Many businesses have dabbled with robotic process automation (RPA). Leaders may have read a few articles on the topic or seen an analyst report extolling the virtues of the UiPath platform. As a result, they might feel they understand the concept and may even have seen it applied to basic workflows. However, some may have a shallow understanding of automation’s true capabilities, which can be hugely limiting.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering what has led us to this point. It often starts with users getting to grips with what seems like a complex technology, but it’s straightforward when described in simple terms. Namely, RPA is software that can act like a human using a computer. The result is a ‘robot’ able to click a mouse, copy and paste, and type on a keyboard just like a person, but virtually from within a machine.
If you add in optical character recognition (OCR) and artificial intelligence (AI) this allows the robot to ‘see’ and ‘think’, giving rise to Intelligent Automation (IA).
Once grasped, people often see opportunities for automation all around them. But in doing so, they might miss the bigger picture, limiting the full potential of RPA. The problem? They mistake task automation for process automation.
Task automation is where RPA is boxed into small pockets of basic activity, such as moving information from one database to another. While this can be beneficial, it is unlikely to ever deliver meaningful business benefits for an FTSE or Fortune 500 firm.
Process automation is where an end-to-end set of tasks are undertaken. Take the accounts payable process, for example, checking emails for invoices, extracting data and entering it into an enterprise resource management system, managing payments, supporting cash flow, and reporting on progress.
When seen like this, the difference between task and process automation is stark. The former is limited, the latter is revolutionary.
And the misunderstanding can lead to huge challenges. When people write off RPA as tactical, instead of engaging with the automation team, it is confined to small opportunities and limited implementations. The result? A self-fulfilling prophecy of poor outcomes.
The question is, how can automation leaders address this problem? Especially when the team or stakeholder mindset is entrenched in its limitations or complexities.
Here are a few ways to change the dynamic:
- Introduce an outside voice
It’s often the case that an external voice can influence internal teams, or act as a supportive reference to steer your peers. Bringing in an external specialist helps to independently describe the opportunities and identify the limitations of a company’s automation program can have a galvanizing effect on business leaders and convince them to reassess their view of automation.
- Educate and encourage with a communications strategy
With an opportunity to help people challenge their beliefs, we can begin to educate them. However, we must not approach them as if they’re wrong or don’t fully understand. This could further entrench their position and spell the end of automation. Instead, create a communications strategy that identifies barriers, builds tactics to address them, and has a clear goal in mind. This could be as simple as re-engaging with colleagues, and sharing inspiring stories and case studies about what other businesses have achieved – especially competitors.
- Hold an art-of-the-possible session
Another way to engage them is bring decision-makers together in a workshop to educate them about solutions that illustrate what’s capable within the organization. Show them the art of the possible.
- Start with the problem, present a solution, and then the tech
But don’t be tempted to jump straight to automation as the answer. Listen, understand, empathize, and don’t promise RPA will solve everything.
Seeing a problem through a broader digital transformation lens can lead to more productive discussions. This might lead to a better outcome where automation is combined with other solutions, such as document understanding, process improvement, and optimization techniques to truly scale the program.
Establish a plan to harness automation with our assistance
If you feel it would be beneficial to have some support when engaging your business customers, Tquila runs discovery workshops which take a top-down approach to identify and resolve business challenges. Our team can help to re-ignite automation programs, with UiPath at the heart.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact a representative to address the possibilities and accelerate your automation program.