RPA -- especially as it relates to automation of non-value-add tasks -- is the buzz word of 2021 and for good reason; the pandemic has exerted enormous pressure on companies and especially businesses related to consumer interactions. Process automation provides a means to address the pressure for change without a wholesale replacement of legacy applications. I would say the in the case of process automation and integration of legacy ERP and operational applications, the pandemic supplied an incentive necessary to jump the cliff into action, or face an exceedingly high probability of failure. RPA is a strong technology that needed business demand and vision to achieve critical mass and the pandemic provided that push.
The pandemic released waves of disruption that are rocking the current market. I would say at this point there is no end in sight. The popular phrase now is ‘the new normal’ as it relates to your personal life and I would say that ‘the new normal’ aptly describes the waves of disruption battering the market. The current marketplace requires navigating through waves of disruption that are also building and extending to create this ‘new normal’ that is more accurately described as continuous disruption. All businesses need process and tools that are flexible to help in reacting quickly and efficiently in the new normal. This is where RPA enters the equation, to support the flexibility in process execution necessary to react to the waves of continuous disruption.
The second piece of the equation is a necessary robust continuous improvement program to first sense the disruption, or potential, and then second to decide the reaction necessary to respond to the disruption. You can then use the RPA tool to develop the response the disruption and the tool will support your efforts across applications and people and legacy processes. Without this combination of people, process and tool/technology there is simply no way to respond to the types and velocity of disruption we are currently experiencing and at this point there is no reason to believe the disruption will subside any time soon.
This requires a goal or aim that provides the direction and ‘north star’ strategy used in directing responses to the disruption. You must have this direction to ensure you are moving the business forward, without a direction you would simply bounce from one response to another with no relationships leading eventually to failure. Robust and flexible people, process and technology/tools support the strategy but they do not relieve the requirement of a strategy. The key to success then is a strategy that is flexible and pliable to react to the market disruptions without breaking.
The discussion and selection of a flexible and robust RPA tool means nothing without the guidance from a well-planned strategy. This is the difficult part of the equation; the tool selection is relatively straight forward and the continuous improvement process is a basic tenant of a lean process methodology. The strategy requires knowledge of both your business and the market to deliver value and support the success of your business. It is important not to ignore or pinch on the development of the strategy. This is where a knowledgeable partner can bring value to help guide the strategy development and most importantly develop the process you can use to support and deliver the strategy. Partners are not generic sio it is important that you find a partner with expertise in your industry and expertise in the process automation opportunities.
We are lucky in this time of continuous disruption that we have the tools and expertise to respond to the waves of disruption. If you focus on the long term and decide the best path to the long-term goal a strong partner will help you stay focused and find and decide strategy revisions as appropriate. Your RPA tool, coupled with the continuous improvement process supply the means to sense and respond to the disruption in a way that enables your strategic goals as well.
Digital enablement is the ultimate result of the efforts and RPA provides the technology/tool to quickly develop and test the prototypes that first confirm the response (while supporting the market demands) and second, supply the bridge to the end solution. Process automation made possible by a robust RPA tool provides a significant tool supporting the digital enablement strategic goal. The RPA tool does supply business value along the way to digital enablement and this is the best reason to get started.
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Tom Brouillette discusses supply chain trends and provides strategic business & technology advice to his followers and companies.