Robotic process automation (RPA) has the power to transform businesses for the better – when it’s implemented and managed carefully and effectively.

It’s not a surprise that RPA can lead to major benefits. Technology has advanced to the point where software robots and artificial intelligence can capably handle tasks that are labor-intensive, prone to human error, involve security risks or are otherwise better suited for completion through automation. Effective resource allocation along with RPA can more efficiently position business resources, allowing both employees and RPA solutions to work in areas where their unique benefits and expertise have the most impact.

A Center of Excellence (CoE) is the foundation on which successful RPA integration is built. Keep reading to learn why a CoE is so important, and how to build one within your business.

What is an RPA CoE?

In short, a robotic process automation center of excellence is the guiding force for an RPA transformation project. It connects different areas of the company, strives to follow best practices, supports change efforts and takes a key leadership role in the RPA operating model.

For a more in-depth definition, let’s break down the RPA CoE into its two component parts:

  • RPA centers on the use of “robots,” meaning software and/or artificial intelligence as opposed to an automated machine existing in physical space. These robots can be trained to adhere to specific workflows and processes, allowing them to complete tasks in an efficient and consistent way. RPA deployment is specifically designed for professional work – the type completed in an office setting – and for any business unit that runs on repetitive, arduous functions, like accounting, communications and quality assurance.
  • A CoE consists of staff, and often consultants and other valuable stakeholders in a predominantly digital workforce, who lead, inform and drive business practices related to their specific area of emphasis. One key element of every CoE is the drive to coordinate and effectively manage projects and change efforts (like RPA adoption) within an organization.

Success with RPA is only achievable when the project is carefully considered, planned, implemented and managed going forward. A lack of a central, focused team such as a CoE can lead to higher costs as well as complicate efforts to realize an active and effective RPA program.

In-depth access to relevant data is critical for RPA success.

Why do you need an RPA CoE?

An RPA CoE is a crucial component of aligning general company mission and goals, as well as specific objectives tied to digital transformation, with an RPA project. Every new project started by a business, especially one with the potential to improve operations as drastically as RPA, requires close oversight to address and avoid obstacles, delays, uncertainty and cost overruns. Similarly, new initiatives must be carefully managed to ensure the choices made when selecting and implementing new solutions are as beneficial as possible to a company’s unique and important needs.

A CoE offers a centralized source of information, direction, training and support. By identifying the right staff members and officially including them within your CoE, your business makes a clear statement that RPA is a priority that requires the attention of experts. This step also empowers CoE stakeholders to provide advice and guidance as well as take action when necessary.

There are a variety of demonstrated benefits that stem from RPA. A Deloitte survey noted several advantages that come with effective implementation. The most common one was improved compliance, with 92% of respondents from businesses using RPA noting such an improvement. Improved quality and accuracy is another positive development – 90% of respondents realized this change. From a financial perspective, respondents reported payback within 12 months.

The growing value of RPA must be seen as a key motivating factor in assembling your CoE. Gartner highlighted advances in the application of RPA that have a major and positive effect on businesses, namely that RPA is increasingly focused on more complex, unique and exception-heavy workflows and processes. RPA doesn’t only apply to the simplest, time-consuming tasks traditionally handled by staff members. It has a growing range of effective uses that can increase its value to an organization. In this context, a CoE is vital for leading a project that leverages the full value of RPA across a business.

An RPA CoE is an effective solution for robotic process automation governance from an organizational perspective. The right RPA governance structure positions your company for success.

Who is part of an RPA CoE?

RPA CoE members must have the right combination of expertise, experience, knowledge and organizational role to effectively lead such an important change effort. Staff from senior leadership, IT, major business units and more may all be involved.

Centralization is the foundation of a strong CoE. The CoE must have the power to make especially important recommendations to business leaders and have those proposals received with the understanding that the CoE plays a critical role in RPA success. Involving one or more members of the executive team, along with relevant directors, vice presidents and department leaders can facilitate such an environment.

The IT team also needs to be included because of their technical expertise and the key role they will play in implementation and integration. RPA is often used to unify and stabilize the disparate tools and systems used across an organization, so their input is key.

Stakeholders from areas of the business where RPA will be used are also necessary. They have the detailed organizational and operational knowledge to highlight specific pain points and problem areas relevant to the benefits RPA provides. From there, the CoE can identify how an RPA solution can best be deployed to address those issues.

The support you need for successful RPA implementation and scaling

Expert assistance helps your CoE scale to take full advantage of the increasing value of RPA. Shibumi is proud to offer our RPA Accelerator, a single source of truth that allows you to track automation program data, manage your pipeline and delivery and support value-focused decisions through automated real-time reporting.

Learn more about our RPA Accelerator and request your free demo today.