10 RPA implementation best practices

Three professionals collaborate around a computer using RPA implementation best practices to launch an automation initiative.

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Robotic process automation (RPA) is a logical next step for your digital transformation efforts. As more and more organizations seek to optimize their business processes, the question isn’t “Is RPA a good idea?”

The question must be: “How can we become an RPA success story?”

As senior vice president and chief innovation officer at Hyland, I’m happy to share my insight on when to use RPA, six RPA success stories, and my 10 RPA implementation best practices.

When would you decide to use RPA?

Organizations should use RPA when they need to solve business challenges with straight-forward automation. Examples of when RPA is most effective:

  • You have predictable workflows
  • Your process efficiency and accuracy could be improved by eliminating manual work
  • Your operational costs are higher than they should be
  • Your IT team is increasingly overwhelmed and needs relief
  • You are integrating with legacy systems or systems that don’t have readily accessible or easy-to-use APIs

As part of a larger content services strategy that may also leverage intelligent automation and information management capabilities, RPA can be a game-changer. Though its use is trending upward, RPA is a tried and tested solution that delivers large returns with relatively little effort.

Robotic process automation success stories

With numerous vertical and horizontal applications, organizations use RPA tools when they have a need to automate manual, high-volume and repetitive data tasks.

RPA success stories usually involve tasks where human touch does not add incremental business value. For example, RPA solutions created wins for these industries:

Financial services Investment bank automated regulator reporting activities
Utility provider Simplified billing and field work processing
Customer care Automated product change requests in SAP
Fashion Iconic fashion designer increased accuracy in calculations, statements, reports, forecasts and order processing
Insurance Life insurance company used automated document verification and autopay
Government South Carolina county automated property tax processing

10 RPA implementation best practices

How can you deploy RPA implementation best practices and find the most compatible RPA provider for your organization?

There is really no such thing as a one-size-fits-all RPA solution, but you have to start somewhere.

Here are 10 tips to get you started with RPA.

10 RPA implementation best practices. 1: Define your needs. 2. Extend your RPA. 3. Prioritize the user experience. 4. Be aware of costs and different pricing models. 5. Start small, think big – plan for scalability for the use of bots. 6. Adopt RPA security best practices. 7. Make sure your team is prepared. 8. Embrace the future of automation. 9. Consider the added value of a specialized RPA platform. 10. Plan for RPA’s impact on human capital management.

1. Define your needs: Piecemeal or end-to-end RPA software provider?

Before you can choose a solution and vendor, you need to understand how much you can automate your business process.

Are there just a few high-priority tasks, or are you planning to automate more processes across business units now or in the future?

Will your needs be met with a standard solution, or do you need a more targeted offering?

Off-the-shelf RPA tools are great for relatively straight-forward automation needs. The same is true if you’re looking to upscale simple processes.

When it comes to addressing larger and more complex processes, however, your organization needs a trusted partner, not just an advanced robotic process automation tool. Look for RPA partners with:

  • A holistic automation approach
  • A long history in helping organizations in your industry transform processes
  • A suite of end-to-end RPA tools — from process analysis to bot management
  • The bandwidth to provide expert guidance

It is key that your RPA provider can give you software that is easy to use, so you can automate processes on your own.

This is best done with a simplified deployment structure that doesn’t require a lot of coding and customization, but does reduce your reliance on IT.

Complete this best practice: Decide whether you need an RPA software-only vendor or an end-to-end RPA provider to make your processes more efficient and cost-effective.

> Learn more | Webinar: Thinking intelligently about automation

2. Extending RPA: Check integration options and complementary capabilities

Robotic process automation technologies don’t work in a vacuum. Most RPA deployments involve other systems from the start and expand to other departments and processes over time.

This growth potential makes considering RPA’s integration capabilities a key part of your decision-making process. During evaluation, include both those integrations in your initial scope and any that are likely to be brought into scope in the future.

In addition, you can often extend the value of RPA with complementary technologies. For example,  utilizing intelligent automation technologies  such as advanced data capture or customer communications management (CCM) can drastically improve both user and customer experience as well as leveling up your entire process automation.

Beware, not every RPA tool supports these capabilities, so you need to make sure it is factored into when developing your functional requirements.

Complete this best practice: Check the capabilities of available RPA software extensions and align them with your requirements and objectives.

> Learn more | The intelligent capture tool developed by neuroscientists

Co-workers work at a conference table with laptops, considering RPA implementation best practices.

3. Prioritize the user experience

Because people usually think of RPA as an autonomous technology, organizations often mistakenly overlook the importance of the user experience.

However, since RPA tools often see less human interaction than many other applications, making those interactions optimal and intuitive is critically important. A complex or poorly designed user interface can delay the implementation of new software robots and can contribute to individual resistance and impact the adoption of RPA within an organization.

When it comes to RPA, don’t think of user experience as limited to monitoring bots and processes. A capable RPA platform provides intuitive and optimized interfaces for process documentation, automation design and advanced reporting and analytics. The right interface will help your users and admins work faster and better, whether they work with a handful or hundreds of bots.

Complete this best practice: Commit to user interface excellence and robust admin features.

4. Be aware of costs and different pricing models

When investing in new technology, it is important to have a clear overview of the total cost of ownership (TCO) and to include both direct and indirect costs.

This means  calculating the cost of the technology based on the provider’s pricing, but also accounting for any additional fees. For example, there could be fees for integrations, consulting, maintenance, training and other costs related to your specific circumstances.

By taking this wide view of the costs, you will be able to ascertain which pricing model works best for you.

Robotic process automation platforms can be priced in dramatically different ways depending on the vendor.  Some  may offer traditional per-bot licensing, while others utilize pay-per-use models in which costs only accrue when an automated process is successfully completed.

In other words, costs are only calculated if the software robots are actually active.

Complete this best practice: Search for the most suitable pricing model in relation to your own processes, taking long-term effectiveness and scalability into account.

5. Start small, think big: Plan for scalability for the use of bots

Starting your automation journey can be a relatively small and inexpensive endeavor, but to truly gain a competitive edge, you need to think about how to deploy robotic process automation at scale well in advance.

This is when carrying out a feasibility check would be prudent.

Ask potential robotic process automation providers for success stories relating to scalability (for example, is it feasible to substantially increase the number of bots?).

By expanding RPA across more processes, your organization can take advantage of economies of scale. This allows you to reap the full potential of RPA.

But not all RPA tools are set up to scale easily; however, it is essential for your organization to have the ability to do so and manage your RPA solution in-house. If you have to rely on disparate solutions across your enterprise, it will result in a disjointed RPA implementation that is hard to manage and makes it impossible to realize the benefits of economies of scale.

Complete this best practice: Ensure your RPA provider’s deployment model can scale with your needs.

A team meets in a modern conference room to figure out the best way to plan for scalability for the use of RPA bots.

6. Adopt RPA security best practices

By reducing human contact with your sensitive information, robotic process automation actually helps your organization reduce security risks and improve compliance with new regulations like GDPR and CCPA.

However, for this to be the case, the software itself needs to be completely secure. Unfortunately, not all software is equal when it comes to security.

If software is poorly designed, it can lead to both exposure of sensitive data and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.

You must ensure your vendor adheres to a stringent and secure development lifecycle methodology, that will result in a software that contains fewer vulnerabilities.

You could also check to see if your vendor has invested in any outside security audits and certifications of their products. They may even provide specialized solutions and best practices that help with your specific industry regulations.

Complete this best practice: Choose a vendor that’s prepared for your organization’s security requirements.

7. Make sure your team is prepared

To make sure your team is ready to take advantages of robotic process automation, you should enroll them in relevant training courses.

Having sufficient knowledge and the correct software will allow to you automate processes independently in the long-term.

Also, the availability of video tutorials and hands-on training helps your team quickly familiarize themselves with RPA solutions. Some RPA solution providers go a step further and offer free courses, training materials and community forums where users support each other.

Complete this best practice: Ask potential RPA providers about training opportunities.

> Learn more | Hyland RPA training courses

8. Embrace the future of process automation

Self-learning bots are the future of RPA.

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI), especially machine learning, ensures your system learns from previous decisions. This enables it to handle rule-based processes independently.

A vendor that integrates intelligent technologies such as AI and machine learning is able to both satisfy a variety of industry requirements and minimize the need for ongoing bot maintenance.

Complete this best practice: Find a supplier that is prepared for the intelligent future of process automation.

> Learn more | Intelligent process automation (IPA) best practices

9. Consider the added value of a specialized RPA platform

When considering providers of robotic process automation, options range from generic platform vendors to providers who include more specialized tools appropriate for specific situations as well as RPA.

Understanding your business requirements and existing or planned IT investments can help you choose the right provider.

RPA addresses data-centric processes, so one area of added value to look for is content and process management.

Today’s leading content services platforms offer RPA with native capabilities for managing content and processes across the entire information lifecycle.

Choosing a specialized RPA provider that understands your entire information lifecycle and your industry can give you accelerated access to:

  • End-to-end automation options
  • Innovative technologies
  • Enterprise scalability
  • Industry and departmental solutions that leverage RPA best practices in a way that is tailor-fit to your specific business needs

If you’ve already invested in a content services platform or are considering a move, it’s worth assessing your provider’s RPA capabilities and intelligent automation expertise.

Complete this best practice: Evaluate the added value of implementing RPA as part of a comprehensive information management platform.

10. Plan for RPA’s impact on human capital management

Among the most important RPA implementation best practices is on often overlooked: Planning for the impact on your organization’s human capital.

The adoption of RPA can lead to employees perceiving that the technology is taking away human jobs. If this is a potential risk in your RPA implementation, you should address this in your planning process and work with your HR department to fully evaluate and mitigate any negative impact on your employees.

> Learn more | Will RPA replace jobs?

Because organizations use RPA to automate repetitive, high-volume data processing tasks where human touch does not add value, the tedious and mundane nature of such work can lead to employee burnout and churn.

Deploying RPA to such processes can provide opportunities for your team to elevate their work to higher-level and higher-value processes for your organization. This value-add contributes to their professional growth and delivering greater value to your customers.

Complete this best practice: Consult with your HR department and executive team to identify opportunities for improved human capital utilization.

Try RPA before you purchase it

Hyland, a leading content services provider for organizations around the world, was recognized as a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave ™: Robotic Process Automation, Q1 2021 report.

Ready to experiment with process automation at your organization? Start your 60-day trial of Hyland RPA today!

A robot hovers while a text overlay says: "Free RPA trial: Test drive Hyland RPA risk-free for 60 days." Click here to start your trial today.

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Sam Babic is SVP, chief technology officer of Hyland. In July 1997, he joined the company as a software engineer. Over the last 22 years, he has grown along with the R&D organization from Engineer, to Manager, to Associate Vice President, to VP, Chief Software Architect, and finally as CTO. He started in the organization when there were less than eight developers and now leads a team of over 1,200. Sam has a passion for managing innovation, and his job as CTO is to position our technology to support the content services platform of the future. In 1997, Sam graduated first in his class from Cleveland State University with a degree in electrical engineering. Sam also spent four years as a federal junior fellow for NASA while obtaining his degree.
Sam Babic

Sam Babic

Sam Babic is SVP, chief technology officer of Hyland. In July 1997, he joined the company as a software engineer. Over the last 22 years, he has grown along with... read more about: Sam Babic