Why are clients keen to accept introducing RPA?
This article will show a case study where a consultancy approach to process automation was successful.
The success reasons are based on what the two clients accepted in this first step of Digital transformation.
The initial idea of the customers was to explore how they could improve their business using digitalisation.
I initially suggested starting with achievable upgrades with RPA: Robotic Process automation. As far as it happened with digitalisation, I immediately understood that the technical hype has hidden or not correctly communicated what RPA is and what issues and opportunities Managing Consultants can find to deliver value with their skills.
To make this short:
1. Still, there is not a clear distinction between AI and Machine Learning and RPA Robotic Process Automation
2. Business process management (BPM) and RPA: as the first is still popular mostly among big companies, and RPA, in any case, involves processes, the risk is that the high-weight technology) can keep smaller companies away from automation.
3. Conversely, RPA (lightweight technology ) involves installing software robots that mimic human behaviour following pre-programmed rules. The software interacts with the existing graphical user interface without requiring new application programming interfaces or software services and without any intervention in the legacy software architectures.
Having adequately defined and clarified processes and automation, the discussion focused on how to allocate automation in the context. The context was easy to agree with.
There is a growing digitalisation adoption, with volatility and uncertainty, where customers are more expert and demanding of digital offerings. Internally, productivity needs to be recovered to improve digital customer experience (selling) and customer satisfaction (services and support), gathering the most insights from data.
After the second agreement gained with the clients about the points above, I remarked on the process weaknesses in the highlighted context.
A. “Culture is the way we do things around here.” . Simply put, “How we behave in doing our work”. Organisational culture is the first obstacle to overcome if one considers the company’s lack of awareness of automation and the concerns about losing the job one day.
B. It is not a surprise that ERP and CRM fail to meet the organisational goals because of their underutilisation after the initial implementation and adoption.
C. Another element discovered based on the issues mentioned earlier was the silos situation. In addition to limited information and data exchange between offices or departments, with information retention, other “hidden” issues in having silos in your organisation involve:
· Undetectable sub-cultures: Are we working as “Us”, or do we use “them”?
· Blaming games: no additional comments are required here
· Disengagement at work: people who do not feel belonging to the global team
Final effect? Impact on Customer Experience
All the points above were not neglected by the MD and the Director of the two companies. The issues above exist already.
We moved then to the possible impact of the current situation: Impact on business- risks for both companies to experience revenues losses because of difficulty to have in place a proper customer centricity without further overwhelming personnel
Impact on employees: Frustration, demotivation, and high-stress levels due to repetitive and tedious tasks with a low level of challenge; thus, automation can obviously improve their well-being.
Furthermore, I want to highlight what made the real difference in signing the contracts.
The proposed approach, and the involvement of people, considering them the real protagonists of designing the change, was accepted as a way of reducing many typical issues of a change process.
In addition to classic and recurrent resistance factors, clients recognised that people are afraid of being replaced by technology and becoming obsolete in the job market, as we mentioned.
Usually, resistance comes from the lack of genuine involvement of middle managers and employees; thus, resistance management, motivational activity, and training must remove the roadblocks to reaching the final goal of go-live and adopting solutions.
Process automation based on middle managers’ and employees’ tasks made sense to them. Without fear of replacement, the new technology can effectively customise processes, especially if they drive requirements gathering and design the new workflows, reports, etcetera.
The last benefit of disrupting silos was valuable as well.
Why? Different departments will better accept the goal of automating work with mutual benefits (WIIFM - what is in it for me). Simultaneously silos can be broken, and it can be possible to assign responsibility to those familiar with and understand the processes that will be automated in a controlled environment by IT and consulting for business benefits.
There are plenty of opportunities, I feel, for clients and consultants with a slightly different approach to change. Moreover, it looks like TECH is at our service, not on the way around. Happy days ahead.
 Herm, LV., Janiesch, C., Helm, A. et al. A framework for implementing robotic process automation projects. Inf Syst E-Bus Manage (2022) required for the former and both the IT (investments) and organisational effort required can keep away other smaller companies.
 Deal, Terrence E. & Kennedy, Allan A., 1983. “Corporate cultures: The rites and rituals of corporate life”