How do companies scale their RPA environment?

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Robotic process automation (RPA)—the use of software "robots" to automate manual, rules-based processes—offers a variety of advantages, including higher productivity and lower costs. With potential ROI between 30 and 200 percent in the first year alone, it's no surprise that companies would be interested in scaling their RPA environment.

Yet deploying RPA across the enterprise may be easier said than done. According to a 2017 Deloitte survey, only 3 percent of organizations have successfully scaled their RPA environment to have more than 50 robots. In order to move from a successful pilot project to an enterprise-wide RPA deployment, follow the advice below.

1. Have the right vision

Just as finding the right pilot project was essential in the first stages, you need to understand where RPA will have the most impact across your organization.

A successful RPA implementation will require a full-scale commitment. Robots aren't something that you can simply "set and forget"; they require tuning, testing, and managing like your other employees. For many companies, RPA will require significant changes to processes and mindset.

2. Enlist the right people

Two parts of the organization will be essential to RPA success: the C-suite and the IT department. Armed with the right facts and figures, convincing executives of the value of RPA should be fairly straightforward.

IT may show more resistance to the idea of RPA, since it may disrupt existing processes, workflows, and technology. Nevertheless, bringing them on board will be crucial to ensure the security, availability, and reliability of your RPA solution. For example, three-fourths of firms using RPA said that they had experienced challenges integrating it with their existing software systems.

3. Don't neglect the human

Getting your people and technology on the same page is essential when using RPA. Training and education programs need to be effective, and roles and processes will need to be revised.

Understandably, many employees feel anxious about a large-scale RPA deployment. However, the tasks that RPA software takes on tend to be mundane and repetitive. While much of your human employees' work will be coopted by your new RPA agents, it's important not to let these hands sit idle.

By freeing up your staff from these trivial and tedious actions, you can let them focus on higher-level activities that can't be done by RPA: creativity, innovation, and decision-making.