Viji Varghese

How to find the "Happy Path" for intelligent automation

Viji Varghese
Contributor: Viji Varghese
Posted: 09/06/2017

As the initial ‘euphoria dust’ around RPA settles, a lot of companies and individuals have started to appreciate the nuances around robotic process automation. Many myths have been busted and new realities have come forth. The journey so far has been an exiting roller coaster for most companies.

In my association with many organisations, I have realised that there are many options to getting the RPA recipe right; it all depends on the culture and objective of the organisations that tread this path.

Witnessing these journeys has been a great opportunity for me to understand the right ingredients of a successful RPA program – both in part and whole. I have shared these learnings across numerous forums around the world. However, these time-bound forums limit what you can share. At an event in Manchester, in May 2017, one of the delegates suggested that we pen everything I have learned about running RPA programs. Initially I shrugged it off, but in hindsight realised that there was merit in the idea.

Writing a book was one option, but it lacked the ability to interact with the audience. I want to know if the audience is getting what it needs so that I can dig deeper or broader as required. After some discussions with SSON’s editor, we agreed that a 12-part series would provide the right channel for sharing thoughts on this exciting new opportunity.

So, here is the outline of what I intend to share.

I want to start with the various kinds of sparks that provoke companies to embark on an RPA journey; followed by some basics around what these companies understand the term RPA to mean. 

What I wanted to understand was what challenges companies were trying to address. For example, the challenges of a diamond manufacturer, a beer manufacturer, an insurance company, a German machinery manufacturer and a bank are all so unique that I thought I would end up with a huge list of things that they expect to address and solve through RPA. However, working with these enterprises was a revelation for me, as the core issues remained the same.

So, I will share the traditional approach used to address common challenges, and new opportunities RPA is presenting.

Remember I said the recipe for getting RPA right changes, depending on the culture of the organisation? I have discovered that there are a couple of components in that culture that are essential to getting it right. Culture defines the journey of any RPA program. The journey in turn defines whether a company gets stuck in the Start phase or gets to the Scale it desires; or even whether it transforms the way RPA is done.

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A lot of the people I talk to are stuck at Proof of Concepts or controls that they want to put in, but I emphasise the essential components of the governance model that are needed.

It’s key to agree on a minimal viable bureaucracy and governance that’s required to support the program at various stages. The issue of ownership of the program is probably most debated, so what that taught me is that the model that’s required is one of accountability rather than ownership.

Another area that many companies spend too much energy on is Product and Partner – as opposed to what they intend to achieve at the end. 

Above, I have tried to draw an outline of what I want to share in this 12-part series. Let me know what you think and we will set the right course.

Viji Varghese
Contributor: Viji Varghese
Posted: 09/06/2017

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