Allow yourself thinking time to explore how RPA will improve business processes

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Of the many factors that create business success, one of the most important must be thinking time, without which we wouldn't amount to much. Leadership development companies have made a fortune underlining this basic principle. Yet, thinking time is often hard to come by, especially if we are mega-successful. And sometimes what isn't broken doesn't get updated. If it's working well, why look to change anything?

However, with 2020 having presented more thinking time across a variety of businesses, what new opportunities could we explore? With automation being the hot topic, department heads are looking at RPA to see if they can improve business operations. Many of them now have the time to step back, assess the big picture and look ahead to how their department could run better in 2021 and beyond.

The key to successful thinking time is taking stock of what you currently have. For automation to play its part in your new business plan, it's crucial you do your homework. If you want some inspiration to see if RPA might work for you, our CTO Tommi Holmgren came up with his top 10 favourite use cases recently. If you see yourself on the list (and even if you don't), let's see how to go about taking stock of current status.

Homework before RPA

The first thing you should do is assess what already works well. Think about whether your current goals are still applicable to what you're trying to achieve. When you look into the detail of a working process, you may find ways to shave off the rough edges with RPA. There are bumps in even the smoothest of roads. Finding these, and applying automation so that the process glides effortlessly, could make your business a much more efficient proposition this year.

Take a look at the outcomes from your current processes, too. You were expecting most of them, but some outcomes may have been unexpected for better or for worse. And what sub-processes do you see beneath the surface? Are they in need of streamlining, or even dumping? How well do they work, and when was the last time they were updated? Which processes cross departments in your organisation, and do they work well? Are there variations in your processes that could be improved, or perhaps they are disruptive? Who is involved and what do they bring to the table?

It's many questions to answer, but doing the homework is the first step in seeing how automation can help you become a much better outfit in 2021. If you don't do the homework and apply RPA to broken processes, your outcomes will also be broken. The key to an effective overhaul of your business processes is digging into the details so that any automation you implement will bring about greater success.

Discover solutions together

One of the most important elements of analysing your current processes is to get buy-in on what you want to change. Different departments will have processes that interconnect with others, and lines of communication don't always match what you're trying to achieve. So, when you're looking to use RPA to influence more successful outcomes from your processes, be sure to take your workforce on the journey with you. Not only will this transparency be beneficial in opening lines of communication, you may also learn things from those closest to the projects you undertake. Without employee buy-in for RPA, you may find yourself with an automation-resistant organisation when they could have a bot of their own!

Questions to answer would include: Who's involved in each phase of a particular process? What do they do, what do they want to do better, and what can they contribute to the development of the RPA? If automation is a route out of great difficulty, as proclaimed by a recent Protocol article, the key to making the route free of obstacles is including those people for whom RPA will improve their daily working lives.

And from RPA come opportunities, such as new training, which leads to new jobs, which should lead to improved ROI. RPA has the power to enhance business processes while rejuvenating legacy systems. "I believe that [RPA] can do for business processes what the cloud has done for IT processes,” said Daniel Dines, founder and CEO of UiPath. If he's right, the combination of a digital workforce and human workforce to achieve 100% efficiency just isn't worth ignoring.

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