How to Successfully Get Started with Intelligent Process Automation

Intelligent Automation (IA) benefits have been proven in both small and large organizations. A recent study by Deloitte states that 78% of global organizations are already taking advantage of these benefits.  So how can your organization successfully get started with IA and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and join its competitors in harnessing the power of automation?

At a high level, the traditional steps required to deploy Intelligent Automation successfully are as follows:

  1. Research Automation software vendors
  2. Evaluate Automation software and select a vendor
  3. Purchase the IA / RPA software and necessary server hardware
  4. Hire/train your Automation development team on the new software
  5. Identify potential high-value processes for a Proof of Concept (PoC) Automation deployment
  6. Execute a successful PoC pilot project
  7. Develop an Enterprise Automation Strategy
  8. Utilizing your automation strategy, continue to expand your Automation deployments

LakeTurn Automation employs a rapid Automation-as-a-Service (AaaS) delivery model that completely removes the cost and complexity barriers associated with the first four steps outlined above.  Since our organization has already handled steps 1-4 for you, let’s jump to step 5 and right into the actual deployment process and the rapid ROI that AaaS provides.

Identify a Target Process for your Pilot Project

While an organization might be tempted to dive into its most complex and time-consuming process as the first Intelligent Automation project, best practice is to start with a small Proof of Concept (PoC) pilot as the first automation initiative.  Starting with a smaller pilot project helps ensure long-term Automation success as it provides a low-risk learning experience for all involved.  Stakeholders obtain knowledge on how IA and RPA work and visibility to the benefits that can be achieved at scale. Employees gain positive firsthand experience with bots and how the technology can empower them to improve their jobs.

When evaluating and selecting a target process for your pilot automation project, it is best to look for non-mission-critical business processes that generally meet the following criteria:

  • Primarily rules-based
  • Manual and repetitive
  • Utilize structured data
  • Input data is digital (not paper-based)
  • High-volume and high-frequency
  • Mature and stable (does not change and is not error-prone)
  • Measurable effects (positive or negative effects of automation easy to measure)

Our Process Assessment Scorecard provides additional guidance on scoring the attributes above and rating your internal processes against these critical PoC attributes.

Execute a Successful PoC Pilot Project

Once you have determined the optimum process to automate for your PoC pilot project, you are ready to partner with our team to design, build and deploy your new automated workflow.   Our structured value chain automation process consists of the following phases:

  1. Discover & Optimize > research, select, and optimize the process targeted for automation
  2. Analyze & Design > design, documentation, and sign-off of the new bot-enabled automated workflow
  3. Build & Test > build and test the automation workflow
  4. Deploy & Govern > training, change management, go-live, ROI tracking, and ongoing governance

For a standard-scope PoC pilot project, we typically complete the Design to Deploy (Go-Live) phases in 30 days or less. This swift deployment cycle allows rapid access to all of the benefits of the new automation and an expedited return on your investment.   After go-live, our team continues to support the automation and address any modifications required (ex., a new data field needs to be retrieved from a website), ensuring the long-term viability of the new workflow.

After a successful PoC pilot project, the organization will understand the benefits of automation and embrace the ongoing expansion utilization of Intelligent Automation in a broader range of use cases.

Develop an Enterprise Automation Strategy

Before expanding Intelligent Automation implementations, an organization must first develop the proper foundation to support a culture of automation.  Many organizations fail to take this step, severely limiting their long-term automation success. Like a business Strategic Plan, a proper Automation Strategy maps out your automation vision, goals, opportunities, and risks for the next 1-3 years.

In addition to developing your strategy, setting up a governing body to manage the ongoing governance of your automation projects is critical.  Successful organizations utilize an Automation Center of Excellence (CoE) to guide the execution of the Automation Strategy and provide organizational change management support as manual processes transition to software robots.  As part of the Govern phase above, we partner with our clients in developing the necessary strategy, change management, and governance SOPs required for continued success.

Leverage your Strategy and CoE to Expand your Automation Projects

Select your next automation project to execute by leveraging your momentum from the PoC pilot project, your Automation Strategy, and guidance from your Center of Excellence. You can utilize a target process that was identified during your initial PoC Pilot research or partner with our firm to conduct a departmental or organizational Discovery Audit to help identify prime process targets for automation.   As you expand your Intelligent Automation footprint, be sure to include the necessary ROI tracking of each automation.  This information is critical for your CoE team as they monitor your automation strategy’s ongoing success against your Automation Strategy goals.

Begin your Automation Journey the Correct Way

While Forrester reports that 86% of organizations using RPA are experiencing increased efficiency from Automation, an E&Y study estimated that 30 to 50 percent of initial Automation implementations result in failure.  To help ensure your organization is included in the Forrester statistic (and not the E&Y metric), be sure to follow Automation best practices as you deploy automation in your company:

  • Know your Processes > choose your automation targets wisely
  • Start Small > begin with a PoC pilot project
  • Set Clear Vision and Goals > develop an Automation Strategy
  • Form the Proper Foundation for Future Automation Growth > create an Automation CoE

Intelligent Automation, when appropriately deployed, provides significant benefits.  Automation success is undoubtedly attainable if you follow implementation best practices and build the proper foundation for automation to thrive in your organization.

So how will you begin to reap the competitive benefits of Intelligent Automation in your organization?

As Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”