CTO: How to begin an RPA journey

November 8, 2022 | 5 Mins David Daly

Robotic process automation is really starting to enter the mainstream and the chief technology officer at a lot of global organizations today is starting to look at areas across the business where robotic process automation can be deployed to good effect.

While it can be deployed relatively quickly and produce fast results, it should not be considered a quick fix project, instead it is more of a culture change and a continuous process of improvement, especially when RPA can be applied to business units that have traditionally relied heavily on manual work for repeated or recurring tasks.

In this article, we are going to outline a few steps that a CTO can take when beginning a journey towards replacing legacy technology or no longer fit for purpose processes with RPA technology.

Prove value and tell the story

The chief technology officer is a decision maker, but they will also need support and buy in from key stakeholders across the business. Some of these stakeholders may simply be unaware of the value of RPA implementation while a few others may be a little skeptical and not quite buying into the hype. This is understandable, there is a lot of sales and marketing talk around RPA. But one of the key benefits of RPA is that the value can be proved relatively quickly once deployment has taken place. So, one approach for a CTO might be to begin the process of telling the story around why RPA is needed and how it will benefit the business as a whole and quickly follow this with some quick win deployments of RPA which support the story with concrete results.

This is about looking to capture initial opportunities, assessing exactly where in the business a quick win could happen. The CTO might look at manual processes in departments such as human resources and global payroll and consider these ripe for automation technology. If this technology was deployed quickly, then the CTO would find themselves in possession of some compelling statistics, with a before and after picture of how automated processes have saved time and cost by replacing manual recurring tasks with powerful robotic process automation technology.

This should help make a compelling and convincing case to stakeholders as to why intelligent automation technology is so valuable. Its ability to replace manual tasks can create a much higher level of efficiency within the department that it has been implemented in. It also reduces the risk of any data entry errors being made, as it takes away the need for human involvement. Not only is this beneficial for the department, but it is also good for the employee and could enhance the employee experience. Employees would no longer have to work on time-consuming manual data entry tasks and have more time now to focus on other priorities.

Create teams and frameworks

Once some early success has been secured with helpful proof of concept statistics showing the success of RPA in a specific business unit or business process, a CTO can then move their automation journey on to creating teams to deploy the technology on a larger scale, for example an entire department. The CTO will need to work on a framework document that captures the reasons why RPA is being introduced across the business, what it will replace, how it will help and what the expected results could look like.

Next steps then would be to build out a core team of highly skilled and qualified professionals, ideally people with strong backgrounds in deploying RPA quickly into business units that previously had relied on manual processes or legacy technology from a different era. RPA has entered the mainstream so there are specialist consultants and IT professionals who specialize in this kind of work, they offer their services to businesses who are undergoing a digital transformation and focus their efforts in applying automation to relevant business processes.

This team could be made up of digital transformation officers, developers, technology experts and specialized implementation managers. This is about getting the core skill sets and experienced people working towards a defined governance framework and clear deadlines. With the right people in place, working towards an agreed framework, with proper buy-in from company stakeholders, things can happen quickly, and the results can be very impressive. If a CTO and their organization is making the decision to implement RPA technology, then making sure to develop a sufficient implementation team is a key step to ensure success.

Capture the easier implementations

Once the framework and the team with the right skill sets are in place, one approach a CTO could take is to look at some of the easier implementations. This may be about creating digital transformation momentum and securing a series of successful outcomes early in the process.

It may be about looking at departments that have complementary technology in place that could enable a swift integration with RPA technology to get things up and running relatively quickly. It is inevitable that there will be a range of business-critical departments that are still relying on manual processes and legacy technology. RPA can help you introduce huge benefits here, but it is also a somewhat more complex process and implementation.

If other business units currently deploy technology that is compatible with the swift introduction of RPA tech, then these could be really useful test pilot programs for introducing RPA across the business at a later date. There are a lot of opportunities here for both the CTO and their team of skilled experts to test and learn during the pilot stage. These learnings can be documented and carried forward to the more challenging departments which also require RPA. It is always a good idea to test and develop RPA technology before moving on to the bigger and more complex automation projects in the business. The testing and learning here will also fall into the scope of the continuous process improvement, the team will have a greater understanding about the IT infrastructure within the business and will be able to come to some clear conclusions about the best ways to scale up activity across the business with RPA.

 

The few steps that have been discussed in this article could prove to be useful for CTOs when beginning their RPA journey. Proving the value and telling the story as to why RPA is beneficial for the company could be the first step in getting the organization and stakeholders onboard. Then devising a framework document that demonstrates the reasons why RPA is being introduced and how it will be used, as well as developing a core team of professionals to manage this technology could help with a successful implementation. Furthermore, easier initial implementations can result in a series of quick wins and help with the preparation for moving onto bigger automation projects.

 

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