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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the automation of repeatable and redundant, rule-based human action through the use of software bots.
These software robots are installed on a user’s machine or as a standalone self-managed automation, that can amimic a worker’s actions and replicate these activities on their own. Once the bot has performed its designated tasks, they can then report, notify, or handoff to another bot.
While RPA provides a breadth of opportunities for organizations to streamline mundane tasks and reallocate resources to focus on more complex endeavors, one of the biggest obstacles to adopting this technology is human nature itself. In any workplace, there are those who embrace change and those who reject it.
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, four factors predict a resistance to change in the workplace: Routine seeking, stress and tension, short-term thinking, and cognitive rigidity. In order to address this resistance, most organizations put a change management plan in place, but only 25 percent of change management efforts see success in the long run, according to Willis Towers Watson. Failure can often be attributed to training, communication, and lack of engagement among stakeholders.
RPA requires organizational transformative change on a great level, and this involves changing the culture of an organization to one that embraces and manages change and engages stakeholders and employees every step of the way.
“RPA requires organizational transformative change on a great level, and this involves changing the culture of an organization to one that embraces and manages change and engages stakeholders and employees every step of the way. ”
In order for RPA to provide the greatest return on investment, an organization must be very open to refinement and enhancement and intentional as it begins its organizational transformation. The following best practices help ensure that stakeholders are continuously engaged and valued, which will set the stage for successful implementation.
Identify and Assess
The first step is to work with stakeholders to identify the processes, functions, and activities to be automated by RPA. This includes identifying the workers involved in these processes, the impacts on these workers, and the additional processes that may be affected down the line.
For example, a leading insurance provider was looking for a way to streamline its quarterly data migration process, which took a team of 12 resources more than 2 weeks to validate, transfer, sync, categorize, and push the data to the new source. Identifying that planning, testing, and prepping took a large majority of these resources. The insurance provider adopted an RPA model to streamline these processes, reducing the time needed from 2 weeks to 15 minutes–without the chance of human error.
Engage and Communicate
In order to fully engage employees, an organization must develop a communication plan and engagement materials. These plans should identify engagement stakeholders that can provide feedback on the plans as well as carry the message to others within the organization. The organization should brief all parties on RPA and the proposed changes that come with it, including options for workers that will be affected by automation.
A change management initiative often fails because departments are siloed and key stakeholders are not communicated with cohesively. A holistic communications strategy that identifies an engagement point person in each area can help reach across organizational divides and gather input and feedback from all employees, making them feel valued as a part of the organization’s change.
Without these communications plans in place, automation efforts often stall once internal stakeholders realize their operations will be affected, especially if they feel their feedback was not valued during the planning process.
Plan and Prepare
After gathering feedback from stakeholders, an organization should develop a detailed implementation plan, including communications plans and change management materials. These plans should identify technical changes that could be made to bots to increase productivity and be reviewed with stakeholders to ensure the acceptance.
A part of this implementation plan should include change management training for managers. This enables managers to be a pivotal part of any organizational transformation, working directly with workers across all functional levels to ensure buy-in, feedback, and feasibility.
The implementation plan should also include resources to achieve long-term success, as well as meet short-term goals. Resources such as time and funding are key to ensuring long-term success that can lead to greater future efficiencies.
Implement and Evaluate
Once these plans are created, the organization should implement the communications and change management strategies. Implementation should include a testing phase with a quality assurance program as well as measurement of worker acceptance and compliance. Feedback from this phase should be incorporated into the official implementation of the RPA program. It's important to continue to evaluate and analyze results of implementation in order to identify additional opportunities for change, informing future projection and roadmapping efforts.
These best practices will not eliminate every worker’s fear of organizational change. However, by involving stakeholders in each step, an organization can gain stakeholder buy-in and cooperation from the start. By sharing knowledge and staying in constant communication with stakeholders throughout the process, organizations can ensure that they realize the maximum possible gains from automation and embrace ongoing autonomic advances in technology and software.
“How can #MI #RPA revolutionize workplace culture? Through stakeholder engagement, every step of the way. Read best practices here. ”
Check out our how to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) at your organization.