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ITL Recap: Robotic Process Automation 

A huge thank you to Frederic Pontaut; Director, Corporate Systems at Best Buy, Nicole Wagner, Sr. IT Product Capability Manager Finance & Tax at Best Buy, and Keith Meles, Director, Principal IT Business Architect at Best Buy for sharing their learnings on the topic: Robotic Process Automation: 5 Things We Wish We Had Known Before Starting Our RPA Journey. Also, thank you to Best Buy for hosting.   

What is Robotics Process Automation? RPA is the use of software to handle rule-based, repeatable tasks currently performed by humans. Implementing RPA allows you to free your employees to do higher-value work. Some benefits of RPA include:   

  • Faster process speed   
  • Reduce data entry errors   
  • Improved regulatory reporting and compliance   
  • Rapid continuous improvement   

In summary, Best Buy started their automation journey by building financial and pricing processes with Blue Prism. They completed a ‘hands-on’ process automation and BOT building with the business to evaluate stability. Then setting up the framework they on-boarded five robots and designed, built, and developed four complex processes to automate chargebacks. There were numerous amounts of testing, learning, and training for Business and IT including process development, maintenance, and management.   

Next, they identified and built additional processes in Finance, refined and implemented initial centralized governance structure, enhanced the existing process and Blue Prism framework, and created a roadmap to extend across the enterprise.   

Through Best Buy’s journey, there were five significant things that they wish they had known before starting their RPA journey. Here are the five lessons they shared with us:  

Lesson Number 1: Do Your Homework  

  • Make sure to build a conceptual understanding of RPA and where it fits in the automation continuum.   
  • Review RPA materials available from both a business and technical perspective in the industry   
  • Attend conferences   
  • Reach out to others who have already started the journey   
  • Utilize your network   

Lesson Number 2: Decision   

  • Choose your tools, your implementation strategy, and your development structure/model  

Lesson Number 3: RPA Does Not Defy Gravity  

Make sure to identify the potential issues up front and build in a strategy to manage  

  • Organization’s inefficiencies and technical debt  
  • Environment complexity and interdependences   
  • Support and monitoring is required and will need changes   
  • RPA does not bypass IT entirely   
  • One tool does not fit all   

Lesson Number 4: Plan with End in Mind   

  • Define a process evaluation framework   
  • Create training and mentoring opportunities to develop a needed skill set   
  • Challenge the traditional IT   
  • Define and track success metrics   
  • Determine the charge out model   

Lesson Number 5: RPA Misconceptions   

  • “RPA is Simple to Build”
  • “Build them and then forget about them” – its digital workforce, not code
  • “Automated processes will match manual processes exactly” – the business result should align, but automated processes may be more efficient and effective if design to leverage automation capabilities
  • “Only IT Developers are appropriate to do the building,” OR “RPA tools can be 100% maintained by the business – need to find a happy medium

While Robotics Process Automation may seem like the answer, it may not be the right solution. There are a few initial considerations to evaluate including; process complexity, time to execute, and application performance and stability. RPA is not the right solution when the task has a high-value return, is highly repetitive, or costly traditional IT solution.  If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, check out the slides here.