We’ve outlined guidelines to establish an RPA Center of Excellence that will be sustainable, maintainable, and bring process and technology improvements.
As your organization begins the journey into Robotic Process Automation (RPA), there are several ways you can approach this initiative.
The approach you take will depend on your company culture, available resources (human and technical), and investment in this technology.
As part of the initiative though, we highly recommend that you establish an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) as part of your long-term plans.
Below are guidelines to help you on the path to establishing an RPA CoE that will be sustainable, maintainable, and continually bring process and technology improvements to your automation initiatives.
1. Establish an RPA Team –
A clearly defined team with documented roles and responsibilities will help bring structure to any RPA initiative.
Roles should include at a minimum: RPA Sponsor, RPA Developer, Solution Architect (this can be both an IT Architect as well as an RPA Architect), RPA Automation Specialist/Controller (helps to control the execution of the automations), and an RPA Business Analyst.
Dedicated Project Managers can also be a part of the team but more than likely they will be brought in on a project-by-project basis.
It is important that the team have a charter and mission so they can manage their environment accordingly and create a common set of goals and values. The team should be self-governing, to some degree, given that individuals who work in this type of framework are highly desired.
2. Build a Proof of Concept Bot –
This may seem a bit counter-intuitive to the overall process, but you should first understand the RPA tool chosen by your organization.
That will provide firsthand knowledge of the ease of use and complexity of the tool, the benefits you can derive from automation, and how this tool can be part of the larger technology stack in the organization.
Having informed technologists and users will also aid in driving the adoption across the enterprise and lead to more well-educated, informed decisions.
3. Establish an RPA CoE Steering Committee –
The RPA CoE Steering Committee will provide oversight and governance to the RPA initiative, and will also understand the culture and technology of the organization and how RPA can thrive in the organization.
The committee should be made up of members across the organization, from HR, Operations, and IT to Finance and Audit. As with the RPA Team, the committee should have a clearly defined charter with roles and responsibilities for its members, frequency of meetings, and more.
The committee should ensure that any automation initiatives support the overall strategy of the business and IT organization, including the adoption of RPA across a variety of business units to drive economies of scale.
This group can help identify “quick wins” so that others across the organization can see the potential of the technology.
4. Create an RPA Strategy and Roadmap –
Too often, organizations continue to work on automations and deploy them without an overall strategy or long-term plan in place. This is where an RPA Roadmap is essential.
The roadmap will outline the near-term and long-term objectives of the program and will not only consider the technology needs of the organization as part of RPA but also the organizational and cultural aspects.
Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a key aspect of any RPA journey and will help to minimize the fears of staff, especially those directly impacted by any automation. The more the organization understands “where we are going” and the positive impact it can have to their daily workloads, the stronger your initiative will become.
5. Create an Effective Governance Process and Model –
As RPA begins to cross varying departments in the organization, the need to create new automations will grow. So there needs to be a Demand Management process in place to govern this process.
This model should include but is not limited to:
- Process discovery and selection
- Prioritization guidelines
- Return on Investment (ROI) calculations
- Oversight of knowledgebase and any documentation associated with the overall RPA program or a given automation
- Establishment of best practices for both business and IT, including the RPA team
- Ensure adherence to best practices
- Continuous Service Improvement (CSI)
6. Define an Operations and Support Model –
Organizations have placed the responsibility for RPA with IT but many of them also place the management and support within the business units. Regardless of where it resides, there needs to be a defined model as to how testing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance and support will be handled.
How will RPA deployments fit into the overall IT Change Management and Incident Management processes? Will deployments need to follow enterprise standards for production implementations, or will they create their own?
How does the Service Desk play into Incident Management? How will changes to applications being used within an automation be communicated to the RPA team so that automations can be changed accordingly? What is the testing and user acceptance guidelines?
All these components are critical to the success of an RPA program and how it is supported daily throughout the organization.
7. Manage Organizational Change –
Probably more than any other changes taking place in organizations today, RPA can impact employees directly.
That’s why it is important to be proactive in your approach to OCM. This includes not only the oversight for employee morale as changes are rolled out, but also operational planning and organizational redesign recommendations that need to take place.
The more information that can be shared with staff members – for instance, an RPA 101 program – the greater likelihood there will be greater acceptance of the program and subsequent automations.
You should establish Communities of Interest (CoI) groups with members from across the organization who can act as RPA Champions to help to ease the transition across the organization.
8. Continued Collaboration with IT –
As RPA continues to grow in the organization and more internal and third-party applications are accessed via an automation, the more collaboration that is required between the RPA Team, IT, and the end-users.
Application changes being requested by the end-users and made by IT can have a direct impact on deployed automations and could cause errors in the environment if not properly addressed.
More frequent and effective communication and collaboration needs to be established to minimize potential impacts.