTEs and diminishing work pressure. An Expert Session participant from the insurance sector was fully engaged in automating financial reporting in Asia. Saving FTEs is not always a very effective argument in that region: Asian organizations often want to employ as many people as possible because wage cost is lower than in Europe, making cost-cutting less relevant as an argument. Another participant from a multinational industrial company added that taking away 80 percent of non-value adding work by automating the repetitive work helped to keep people on board, e.g. in their Vietnam subsidiary. People stay longer in the company because their jobs have become more interesting. ‘Instead of workers fearing that robotization might lead to redundancy, they should be made aware that it can uplift the quality of their jobs’
Cultural adaptation is key for your RPA project: invest in change management initiatives to create awareness among your usersStéphanie Struelens, Business Manager Financial Institutions