You may already be aware that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is used to streamline back-office operations, increase efficiency and even combat inflation. But, are you aware of how to effectively build and scale an RPA practice? I interviewed two RPA experts that worked within highly scaled Centers of Excellence (CoE’s) at Fortune 100 companies to provide clarity and proactive advice on scaling intelligent automation in today’s ever-changing market landscape. I asked key questions so you can gain insight into how to go from where you are, to where you want to be, all by investing in RPA and exploring if a Center of Excellence (CoE) is a good fit.
Our expert Interviewees for this blog and panelists of our upcoming virtual event:
Jeff Berkowitz – Former program manager of KPMG’s 200+ automation deployment. As a CoE program leader, Jeff’s experience is more strategic and in-line to the company’s goals. Jeff is a CoE Leader at Konica Minolta.
Jim Weldon – Worked in Verizon’s 900+ automation CoE and has consulted on hundreds of use-cases across industries. As a Senior RPA developer and engineer, Jim’s experience is more technical, and hands-on. Jim is currently the thought leader behind Konica Minolta’s technical RPA standards.
Both Jeff and Jim have worked in organizations with 135,000+ staff, and deployed as many 300+ automations. With over 200 bot runners in production they were able to equate between 269 and 500+ full time equivalent work conducted by bots, respectively.
Heather Maitre – Former CIO, digital transformation thought leader who has consulted with a myriad of organizations on how to transform, with automation as a key strategy. Heather is the Vice President of Konica Minolta’s RPA Business Practice, and also leads its internal Intelligent Automation Center of Excellence.
Let’s dive right into the Q&A
What are the top 3 things organizations do correctly when scaling RPA?
Jeff (CoE leader):
A correctly scaled RPA practice is great for a business! Most commonly when I’ve seen an organization get it just right, they’ve built an excellent cadence of stakeholder communication, constantly employ best practices, and re-use existing processes and components where possible to accelerate delivery.
For me, it’s about close alignment with business units, having a clearly defined charter from senior management, and sufficiently preparing for future growth.
What are the top 3 mistakes organizations make when scaling RPA?
I’ve seen an array of mistakes made and lessons learned when scaling an RPA practice. Not addressing staff’s fear of automation taking their jobs is definitely the most common. The next two are not enabling proper bot access soon enough, and not allowing enough time to purchase and configure new hardware and software from a vendor.
Hiring the ‘wrong’ people tops the list of mistakes I’ve seen, and then failing to align closely with the business case owners and users is a close second. I would say the other challenge I see a lot is changing direction/priorities mid-way through execution which then interrupts a smooth delivery.
What should you do in the first 3 months after RPA licenses are purchased, to be able to scale as quickly as possible?
There’s a few things I always recommend. Most importantly, employing a process that encourages speed and efficiency can help your organization scale as quickly as possible. Managing the process with stage gates is a great tool to mitigate errors and lost time on future rework. Another must-have is to establish ROI metrics to show the worthwhile contributions of RPA, and encourage supporters of the RPA practice, and CoE staff.
I agree. Prioritizing the automations based on complexity, ROI, and amount of support, will best equip you to scale quickly. You will also need a strong pipeline to develop the practice, so you should build in consistently reiterating the goal of the project, and how it will positively affect the staff and department, to key stakeholders. The cumulative effects of RPA move the needle much more than a single automation so it’s best to have positive interactions and clear expectations to keep the pipeline full!
Let’s say you’re an organization with 4 developers and 2 Business Analysts, how many automations can you reasonably deploy in a year?
Approximately 24. It’s best to work to an average of 6 automations per year, for each developer. However, this quantity comes with a few assumptions – that your developers are experienced, two of the six automations are of low complexity, and the development is concurrent with the other four automations.
Yes, in this example, approximately 24-28 is a feasible target. From a technical perspective, it’s realistic to add two weeks for adjusting after deployment. Organizations should ensure they handle one bot every two months smoothly before going any faster.
Getting to scale may look different for you than these examples. Here are a few key highlights for you to keep in mind as you look to build and scale your RPA practice:
Would you like to learn more about maximizing the ROI of your RPA automations, and gain even greater efficiency? Join us on Wednesday, April 26, at 1 pm ET for an educational panel discussion that will dive deeper into the topics of this blog. Register Today!