Robotic Process Automation (RPA), one of the most talked about disruptive technologies today, involves the use of software ‘bots’ that are easy to configure, require minimal to no code and can be quickly ‘trained’ and deployed, scaled to automate manual tasks. Their adoption is on a rise across all business functions providing them access to relevant processes and sensitive information.
More than 20% of the firms adopt RPA to enhance productivity while other 20% adopt the technology for increased efficiency. While RPA can transform the economics and service level of current manual operations, it is observed that many organizations struggle with initial RPA projects. This isn’t a reflection of the technology; but there are some common mistakes which could potentially prevent an organization from delivering on the promise of RPA, if not done right. Business disruption and inefficiencies are highly probable if RPA is not executed correctly. To reap full benefits of RPA it is important to have proper alignment to enterprise’s existing architecture, relevant training programs and adequate robotics security measure. Thus it is essential to have robust governance strategy in place.
Getting ready for successful adoption of RPA
Center of Excellence – Avoiding RPA silos
As the use of robotics scales from a pilot to a standard solution for the firm, it should be embedded in the organization rather than siloed. Enterprises should aim to establish Center of Excellence (CoE) in RPA space. A CoE enables employees at varied levels to be self-sufficient to control, manage and scale RPA efforts. Therefore, it should focus on six major aspects:
Lifecycle process – An aid in identifying right processes to prioritize and deploy RPA can lead to smooth adoption of the technology. A referral for on-going operations can further enhance overall lifecycle of bot adoption.
Alignment and change – Best practice to communicate organizational changes related to RPA adoption along with relevant skill development procedure can ensure readiness of enterprise to embrace the RPA adoption.
Technology – It is important not to assume that a single RPA tool will be suitable for all enterprise needs. While adopting RPA technology, it is imperative to have correct infrastructure in place. A robust vendor management program and expert network can further guarantee increased technological know-how.
Enterprise integration – To ensure RPA is well integrated in the enterprise architecture, it is vital to establish pertinent IT processes and security measures.
Value measurement – Once RPA is adopted in an enterprise, it is imperative to continuously review its performance and relevance for the enterprise. Operational and Performance Metrics along with Benefit Measurement and Reporting assist in timely value measurement.
Strategy and Governance – Robotic adoption call for transparent and accurate decision making process as it involves enterprise-wide deployment. The CoE is vulnerable to encountering obstacles associated with cross-departmental interaction and collaboration. This calls for an effective governance process that the CoE will follow to facilitate collaboration and communications.
Robust governance policies underpin a successful robotics implementation. Adequate controls must be present to ensure regulatory compliance, user access management and authorization and protection from cyber threats.
Governance framework – Backbone of RPA adoption
Once a suitable process is identified for RPA pilot and awareness is spread through robust communication and training mechanism, the enterprise is almost ready for RPA adoption. However to make the adoption effective, it is important to establish a strong central governance process to ensure standardization and prioritization of right opportunities.
Regulatory governance – Bots are essentially new systems and should adhere to regulatory environment of the enterprise. Compliance requirement around data privacy and security, Risk & Control Matrices (RACM) and IT general controls (ITGC) should be diligently followed.
Cyber governance – Robust governance is required around cyber security as bots are exposed to cyber threats. An unauthorized access to bots can have serious implications on security of critical data. Bot identity, access and authorization management along with threat modeling and vulnerability management for important part of cyber governance.
Tech governance – Integration of bots in enterprise architecture, user access management and access authorization are imperative for secure adoption of RPA. Under this governance, logical access policy for RPA should be developed; process to perform periodic access review in RPA and target application should be determined; and secure configuration policies should be put in place.
Further, regular governance related to sizing of hardware for RPA and virtual servers, sizing the bandwidth of network for RPA, backup and recovery options for RPA are essential. Developing release management process for RPA, defining roles and responsibilities and overall workforce management is crucial for RPA program.
Operative governance – Should any internal or external aspect of a business process change, the bots require real-time updates. Business continuity can take a serious hit in case the bots are not updated. Appropriate policies related to day-to-day operations help in removing ambiguity and result in lower failure rates. In order to avoid automation failures, changes should be planned, communicated, tested with RPA system and made within a strong governance framework.
Program management – While adopting RPA, it is essential to ensure business alignment and have resilient organization change management in place. Value measurement, return on investment reporting and risk management in a continuous manner increases reliability of RPA program.
Getting RPA right!
To avoid unwanted obstacles and time consumption and ensure efficient process execution, it is important to have streamlined RPA adoption. To fully unleash the power of RPA technology, enterprises should spend effort in making the conducive environment, with robust governance program, and establishing best practices with CoE in place.
The article was first published in businessworld.in here.