Starting Your RPA Center of Excellence

Establishing an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) helps embed automation effectively into an organization and redistributes accumulated knowledge and resources across various business units for future deployments. While starting your RPA CoE models, here is the information your team needs to know.

The Right RPA CoE Model for Successful Governance

Regardless of its task, a robot’s essential job is to make the company vision come true. To realize this vision, businesses should establish an internal, self-sustaining and scalable RPA CoE to run and maintain their digital workforce.

Developing an RPA Center of Excellence is an important step in establishing a foundation for automation in your business. Organizations must treat RPA as an enterprise capability/entity and resist the temptation to make quick wins by implementing automation silos that only bring short-term benefits. To do this correctly, there are five core focuses in the process that must be assessed and established while making this development.

Opportunity Assessment

Off the bat, an organization needs to assess the opportunities of automation within their business processes. Through intelligent and data-driven automation capabilities, assisted RPA bots have the capability to assist with this milestone if the opportunity is a viable option. However, as previously stated in our article regarding RPA and Business Process Analysis, not every process in the business is right for RPA. To ensure your team isn’t “spinning their wheels” in this area, here are some practical guidelines to abide by when building your RPA CoE model:

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  • Build an opportunity assessment framework

    Build a framework of your business processes, and note those you wish to automate. Examine different use cases where RPA is currently making a sizable impact and gauge your automation goals accordingly. Learn more about RPA use cases HERE.

  • Engage your business partners

    An important step in establishing your CoE is understanding you cannot do this alone. Automation requires a team effort, frequent communication, and a desire to learn from mistakes. Engage your partners on a frequent basis during the development process, and ensure every member understands their role and the designated RPA “champions.”

  • Measure the ROI

    What is the return of an RPA implementation, and is the process worth it? When forming your RPA CoE, this step is especially crucial when evaluating what processes need to be automated, and which ones may just need a modernized system implementation. Additionally, evaluating the true ROI of an RPA implementation can be a cornerstone when “pitching the investment case” to leadership.

  • Understand that mistakes WILL occur

    No automation process starts off turning on all cylinders. The ability to “fail fast”, as we say needs to be the mindset of your RPA team in order to learn from shortcomings. This is also where post maintenance responsibilities need to be addressed among your team members.

Robotic Readiness

Ample time needs to be spent preparing your organization for the incoming bots. Developing an understanding that these digital helpers are not here to take their jobs will further establish a mindset of innovation. At the same time, the bots themselves need to be adequately trained. So how do you on-board the virtual workforce?

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  • Drop the short term mentality

    There is certainly no “quick start-up” method for onboarding RPA. Communication internally and externally needs to serve as the base for your implementation. Understand that this is a long-term project with a long-term rate of return.

  • Develop through agile methodology 

    When it comes to development, deployment, and support, the agile methodology is crucial. Flexibility and learning on your feet will need to be the mindset of your team and partners.

  • Adapt practical RPA training methods

    Properly training your workforce is a pivotal milestone in the RPA journey. Once you identify the roles present in your RPA CoE, ensure these members receive practical, hands-on training so your implementation can be internally governed efficiently. Some of these roles include business analysts, developers, and infrastructure engineers. Learn different ways to train your workforce on RPA HERE >

  • Set tangible goals and stick to them

    Setting goals is important when getting your organization ready for RPA. Set a timeline, be agile through the process, and negotiate plenty of time for error and maintenance.

Delivery and Support

Your agile team needs to anticipate unexpected occurrences during the development and implementation process. Developers who are proficient in lateral thinking play key roles in the process. While a tech background is important, experience in the process/application being automated is also important. So how should your team manage changes, and who should be in charge of managing them?

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  • Implement an impact assessment

    Through communication with your implementation team, see how changes will impact your RPA system ahead of time. Form a small group within your RPA team to oversee impacts the new integration is making and assess them as they go. Again, agility is key here.

  • 24-7 monitoring

    If it can be implemented, and your team has the bandwidth to oversee your process during 24-hour intervals, around the clock monitoring is ideal. This is especially true during the start up phase.

  • Anticipate the downstream impact

    Bear in mind the downstream impact when implementing RPA. When choosing the process to implement, keep in mind mature processes are more stable. They will not change as much or have unexpected surprises. Changes usually are not significant if the entire process isn’t changed, so having a team of trained users is useful.

Demand Management

Among what we have identified as 8 components to a successful CoE, the 2 components that have tripped up stakeholders of all shapes and sizes are Demand Management and Governance.

Why Demand Management and not just Process Discovery?

When looking for high-value automation opportunities, people will usually begin with process discovery. The two leading vendors of RPA products, UiPath and Microsoft Power Automate, both agree that process discovery (or process mining) is a critical enabling technology for digital transformation. In fact, they both have developed intelligent tools to use AI and machine learning to analyze and consolidate workflow recordings and quantify their value and potential for automation. The challenge comes when you have identified a list of automation candidates. What discovery fails to take into consideration is the roles, responsibilities, ROI analysis, prioritizing, sequencing, approvals, and backlog reviews. Process discovery is just the beginning.

We wrote the playbook on Demand Management

In our years working in RPA, we have developed a deeper understanding of the process discovery in our approach to demand management.

We’re happy to preview a slice of our playbook with you here, or review the entirety of the RPA CoE Demand Management playbook in a one-on-one discussion.

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Governance ties in with support and is the encompassing lifeline of your RPA CoE. Governance in practice stays within an organization and consists of champions that oversee the entire process. These team members do not have to be IT specialists, but they must stay informed of all RPA implementations in the business and have a thorough knowledge of the processes being automated.

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  • Keep the core team engaged

    Keep the core team engaged with changes that may occur down the line. As more automation emerges in the workplace and more people in the organization obtain responsibility, keep your team of “champions” at the front end.

  • Frequently engage the IT and Business Teams

    Keep application specific expertise involved in the IT developments of your RPA integration. At the same time, ensure your non-technical business users are informed of all changes and developments, especially regarding scaled updates/integrations.

RPA Enablement

Most successful RPA implementations establish teams consisting of strong leads. These may include business analysts who can map and analyze processes to identify automation opportunities, and developers who are proficient in RPA integrations. The big question at the end of the day is: “How can RPA be enabled in a business process?” Meaning, when your team is moving into the implementation phase, what is the best way to begin?

  • Start small in the beginning

    Start small when undergoing your first implementation. Understand that while aspirations may be high, not all of the business needs to be automated at once.

  • Implement holistically 

    Take the holistic approach when implementing RPA into a business process. Don’t just automate one part of the process if you are bringing automation to the entire process itself. As previously stated, place a focus on implementing mature processes as well.

  • Brace your team members

    Individuals in the business may feel threatened with bots coming into your organization. Taking the approach of “taking the robot out of the human”, will help personnel to understand that bots are assisting, not innovating. As described above, the importance of properly training your workforce also applies here, and should align with those involved in your RPA CoE.

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Where to Go From Here

Smartbridge’s digital transformation and RPA specialists have extensive experience in building CoEs for businesses to scale up their RPA capabilities. We help seed the CoE within the processes and practices being automated and assist in ramping up skills and people through education. We will facilitate your organization with the following:

  • Select the right partner

  • Build the essential skills and capacity for RPA

  • Establish an effective governance model

  • Implement best practices

  • Train, prepare and scale up

Smartbridge can be the partner you’re looking for. Our RPA specialists will lead you through your automation journey to create a future-state automation start to finish strategy and road map. Through proper education, assessments, and even education, we carefully place you on a journey that creates market differentiation relative to your competition. Explore our RPA experience through our partnerships and resources below:

how to get started with RPA
how to get started with RPA

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By |2023-01-17T09:44:04-06:00February 17th, 2022|Article, Automation|

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