For businesses ready to turn up the volume on their RPA implementations, a Center of Excellence (CoE) is a major step towards company-wide scalability. No two CoEs are the same, but the average RPA CoE consists of a dedicated person or team and framework to help manage the RPA (robotic process automation) ecosystem as it is rolled out across the organization.
When done properly, an RPA CoE provides standardization on the framework for deployment, speeding up RPA project implementation and scaling up these initiatives. A CoE also helps the company’s business units define the requirements for a successful RPA business case and optimize the resources required to implement and operationalize the project. A CoE enables all the technical and operational groups within an enterprise to quickly align on the initiative and openly strategize, collaborate and sort through any roadblocks or challenges along the way.
Characteristics for a Successful CoE
A successful CoE is one that effectively embeds and delivers automation into the heart of an organization. To do that, the CoE must have strong leadership to advocate and develop close relationships with business units. The person who leads a CoE understands and empathizes with every department in the organization. The leaders of a CoE are process-driven and create a culture of continuous improvement. Those that lead the CoE draw on collective knowledge throughout the business to adapt its operations and automation offerings, so they are relevant for each individual stakeholder.
Every organization has a different set of circumstances, so you should structure your CoE to work for the organization. For example, some businesses may prefer to have a centralized CoE, while others may prefer regional ones. Some may choose to employ a citizen developer model for delivering automations rather than having it all done by a central team. In most cases, a CoE starts out small and then branches out. Regardless of the model, a CoE requires a wider vision and alignment with the organization’s operational and financial goals.
Striking a Balance
Future growth of the CoE depends on its success, and its success depends on delivering value. Kryon has shown that the average RPA investment can deliver a 352% ROI within three years, but a CoE leader must make that real for stakeholders. On the technical side, developers need large volumes of good quality test data. On the non-technical side, CoE leaders need time and cooperation from business units.
For those just starting out, estimating the value of an RPA implementation can be tricky. However, an experienced business analyst will pinpoint which processes can potentially cause difficulties in automating. The value calculation should also account for downstream or secondary benefits. For example, does automating a specific process save FTE (full-time equivalent), or does it increase employee health and safety, reduce paper waste, or something else?
Once the value of the automaton is estimated, business unit managers can work with the CoE to prioritize which processes are first in line for bots.
Defining Roles and Responsibilities
As a CoE matures, roles and responsibilities become more distinct, and new roles may emerge. For example, the leadership team of a CoE is likely to include a sponsor, a C-suite individual who underwrites the activities of the CoE, and a champion, whose role is to set and lead the CoE’s strategic direction. On the delivery side, the key roles include business analysts who work with business units to identify, analyze and prioritize processes for automation and RPA architects and developers who design and implement automation solutions.
As a CoE grows and scales, other typical roles include finance managers, controllers, infrastructure engineers, people who lead research, procurement, recruitment of RPA developers, training, and more.
A Remote CoE: Is it Possible?
In our new work-from-home environment caused by the global pandemic, a CoE doesn’t operate all that differently. Some activities are indeed more challenging, especially those that benefit from face-to-face contact. But these can be done remotely, as well. In particular, delivery teams need regular, easy access to process subject matter experts to clarify process logic and resolve issues. Support agents may find they have additional work due to the wider variety of computer configurations that remote workers are using. Other non-technical activities should adapt reasonably well to our new way of working, including training and daily stand-up meetings. These activities are done over video conferencing rather than in person.
If your organization is considering establishing an RPA CoE this year, get in touch with a Kryon expert today. Don’t go it alone! We have helped hundreds of customers create their RPA CoEs with great success.