Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is improving workflows and helping businesses grow in nearly every industry. To successfully implement RPA, however, a company needs to establish a center of excellence (CoE) dedicated to improving existing RPA processes and anticipating areas for re-invention.
A virtual think tank conducted by Frost & Sullivan, a leader in helping investors and corporate leaders navigate economic change, convened in April 2019 to discuss the importance of establishing a dedicated CoE for RPA.
RPA improves compliance, decreases costs, increases service levels and revenue, and reduces errors. The technology is expected to surge across the globe over the next two years, according to Dimension Data’s 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report.
All business processes need focus and alignment in order to be implemented successfully. By assembling a centralized group that assigns talent to business units or functions where AI is expected to be the center of things, a CoE can focus on AI-driven RPA, basing decisions on market growth.
People usually start using a CoE at the four- to six-month mark, noted Vineet Sharma, associate marketing director for AB-InBev. Every company times things differently, but “as soon as you’ve gone through the first cycle of deploying the bots, that’s when the CoEs come into existence for many of our customers.”
For a business to fully realize RPA’s compounding benefits, a CoE needs appropriate tools for managing and measuring operations. According to Aaron Hubbart, senior project manager of process automation at Navistar, the key metrics used to measure RPA revolve around the number of hours an employee can be redeployed as a result of using bots. At Navistar, they now view RPA as a way to free resources to focus on value-added activities.
“We identified 12 processes that we would like to automate using RPA that we feel have a very significant impact to the business to the tune of about 40,000 hours freed,” Hubbart explained.
The advances in RPA and AI can quickly increase returns on investment (ROIs). Adding a CoE to your organization can help you closely manage and measure operations to glean more insights into the results.
Automation Anywhere has made it easy for any business to create and manage its own CoE. “We’ve embedded the CoE dashboard so an administrator can simply … specify some key metrics, such as how much time the work would take without the bots,” said Manish Rai, vice president of product marketing at Automation Anywhere.
“So you can calculate the savings and then the hourly cost associated by a worker and some basic metrics, and then it creates key data like ROI, cost savings, and man-hour savings automatically. And we recently added a mobile app, so all that data is available on the go to all the RPA users.”
It’s easy enough to get interest in RPA projects once your company learns about the results of one or more pilot programs, but establishing a CoE requires a different level of attention.
“A lot of people see the potential benefit,” Hubbart noted. “It’s really developing that ROI that helps … and it’s not the traditional ROI because there are a lot the benefits that come from RPA that aren’t easy to quantify or aren’t easy to track.”
The best way to succeed with RPA is to demonstrate quick wins and keep it simple in the beginning. As your company builds a framework for intelligent automation, having a dedicated CoE can help pave the way for greater alignment and success, expanding your scope and resources and delivering automation to all areas of the business.
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Brian Strachman is head of product marketing for mobile and analytics products. He has more than 15 years of experience in technology marketing, product marketing, solutions marketing, strategy, go-to-market planning, sales enablement, and market research.