Getting started with RPA can be a challenge, especially if there is very little internal automation capability within your business. Which is why many companies turn to third party partners to help them with their journey. For some this can just be in the initial stages, to help them get a handle on the installation and pilot processes, whilst others go for a longer-term relationship that helps them scale and ensure that all the benefits are delivered successfully.
But, even with a partner in place, things can still go wrong. Occasionally this can be solely down to the partner, but more often than not it is a combination of the partner and the client, and particularly where there is a mismatch in expectations. One of the things that every automation provider, including Roboyo, looks for in the perfect relationship is an ‘informed client’. An informed client will work in harmony with the service provider, understanding their own needs as well as their partners. An informed client will not waste valuable time and effort on unproductive tasks – their focus will be on the activities that will deliver success, and these will be fully aligned with the partner. An informed client, coupled with a capable partner, will ensure a stress-free project that will deliver on all of its promises.
So, what does it mean to be an ‘informed client’ and how can it help you with the success of your automation project? Here’s what we think it means…
Understand your automation ambitions – this is a crucial first step, and one that needs to be agreed internally before an automation partner is even thought about. What do you want to get out of automation? Is it just to improve a few processes here and there, or do you want automation to become an essential way that your business operates. Or is it somewhere between these two extremes? This decision will guide your first steps as well as the type of partner you look for. Most importantly, it will determine the type of relationship you need to have with that partner.
Know what you want from a partner – continuing on from the last point, your automation ambition will determine the type of partner you need. And not all partners are the same (far from it). Ignoring those that are simply incapable, the best partners all will have different methodologies, approaches, cultures and software relationships. Some will want to come in and take over, whilst others will be content to hold your hand at the appropriate stages. Some can provide a wide range of services, including reselling software licenses and providing transformation capabilities, whilst others will have a strong focus just on RPA implementation.
Understand the capabilities and limitations of the software – as well as understanding your partner, it is important to understand your software as well. If you have selected it yourself, make sure that you understand its limitations and haven’t just believed what the vendor has told you. If you think you will need some cognitive capability to support your RPA automation, for example, then ensure that your software can provide that, or look to other vendors to complement it. Most importantly, seek advice from your partner or other independent sources.
Don’t believe everything you are told – the above advice is also true for your implementation partner. There are many providers and consultancies that are rebadging themselves as RPA experts in order to jump on the automation bandwagon. Many of these have very little, or no, previous RPA experience and will be learning on your dollar. Question them hard, ask around and get references.
Manage your expectations – RPA can deliver so much, but it is also not a silver bullet to cure all of your problems. Some commentators have hyped the market up to an unnecessary level, which has only served to set the expectations of RPA way too high. If you go into a project with these unrealistic goals then you are bound to be disappointed, but, more importantly, the benefits that RPA could actually deliver will be lost in the mess. Your RPA partner will be able to help you manage these expectations, but do read up on real use cases and customer experiences as much as possible before hand, ideally talking to those who have been through it before. This is the simplest thing to do, but will have the biggest impact on the success of your project.
Let the RPA partner do their job – this is a common occurrence, where the client, for example, insists on selecting the ‘ideal’ process for a pilot, only for it to fail because it is too complex, too simple, or doesn’t get the necessary buy-in from the end-users. Your RPA partner has done this many times before and knows instinctively what will work and what will fail – let them help you make those all-important early decisions.
Keep all stakeholders in the loop – nobody knows your business better than you do, particularly its culture and personalities. This is where you, as the client, can best support your RPA partner – they know how to implement RPA in a generic company, whilst you know how to get stuff done in your company. Combining these two should give you the best chance of success, so make sure you keep all stakeholders informed and in the loop, and manage those expectations carefully. One area in particular where this will be crucial will be in the IT department – they have to be involved from day one, otherwise your super-fast RPA project will become a painful, long and drawn-out affair. Again, your RPA partner can tell you all about best practice, but only you will have the power to get things done, so use that power well.
Being an informed client doesn’t mean that the RPA partner sits back and relies on you to do all the work. The key is in that word ‘partner’, which works both ways, with each party bringing their own skills and capabilities to the project. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner how best you can help them – after all, it will ultimately be in your best interests.