For the last generation, companies have been documenting, improving, redesigning, automating and placing controls on their business processes. But the confluence of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and the 2020 Pandemic have put a strain on these processes sending companies scrambling to reassess and reevaluate their viability. Many companies have found that their processes are insufficiently documented and not standardized; some with steps and exceptions still undocumented.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
In the last 3 years, the implementation of RPA Bots in organizations have been touted for their potential of an easy implementation and quick ROI. Companies have bought licenses, identified manual processes, and executed pilot projects.
Many of those pilot projects failed. Not because the RPA software products didn’t work but because of the state of the company’s processes. Due to the exacting nature needed for RPA, the variability and instability of the processes chosen brought projects to a grinding halt during the testing phase. As new exceptions and process steps were identified, that required rework to the Bot causing the ROI numbers to dwindle and making leaders cautious about proceeding with RPA.
Even so, there have been many RPA success stories. That success, though, is attributable to having standardized processes with minimal variability.
The 2020 Pandemic
Without much time to prepare, the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly forced a disruption of professional resources. This separation of resources and process knowledge has presented an ultimate test for process readiness. Recently, stories have surfaced about companies facing challenges completing day to day operations and managing dispersed teams. Certainly, technology readiness played a role, but a primary contributor was the variability and anecdotal nature of the company’s “repetitive” processes.
Pre-pandemic, most companies benefited from the luxury of having a critical mass of people in the same place. Whether in separate facilities or shared services centers, there was always an extra level of insulation in case problems occur. Post-pandemic, an increased level of remote work will continue to be a reality, putting more pressure on businesses to standardize processes and reevaluate controls.
Ensuring the viability and durability of processes is a must for companies looking to think strategically about optimization. With the opportunities presented by RPA efficiencies and the immediacy brought on by the 2020 Pandemic, smart businesses should assess their processes. This will ensure the scaling and maximization of their RPA investment and stabilize their operations to harmonize with the “new normal” of people working remotely.
About the Author Jim serves as our national business process optimization and automation subject matter expert. He brings a deep background in process improvement, business automation and RPA. Jim has many years of experience standing up and project managing successful implementation teams. He has run steering committees for software evaluation and managed large ERP project implementations.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs in this area and share our thought leadership to help your team. www.jeffersonwells.com