The Process Automation Roadmap

‘A Strategic Guide For
The Business User’

Learn how to build a custom roadmap for intelligent process automation in this all-new step-by-step guide.

Download the Free Guide

In this guide, you will discover


Step 1

Build the Plan

 


Step 2

Create A Governance Structure


Step 3

Develop Process Automations


Step 4

Deploy Process Automations


Step 5

Test, Manage and Monitor


Step 6

Scale Automations

A Strategic Guide For The Business User

As business leaders around the globe make strategic plans for a post-pandemic world, they are looking to technology to gain any advantages they can. After all, organizational health is just as important as other metrics for success. Technologies that offer gains in efficiency and cost-savings will be among the most lucrative. This likely means that the popularity of process automation technology like robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent process automation (IPA), also known as intelligent automation or simply IA will only continue to grow.

This paper will discuss how to build a roadmap for implementation of process automation, providing an overarching guide that will help you carve your own pathway for the journey ahead.

Although we have organized this roadmap into steps for ease of reading and understanding, we encourage you to try not approach this stage of preparation as a to-do list. Rather, think of it as a foundational exercise in business strategy, deserving of thoughtful planning, time and resources.

.

Step 1: Build the Plan

It’s true what they say: The first step of the journey is always the hardest. And in this case, it’s also the most important. While it is an intensive first step, it pays to be organized and to have a plan for what’s to come.

Here are some key considerations for getting your plan organized.

Start With Education

Before you can deploy an action plan focused on results and returns, you have to first understand the subject matter. So before you pen to paper, take some time to focus on education. The scale of this effort will vary from one organization to the next, but the idea is to get familiar with the technologies you are considering. Understand their capabilities, technicalities and limitations. Know the difference between RPA and AI, and how they can be dynamically leveraged for process automation.

If appropriate, task team leaders with sharing this education with the broader organization. This might be as informal as a company lunch-and-learn, or as comprehensive as a weeks-long continuing-education course.

In some cases, it may be better to educate a few key team members now as an original cohort, and save the broader education initiatives for later in your rollout. Discuss this topic in-depth with company leaders before moving on.

Identify Stakeholders

Next, identify key stakeholders and begin to build your team, keeping in mind this team may evolve over time. Ideally, your implementation team will include people from different backgrounds and perspectives within the company, who can together create the best dynamics for a company-wide technology rollout.

These might include:

  • C-suite executives to champion the cause
  • Departmental subject matter experts (from accounting or customer service teams, for example) who can identify process-specific challenges and solutions
  • Project managers to oversee logistics and coordination between departments
  • IT staff to provide technical perspective

Build a Comprehensive Business Case

Building a business case will help ensure your technology investments produce returns. Think critically about the implementation, considering potential pitfalls and challenges you may encounter. Focus on value in addition to tangible costs and benefits, considering the broader impact of technology to your company. Be realistic and avoid the temptation to oversell the idea.

Learn more about building an effective business case and ROI calculation here.

Align the Vision and Goals

This is where you can start to put it all on the table. Align the vision among the key stakeholders first, then disseminate to the rest of the company. Crowdsource ideas when appropriate and keep the workforce as informed as much as practical. This, again, will vary between organizations, depending on size, goals and other individual factors.

When necessary, this step should also include considerations for upskilling and retraining any parts of the workforce that may need it. These communications should be treated with care, making the initiatives and the motivations behind them as clear as possible to everyone.

Before finalizing your alignment, be sure that your process automation goals also align with broader company goals. If they do not, make changes to your plan where necessary before moving on.

Gather And Create Documentation

Poor or missing documentation is a primary pitfall for RPA and other automation implementations. Process automation lives and breathes in the workflow process. If the process itself is inaccurate from the start, at best, your process automation efforts will fail to produce desired benefits. And at worst, it could create bigger problems to your workflow than you started with.

Instead of relying on human memory or incomplete documentation, use process mining to accurately outline the process as it exists. Then, use this data to identify opportunities for improvement and any impediments to progress.

Identify Initial Opportunities

Leveraging Process Intelligence, the next part of your plan should identify the best opportunities for process automation. As you identify these key areas of focus, it’s critical to consider how the process automation bots will work dynamically within the workforce.

In technology, this approach to design is called human-in-the-loop (HITL). It recognizes that RPA and IA technologies, while automated, are not autonomous. There are still aspects of any given business process that may require human interaction with the technology. Whether it’s a failsafe or an intentional handoff, it’s important that these scenarios are designed thoughtfully. Keep your human workforce top of mind, designing scenarios where technology is a clear benefit to their experience.

Design a Strategy to Orchestrate All The Moving Parts

In our experience, this orchestration aspect of implementation is often underestimated, yet it is an extremely critical piece of the puzzle. Monitoring of your automations and their integrations within your architecture will be very important to the execution of your process automation goals in general. Too often we see limitations in this area, with multiple RPA initiatives running, but limited integration and oversight. This lack of a consolidated management view complicates implementation, and limits the potential of returns.

When looking for a provider, this is a key consideration. With the EPSoft Intelligent Automation Platform, for example, you gain control management, allowing you to easily manage everything from one convenient dashboard—single-pane view of your process automation, creation and executions, all regardless of vendor. This kind of comprehensive management can help set you up for both short-term wins and long-term success.

PRO-TIP: Don’t worry if this seems like a lot. There are a lot of things to think about, but the right platform partner will make this part simpler, not harder.

.

Step 2: Create A Design Governance Structure

A well-built governance structure is a critical component to transformational technology. Simply put, without governance, you cannot scale technology. In addition to scalability, a healthy governance strategy will provide an ongoing framework for risk management and a basis from which everyone can work.

If knowledge is left in the hands of individuals, errors within individual bots could be unwittingly duplicated, turning small problems into systemic ones. Governance provides control over situations like these and others. This is especially important to consider for no-code and low-code RPA and IA tools, where multiple teams may be leveraging the technology.

Governance also provides clear guidance for which tools are available and how they should be used. This should extend not just to the implementation of a particular automation, but also to the ongoing testing and maintenance that will be required.

While your governance framework will be unique to your organization and its specific risks and goals, there are a few key elements that should be included.

Communications

How will teams communicate amongst themselves? What about cross-departmental comms? Organize this in a way that keeps communication lines open and productive.

Security

Security architecture should be designed for your company’s specific risk profile(s), with particular consideration for the cloud environment, data privacy and resilience.

Key Performance Indicators & Other Goals

Like your teams, your KPIs may evolve over time, and that’s okay. It’s still vitally important to establish them as part of your governance model.

Strike Teams

These internal stakeholders are champions for the cause, working to formalize the pipeline process and provide guidance and authority for what gets automated.

Acquire Licenses

Secure any necessary licenses for your users, which now may also include your digital workforce. Every program may have its own specific requirements, so be sure to know what you’re dealing with before you move on from this step.

PRO-TIP: Don’t worry if this seems like a lot. There are a lot of things to think about, but the right platform partner will make this part simpler, not harder.

.

Step 3: Develop Your Process Automations

This is the stage of the journey where you put all the planning into action. With the initial opportunities identified through Process Intelligence, you open your process automation platform and begin to create the robots (bots) that will automate your given tasks.

Some of these may involve coding, but with tools built for business, like the EPSoft Intelligent Automation Platform, this step is simple with the use of a drag-and-drop interface. Either way, once developed, the bot is ready for testing.

Remember to design your experience with orchestration in mind, building in failsafes and other intentional interactions between your automations and your human workforce.

Once created, it must be tested. User acceptance tests (UAT) are executed either by a testing team, as is the case in larger organizations, or by the team developing the bot. Testing takes place in a pre-production environment to test the actual execution of the task. If it passes, your automation is ready for deployment. Congrats! If it fails, it goes back to development to correct the errors.

.

Step 4: Deploy Your Process Automations

Here, your automation goes live! It is deployed and now usable in the business environment. But remember, this isn’t the end game. It’s the beginning of a new chapter. Like a task itself, automation deployment isn’t static. It’s a process. It will require maintenance and an ongoing focus on optimization.

Another key consideration for this stage, is to think critically about how many automations you will deploy at a time. Research consistently shows that the most successful implementations of RPA and IA feature modest initial rollouts that are then scaled into bigger operations down the road.

This is another reason orchestration is such a core component of process automation, and why selecting the right platform can make all the difference. When you can easily build, integrate, deploy, monitor and adjust as you need to within a single-pane view, you gain so many more opportunities to scale the technology to its full potential.

PRO-TIP: It’s okay to start small! Businesses that start with modest rollouts and then scale later often see the best success.

.

Step 5: Test, Manage and Monitor

With automation initiatives running, it’s now time to track your wins, identify threats and challenges, and adapt your strategy as needed. This will be an ongoing part of the process, and while it sounds superfluous, it can, in fact, be a primary driver for success in process automation.

This hyperfocus on efficiency, paired with an overarching governance structure, together allows for improvement at the enterprise level by solving problems at the task level. It breeds productivity and creates an empowered workforce wherein everyone is marching to the beat of the same drum.

.

Step 6: Scale

While there are many individual factors that might inhibit or alter a company’s ability to scale process automation technology, chances are you can usually trace them back to the nuances found within one of these five steps of the roadmap.

Scaling comes down to proper execution of each of these stages of the implementation, giving each one the weight and consideration it deserves.

  • Your initial plan will keep your teams organized, ensuring goals are aligned and top of mind.
  • Governance will ensure even the seemingly smallest automations are able to be scaled and maintained now and into the future.
  • Thoughtful bot design will consider the relationship between your digital and human workforce in a way that clears the way for bigger and deeper automations.
  • And deployment with ongoing testing, monitoring and maintenance ensures that when (not if) problems arise, they are quickly addressed

It’s trite but true: Proper planning is the key to success. This kind of comprehensive roadmap to implementation can be an undertaking — but we’re of the opinion it should be. Process automation shouldn’t be approached with cavalier attitudes, but with thoughtful consideration for the road ahead, as well as those not yet paved.

About the EPSoft Intelligent Automation Platform

Built for business users with features that support both front office and back office business operations, the EPSoft Intelligent Automation Platform is a single, easy-to-use software suite with end-to-end business process automation tools.

With powerful tools for Process Intelligence, RPA and IPA, and a design focused on the orchestration of it all, the natively developed platform drives critical insights for better decision making and absolute visibility into all aspects of business—ultimately delivering optimal performance and productivity.

To learn more about what kind of outcomes the EPSoft IAP can deliver for your business, schedule a free demo.

Ready to take intelligent automation
enterprise wide?

Why don’t we start talking about which processes to automate before
graduating to intelligent automation?

Get Started

Scroll to Top