It’s such a buzz that we have people come up to us at tradeshows saying that “they need RPA” or that “their boss says that they need RPA,” but when asked what task they’d like to automate we often get blank stares. Sometimes they’ll explain that they need help mining and discovering processes. Or that they need to automate end-to-end business processes. Or, most humorously, that they “really don’t need RPA, but they’re certain to get budget approved if they call it an RPA project!” Seriously, this happens all the time.
So, here’s the deal. RPA (Robotic Process Automation) can be an amazing tool in your business transformation tool kit, but like the proverbial hammer, it needs to be used properly and for the right job. With this mantra always in the back of my mind, I tend to notice great articles that frame up the who/what/when/where/why of RPA, and yesterday I found a particularly excellent one by author, George V. Hulme. It’s titled: “5 Practices that Will Help Drive Successful Robotic Process Automation Deployments,” and it appeared yesterday in DevOps.com. For the record, I don’t know George personally, but I was so impressed with his 5 best practices (even though I count 6), that I tweeted about it and now we’re pals on Twitter.
In his article, George offers the following suggestions and delivers compelling reasons why.
Understand the process being automated and how RPA impacts other operations
My paraphrase = define, capture, mine, discover processes first! Process is the center of “Robotic PROCESS Automation.” Then GOVERN the bots in perpetuity. Otherwise you run the risk of digital gremlins running amok; worst case, knocking you out of compliance with ISO, HIPAA, PCI, SOC2, SOX, etc.
Consider refining the process before automating it
My paraphrase = a bad process automated, just fails faster
Document, test and catalog your RPAs
My paraphrase = enterprises need a shared tool and repository to capture this crucial information
As the bot owner, know you’re responsible for your bot
My paraphrase = take this seriously, because a “quick & inexpensive” experiment with RPA can have broader implications
Remember your bot may live beyond your tenure
My paraphrase = again, store pertinent info in a shared, compliant place so that proper maintenance, support, evolution and governance is ensured
Consider centralizing the RPA deployment process
My paraphrase = every enterprise should have a CoE (center of excellence) that oversees all automation and transformation initiatives. Unlike Mr. Hulme, I don’t think that there should be a stand-alone RPA CoE, but instead a single CoE that oversees RPA as one more tool to achieve transformation and innovation. But we’re really close on this one.