The secrets of ROI in RPA

Part II - Secrets of Greater ROI in Robotic Process Automation

In the second part of a three part series on RPA in the business, Talmix talks about how to find the right candidate processes so that ROI is achieved across the business. He cautions against an enterprise-wide, revolutionary roll-out – even if this is the recommendation of the technology leadership.

The desires for automation start in the IT team

The desire for broader enterprise-wide process automation often comes from the IT organization; in fact, they drive this ahead of the wishes of the overall business. The business case in favor of enterprise-wide strategic purchase is driven by the IT executive’s desire to shorten delivery at a lower cost. Pooling of business requirements with a common theme, volume license, support contract and one-time implementation cost contribute towards this: IT look good. That’s where it stops.

Does it work at scale?

Operationally, ROI on enterprise-wide efforts is much harder to demonstrate.  CFOs, industry experts and even ERP vendors have raised doubts on large scale technology implementation for this reason. Cost overruns are quite common in such projects.

Specific to RPA projects, since some of the processes provide far less cost savings, broad process improvement efforts seldom deliver great financial value. Focusing on smaller projects where there is greatest reduction in complexities, time savings and more automation gives the best value for the business.

Side note: Many of the author’s peers in the consulting world prefer longer-term, enterprise-wide process improvement efforts due to their predisposed thinking. Readers must not get influenced by the biased views. Insist on short-term results and progress towards longer-term value in RPA projects.

Choosing the first process to automate

Where does one start to find the best RPA candidate? In practice, where there is a congregation of people (virtual, remote or in open floor) or hub-and-spoke business activities make good candidates for Robot Process Automation. To substantiate the selected process as a great candidate, process users (typically someone outside of the decision-making) must be given full opportunity to bring out the practical challenges faced due to process complexities.

It is quite easy to get internal customers passionate, but it takes experience to translate these frustrations to success qualifiers.  It starts with asking the right question. For instance, “What does it mean if you were to finish your posting all the entries before 3pm instead of waiting till 6 pm and 7 pm for entries to come?” It is of great value to the process participants if they can finish work at a reasonable time and go home early to spend time with their family. The intangible benefits are important. Selling future state with personal benefits has a far greater chance of long-term success in delivering RPA results.

It is this combined value of tangible process centric improvements, intangible employee benefits and phased IT implementation that makes a good recipe for ROI success.

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