Don't let RPA initiative fizzle out
Blog 24/04/2019

Strategies for accelerating and spreading change with a People1st approach

According to a recent study by KPMG and HFS Research, the hype over robotic process automation (RPA) is ripe for reassessment. Although most organisations recognise the potential benefits of RPA, and 77 percent are currently satisfied with their initial exploration of the space, only 13 percent have actually been able to scale their RPA initiatives across the enterprise.

At Softomotive, we’ve observed the same pattern. When we speak to companies that have tried to implement RPA with other vendors, they are often disillusioned. They thought they were doing everything right: they had concentrated their RPA talent in a Centre of Excellence and had some small-scale early successes, but when it came to enterprise-wide deployment, enthusiasm fizzled out. The expected big bang turned out to be a damp squib.

What had happened? They had made a very understandable mistake. Their whole approach was back-to-front. By concentrating all their RPA expertise in a central team, away from the line of business, they removed the catalyst that is necessary to accelerate adoption.

Kindling change

At Softomotive, we advocate a totally new way to deploy RPA—what we call our People1st approach. The key is to democratise RPA with a bottom-up approach that encourages line-of-business teams to create, use and share their own automation projects.

But how do we achieve this bottom-up approach in practice? After all, most line-of-business departments aren’t naturally composed of RPA experts. There is a mix of abilities, from more technical roles such as developers and analysts through to operationally focused staff. Different people will need different types of training, depending on their skills and experience.

That’s where Ignition Teams come in. An Ignition Team is a group of RPA experts who don’t sit in a Centre of Excellence—instead, they move between departments and embed themselves in the line of business to help encourage and drive change.

The ignition process is iterative and forms a virtuous cycle. It starts with a skills audit, segmenting the members of each department into foundation, intermediate and advanced groups. Based on the proportions of each group, the Ignition Team draws up a project plan to provide training and support to help the department begin automating tasks. This plan is then executed, the results are monitored, and the Ignition Team conducts a review to share knowledge with other Ignition Teams operating elsewhere in the business.

This cycle is typically repeated multiple times until it becomes self-sustaining. For example, the Ignition Team may initially consist entirely of Softomotive consultants—but one of the top priorities will be to work with the more advanced users to help them become experts and mentors to their peers. As a result, after the first few cycles, these advanced users can form their own Ignition Team and continue driving the department’s RPA projects forward without external support.

Over time, people will move up from the intermediate group and become advanced RPA users, while foundation-level users will move into the intermediate tier. The result is that everyone in the department quickly becomes a competent user of RPA tools in their day-to-day work while increasing numbers also gain the skills to become “citizen developers”, capable of building new automated tasks and processes for themselves.

Driving adoption

Once the Ignition Teams have kindled enthusiasm for RPA projects in multiple departments, demand tends to spread across the business like wildfire. Instead of feeling like RPA-assisted processes are being imposed on them from outside, departments will proudly advocate for the clever automations they have developed themselves.

When you’ve reached this point, Ignition Teams can start to play a slightly different role—shifting their focus from developer training to user adoption. If one department has automated a use case that is also relevant in other contexts across the business, the Ignition Team can work with foundation-level users in other departments to help them adopt it in their own work. This approach helps to manage change effectively and ensure that efficiency-enhancing innovations don’t remain siloed in the departments that invented them.

To take a deeper dive into how Ignition Teams and the Softomotive People1st approach can guide you to a successful RPA strategy, read our new white paper, or download one of our guides today:

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