Robotic process automation (RPA) sits among the group of emerging technologies with great potential, including AI, IoT, and augmented reality. While these technologies have an almost sci-fi feel and make for jaw-dropping demos, at their core they are designed with one thing in mind — to help businesses succeed.
While the robotic part may sound ominous, robotic process automation software can transform how your business operates. Bots perform rote manual tasks at a higher speed and accuracy than human workers can. These bots operate through user interfaces, so they can connect to IT systems and applications without APIs, automating a variety of legacy processes.
Scale for success
While businesses that have deployed RPA bots have seen success, they aren’t always maximizing their investment. Forrester Research found that 51% of companies with RPA implementations have deployed 10 or fewer bots. That percentage drops down to just 21% of companies with 11-49 bots, and 8% with 100-199 bots. While committing to the investment in RPA technology is a solid first step, many RPA deployments have failed to scale.
So how can businesses maximize their RPA investment? By treating it as one of several automation options. Organizations that succeed with automation take an end-to-end approach and identify the right type of automation to apply at each step.
Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Craig Le Clair and Nintex Chief Evangelist Ryan Duguid broke down all things RPA in their recent webinar: The Real Truth About RPA (and its role in the Process Automation landscape).
Let’s take a closer look at steps to take to achieve success in automation.
Combining Robotic Process Automation with Business Process Management
RPA bots mimic human keystrokes, but they cannot make decisions. As Le Clair explained, BPM platforms structure the ways in which RPA bots can function, creating tangible use cases where RPA can makes the biggest impact. These are among the most common:
RPA bots take work from a BPM queue
The most straightforward method sees RPA bots pull work from the traditional back-office workflows in the same way a human would.
BPM routes around failed bot to human queue
It will take time, along with trial and error, to fully streamline RPA bots within a business’s existing IT systems. BPM orchestration can route failed bot processes to a human queue, where a worker can determine what went wrong and complete the work.
RPA serves as middleware to core systems and web sites
Unlike BPM, RPA doesn’t require any data integration to other IT systems. RPA gathers data from core systems and websites without integration and can connect with systems that don’t have APIs.
Understanding the real-world implementation of robotic process automation software is the first step to making it work for your business. The next step is translating that understanding into a defined RPA initiative.
3 steps to RPA success
1. Start simple
When you’re eager to start automating, it can be tempting to change processes immediately and on a large scale. But the trick is to start simple. Find quick and easy wins: Fix processes that are obviously broken and solve meaningful problems. This shows people how automation can have a tangible impact on their day-to-day responsibilities and gets them excited about what can be accomplished next.
2. Be agile
It’s important to remember two things about process: It’s always changing, and it’s never perfect. Striving for the perfect process will usually mean you don’t get anything done. Focus on getting started, getting feedback, making changes and adapting. This allows you to continue updating processes to match the evolution of your business.
3. Start the change movement
As process automation grows within your organization, people should feel empowered to take charge of improving their own workflows. This often starts at the departmental level, and then naturally rolls out to assisting colleagues and other departments. Form a structure around this and you begin to create a culture of change.
3 steps to process excellence
RPA — despite its impact, potential, and popularity — is only one part of the full automation tool kit. Process excellence requires a comprehensive approach to improving how work is conducted, from start to finish. We break this down into three steps:
Discover, map, and document your existing business processes. Share that information across the organization so every individual understands how work gets done.
Once processes are mapped, you can make informed and intelligent decisions about how those processes can be automated. Find the perfect match — from RPA to Forms, Document Generation, eSignature, mobile.
Newly automated processes are rarely perfect. You’ll find bottlenecks, breakdowns, and opportunities for improvement will appear over time. Process analytics will help you monitor, measure, and improve processes to steady improve them.
The integration of RPA with the Nintex Platform makes the deployment of bots faster and easier. Employees can train bots without code, empowering them to solve their own problems. This builds the necessary foundation upon which your new RPA initiative can scale and succeed.
To find out more about implementing RPA through the Nintex Platform, sign up for a Nintex RPA demo today.