10 Best Practices to Improve Your Process Automation Program

Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland's picture

Robotic process automation (RPA) is undoubtedly a topic of high interest to most organizations. Its potential, combined with the growing accessibility and maturity of RPA technologies, is positioning RPA as a key tool in the organizational toolbox. Furthermore, process automation is at the heart of most organizations’ digital transformation—to achieve improved efficiency and reduce costs. But beyond these more tangible drivers lurks another motivating factor: the hype around process automation. Organizations are afraid that if they do not start using automation technology now, they will fall behind. Which has led to misinformation and unrealistsic expectations of what RPA can and can’t do.

So, though RPA looks like a technological “silver bullet,” effective implementation remains a challenge. Organizations struggle with questions around core concepts such as:

  • What is the right governance structure for our process automation work?
  • What criteria should we use to select what should be automated?
  • What capabilities and skillsets do we need?
  • How can we track and measure the effectiveness of our automation efforts?

We recently finished a research project that examines the drivers behind automation efforts and provides answers to these questions.  

So, what did we find?

Glad you asked. We uncovered 10 best practices that organizations need to consider when setting up or expanding their automation programs:

  1. Integrate process automation into your improvement team’s toolkit.
  2. Clearly establish roles and responsibilities between IT, process management, and the business from the outset.
  3. Partner with HR to create a proactive plan for displaced employees or to reallocate full-time employee (FTE) hours.
  4. Use a senior-level steering committee to ensure equitable and strategic use of RPA.
  5. Employ internal resources like risk management or legal early on to mitigate potential risks.
  6. Apply a mix of process, technical feasibility, and value selection criteria to identify the best-fit processes for automation.
  7. Leverage process discovery and optimization to reduce rework on bots.
  8. Make the business responsible for ongoing management of bots once they are in production.
  9. Use training, success stories, and communications to demystify RPA and reduce organizational resistance.
  10. Do not rely solely on volume measures to track your program’s success.

Though the best practices look like a laundry list of does and don’ts for your automation efforts, they provide guidance around 5 key components for any business initiative:

  1. Strategy—understand its role in the organization’s efforts and outline the expected value.
  2. People—who is accountable for the work and do we have the right resources.
  3. Process—how can we ensure the right projects are done and executed consistently across the organization.
  4. Change—how to address fear and ensure adoption.
  5. Measures—how do we know we are achieving our goals.

Check out our recent report, Make Success Automatic: Best Practices in Robotic Process Automation, as well as additional resources in our research collection for more information on the topic and best practices.

For more process and performance management research and insights, follow me on twitter at @hlykehogland or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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