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PA OPINION

The Robotic Process Automation Journey – Scale Fast

This is the third blog of three and focusses on how NHS Trusts should approach the next stage in their automation journey after ‘thinking big’ and ‘starting small’.

Once your organisation has made the leap from zero to one automated process, it’s time to use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to gain greater benefits, improve timescales, generate ROI and satisfy the goals outlined in your ‘think big’ phase.

There are five key steps for leaders to consider in order to ‘scale fast’:

  1. Share lessons and redefine process – the journey to automating your organisation’s first task will inevitably have shone a light on the most challenging aspects of automation. This may have included process maturity, IT or Information Governance (IG) issues, governance and stakeholder engagement or sign-off committee processes. The internal methodology for automating tasks should be redefined to include any fresh learnings. This will benefit future automations and streamline the experience going forwards. We would also recommend sharing lessons learned with key committees on a quarterly basis for the first two years.
  2. Stay small and apply automation to a range of systems – there will be a temptation to jump to a complex process to secure significant benefits quickly. We recommend that a number of low complexity processes are automated in the short-term. This allows your Trust to increase confidence in automation using various key systems, creating the foundations to successfully automate more complex processes.
  3. Increase the scale and breadth of ambition – once your organisation has automated a number of low complexity tasks on a range of Trust systems, it’s time to increase the automation ambition. This means moving from the low complexity end of the spectrum to processes considered to be medium and high complexity. Prioritising processes such as the more complicated tasks in corporate services, as well as clinical services, will be essential to generate significant time saving benefits and an acceptable ROI. However, this shouldn’t detract from maintaining a consistent, objective approach to prioritising potential processes.
  4. Review the ‘think big’ goals – as you increase the number of successful automations, we strongly recommend you revisit your ‘think big’ goals. Is your organisation achieving the objectives set out to justify the investment, or do the goals need to be revisited and updated? Underpinning this will be the ability to demonstrate the benefits delivered to date.
  5. Communicate effectively – above all, uncomplicated communication is essential for organisations embracing automation. Stakeholders should feel well briefed and educated as the Trust scales through its automation programme. The pipeline should continuously grow, and timely communication that creates inspiration for wider audiences to participate and contribute to ideation is absolutely essential.

We hope you’ve benefited from our series on RPA in the NHS. As always, we welcome your thoughts including what you’d like to hear more about going forward.

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