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Exploiting RPA to Cultivate Operational Innovation
Abid Mustafa
Director of Strategy and Customer Experience

Professional Background: Abid Mustafa is a seasoned ICT professional with over 24 years’ experience in Digital Transformation, IT, Operations, Project Management, Strategy, and Customer Experience, with special expertise in RPA, robotics and AI. He is well versed in different aspects of the telecommunication industry and has worked for a number of operators in Europe and the MENA region. Mustafa is also the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to make Executive PMOs Successful (ISBN: 1482740621), which is available both in paperback and Kindle format.

Education: BSc, Electronic Engineering, King’s College, London University

This is the fourth in a series of five articles on adopting RPA in the enterprise.

As with any new technology, it takes time for the business benefits of RPA to accrue. But compared to other technologies, RPA’s benefits can be realized relatively quickly. The ease of designing robots and the avoidance of having to making deep system changes through integration has made deployment much faster. Still, most organizations seem to struggle with the time it takes to identify use cases and translate them into deployable software robots.

One major reason for this: most organizations fail to make the necessary structural changes to support rapid RPA deployment. They continue to work in archaic silo structures, which are anathema to the agility required to support faster RPA deployments. Figure 1.0 depicts RPA is implemented in an environment in which entrenched silos handle different activities.


Figure 1 Silo approach to RPA implementation

Typically, RPA activities are undertaken sequentially; this prevents communication and collaboration between different stakeholders, keeping them from playing an effective role in accelerating RPA deployment. Business users define the RPA requirements, priorities use cases and underwrite business cases. IT on the other hand, assesses the technical suitability of use cases, and designs and deploys robots. Meaningful collaboration takes place at two points: understanding the RPA requirements and user acceptance testing.

This waterfall approach to RPA implementation results in constant misunderstandings and gaps between business expectations and what IT delivers, leading to lengthy delays and snubs to RPA adoption. To overcome this perpetual source of frustration amongst various teams, organizations must adopt a more flexible approach to accelerating RPA implementations. Dual mode operation, dev-ops, and the dynamic systems development method are some of the techniques that can offer organizations greater agility in rapidly expanding RPA implementation.

At the core of these methodologies lies an organizational structure that substitutes silos with permanent channels of communication and collaboration. Figure 2.0 shows how this model works and its impact on accelerating RPA implementation.

 Figure 2 RPA requires agility and this requires removing silos and reconstructing activities that are shared between all the teams

This new way of working ensures that at every activity of the RPA life cycle, communication and collaboration happens continuously between all the stakeholders.  There is a compression of work space (all team members sit in the same office space) and time (there is no need to wait for responses from teams driven by internal OLAs). This ensures that use cases are rapidly identified and assessed for technical feasibility, errors are minimized during implementation, bugs detected in testing are resolved quickly, and all parties collaborate to make deployment issues non-existent.  As all team members are available to resolve problems at each stage of the RPA life cycle, productivity is bound to increase,

If organizations commit to making small structural changes to support the implementation of RPA, they will not be disappointed by the results. Many companies have employed such techniques and have succeeded in rapidly translating potential use cases into viable robots that yield instantaneous business benefits. Apart from the business benefits, RPA adoption is given a powerful jolt because organizational inertia and politics of bureaucracy is kept to a minimum.

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