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PA OPINION

The Robotic Process Automation Journey - Start Small

This is the second blog of three and focusses on how NHS Trusts should approach the second stage in their automation journey after setting a “Think Big” vision. Read our view on getting started here.

Once you’ve set out a compelling vision for RPA by ‘thinking big’ – as outlined in our first blog in this series of three – it’s time to bring your vision to life. To do so we recommend you ‘start small’, trying before you buy through a proof of concept (PoC) and focussing on moving from zero to one live automated process as quickly and easily as possible.

Once your organisation is primed to start its RPA journey, there are four key steps to move towards launching your first live automated process.

  1. Start simple – Resist the temptation to tackle your most complex process first. Attempting to conquer large, unwieldy processes often leads to delays, frustrations and failure. Choosing a smaller, lower complexity task allows you to use the challenges you face to iterate and evolve future automations. And you’ll be able to understand and define which committees and stakeholders are responsible for sign-off and need to be actively engaged.
  2. Agree metrics and gather an appropriate baseline – Outline your benefits vision in advance of the automation and include the key metrics to be improved (such as cost, time and quality). This should align with the agreed overall vision. Owners of processes selected for automation should provide an accurate baseline of existing performance against key metrics to support evaluations of the benefits delivered – or predicted to.
  3. Share success and lessons learned – Once the process has been developed, tested and put into production, success should be celebrated to inspire others. This is best done by demonstrating the output – and the positive impact on key metrics – to appropriate stakeholders. The business process owner and RPA champion – whose role is discussed in our first blog – should lead on sharing these outputs, as well as openly discussing key learnings.
  4. Ideate in parallel – While the focus is on getting the RPA ball rolling, your organisation should already be looking to build a parallel pipeline of RPA process ideas. Agreed RPA governance should guide the most appropriate route for these ideas to be assessed (such as business value and ease of automation) and prioritised so the next-in-line process is ready to be automated immediately after the last success.

Once the ‘’start small’ phase is complete, the next phase of the RPA journey is to scale to an organisation-wide programme of change and maximise the benefits from automation. This is explained in the next blog, ‘scale fast’, which will be published next month.

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