RPA center of excellence: what are the key roles?

Time:2020-1-14

Robot process automation (RPA) can bring great changes to people’s working methods. In the past two years, RPA has developed rapidly and gradually applied to many industries, such as finance, insurance, aviation and so on. It can be said that RPA is sweeping the whole industry.

Many enterprises may need to deal with thousands of business processes every day. Through RPA solutions, enterprises can use software robots to automatically deal with repetitive, tedious and time-consuming business processes, so that employees can spare time to focus on and deal with more valuable activities. This will undoubtedly improve efficiency, reduce costs and reduce compliance pressure for enterprises.

RPA center of excellence: what are the key roles?
Building an RPA center of excellence: a good start is half the battle

When enterprises introduce RPA plans, they are often enthusiastic, but they are often blocked in the process of implementation. Deloitte in its “robot ready, you? 》According to the article, only 3% of enterprises have overcome various obstacles and expanded the subsequent deployment of RPA to 50 or more robots.

A good beginning is half the battle. Many enterprises have built RPA centers of excellence at the beginning of RPA development, which lay a good foundation for subsequent deployment and expansion through the development of a sound implementation framework, so that the RPA of enterprises can be smoothly promoted and benefit maximized.

What is the RPA center of excellence?

RPA center of excellence is the operation organization for enterprises to coordinate automation initiatives, which is generally composed of multi-functional Department experts. If RPA COE is compared to a stage, there are four key roles to play, namely, professionals from business processes, it, HR and business departments. They perform their respective duties, and provide overall management, communication and collaboration and empowerment support for RPA automation deployment and management by breaking internal barriers.

It can be seen that the RPA center of excellence is the top-level architecture design for RPA implementation. Top level design is helpful for enterprises to form a unified RPA strategy, achieve synergy, improve overall operation and continuous optimization.

RPA center of excellence: what are the key roles?
Four key roles: performing their respective functions

The four key roles refer to the four cross functional shared service departments in an enterprise, and the RPA center of excellence is composed of members from these four departments. Now, let’s see what their respective responsibilities and expertise are, and how to deal with the challenges faced in the implementation of RPA, so that RPA can create unique value for enterprises.

Business process improvement department
The role of business process experts is very important. They help functional departments and business departments identify, analyze and prioritize tasks and processes that need to be automated. First of all, they need to understand two basic issues, namely, the process and tasks are divided into the following two categories:

Tasks that need to be automated: these tasks are generally based on rules, in large business processes such as payment processing, and affect a large number of customers.
Tasks that do not need to be automated: such tasks are generally complex, such as the recall of parts and components that are not common in enterprises, and the applicable customer base is very small.
Obviously, many tasks and processes fall into the first category. Next, enterprises need to prioritize these tasks automatically, and prioritize those tasks that can maximize impact and achieve the highest return. How to measure the implementation effect and ROI of RPA is a big challenge to business process experts. When it comes to measurement, enterprises first need to make clear what objectives they want RPA to achieve, and process experts will analyze the current status and develop benchmark indicators based on these objectives. Cost saving or task processing time reduction is the most common goal of enterprises. In fact, the benefits of RPA also cover many other aspects, such as: reducing temporary employees for seasonal peak; improving quality by reducing error rate and rework rate; ensuring that process steps meet regulatory requirements, promoting better consistency and compliance; completing tasks faster and more accurately, and customer body Continuous improvement; employees no longer need to engage in boring work, and their enthusiasm is strengthened.

Human Resources Department
The main obstacle in the implementation of RPA is not technology itself, but the impact of technology on people. Automation will bring convenience to employees, but at the same time, it will cause anxiety and even fear. HR plays a very important role in the following aspects:

Eliminate employees’ fear of RPA. HR needs to clearly explain the benefits of RPA to employees, so that they can understand that RPA will not replace their work, but will help and enhance their work efficiency, so that they can better achieve their goals.
Improve the skills of employees so that they can be competent for more complex work. Enterprises can reconfigure the human resources released by RPA. HR needs to provide skills training for these personnel. For example, for employees transferred to customer service department, they need to strengthen their problem-solving ability and master good communication skills.
Assess turnover and recruitment plan. Automation will free employees from boring work, help to improve the enthusiasm of employees and reduce turnover rate, which will also have an impact on the recruitment plan. HR needs to work with the business department to continuously evaluate the human resource demand. For example, the demand for seasonal manpower is greatly reduced, which will reduce the workload of recruitment and induction training for HR.
IT Department
The application of RPA is mainly the transformation of information system. The importance of IT department in the center of excellence of RPA is self-evident. Its function is to ensure the smooth operation of RPA at the technical level, mainly including four aspects: infrastructure and operability; security; software robot support and maintenance; consistency and scalability.   

Maintaining robot operability is a very complex work. Any change to the application interface will affect the robot. IT department has a major responsibility to deal with the change. To ensure uninterrupted operability, it departments need to regularly test automation applications. Security is the focus of today’s enterprises and it departments. Without security as a guarantee, equipment operation will be impossible. RPA can reduce employees’ access to sensitive data, so it has inherent security. When an unattended RPA robot accesses an application with sensitive information, it is carried out through a centralized and secure specific location. Compared with the global distributed employee desktop system, this way takes a lot of risks.

Like maintaining a key business enterprise application, many security procedures and governance policies are applicable to RPA deployment. For example, it departments need to set and manage access permissions, which users have permissions, and which automated applications can be published, which need to be monitored and managed. In addition, it departments need to conduct a comprehensive review of each robot and the work it performs. Fortunately, most RPA solutions now have built-in audit reporting.

As the saying goes, an iron camp is a water soldier. There will be changes in personnel, but the system will always be manned. When robot software has problems, RPA center of excellence should be the first platform for business departments to ask for help. The center should have its own experts, who are from it department or business department, familiar with the operation of RPA software, and can provide system support as the first level service desk.

Another key function of RPA Excellence Center is to manage process automation application list, help enterprises properly record process steps, quickly identify defective automatic applications, and enable enterprises to actively and effectively carry out security and risk management. In addition, by exploring the effectiveness of core automation applications, enterprises can achieve a higher level of scalability.

Business department
The starting point and end point of automation is the business department, which knows the relevant process and task characteristics of automation best, so has the most say in implementing RPA business case. Many enterprises will encourage grassroots employees to put forward automation suggestions, because the original intention of automation is based on the idea of making employees’ work more valuable.   

Business departments should not only actively look for automation opportunities, but also be responsible for guiding and promoting changes in tools and processes so that employees can understand the value of RPA to the business. At the same time, business departments also need to establish a new change management method and monitor the progress of RPA implementation.

The business unit is the beneficiary of the final automation initiative, and the significance of RPA deployment is to help the business unit improve efficiency, solve business problems, and improve the staff and customer experience.

RPA represents the future of the interaction industry. The successful implementation of RPA requires a deep understanding of business and process, as well as excellent technical capabilities. You may have heard of the new term “chief automation officer”. Nowadays, more and more enterprises begin to set up this position. Cao is not only responsible for formulating and comprehensively managing the automation strategy of the enterprise, he is like the general director of the RPA center of excellence, initiating, coordinating and leading relevant RPA initiatives for business processes, HR, it, business departments and other major roles, ensuring that the development of RPA is consistent with the strategic objectives of the enterprise, so that RPA can create real value for the enterprise.