RPA can deliver incredible benefits, from productivity and security gains to cost and error reduction. But the more bots you implement, the more time, money, and effort you spend. That’s why the RPA center of excellence (CoE) is one of the hottest trends in RPA today. Creating an RPA CoE provides the expertise and accountability you need to avoid common RPA mistakes like inefficient bot deployment and wasted time and money.

But looking at your already busy staff, you might wonder: Is an RPA center of excellence necessary?

The answer is yes – if you want to make the most out of your investment. It takes a diverse set of skills and experiences to make an RPA implementation successful now and in the future. Your RPA CoE will serve you in numerous ways, including:

Why You Need an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)

  • Design and maintain streamlined, versatile bots. There’s huge value in uniting employees from different departments in your CoE. They can collaborate, using their unique perspectives, to design and implement bots that work across multiple areas in your organization. As a result, you save time and money.
  • Scale your RPA solution. If you make RPA a centralized effort for your entire organization from the start, you’ll save yourself stress later. Organizations that fail to do so often find that multiple departments may implement different RPA products to solve their problems. Far too often, this means scalability is very difficult if not impossible. Creating an RPA CoE helps you take a centralized approach to ensure that your entire organization uses the same RPA solution, integrations, and plugins. This way, scalable bot development is easily attainable.
  • Keep a close eye on performance and constantly make improvements. Assigning a team responsible for monitoring your implementation’s performance ensures the job gets done. And just like in the planning and implementation phases, having multiple diverse perspectives is incredibly helpful as you continually improve and expand your RPA efforts.

To help you get started, here are 5 steps on how to build an RPA CoE to support a successful enterprise-wide RPA program.

5 Steps to Create a Successful RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)

1. Assemble the Team and Assign Roles and Responsibilities

To build a strong RPA CoE, you’ll need to identify employees to fill these key roles:

  • Executive Sponsor(s): A senior executive who helps build excitement about RPA and demonstrates why RPA must be a priority for your organization.
  • CoE Lead: This employee is responsible for the deployment and management of your RPA initiative, setting the budget and schedule of resources, and adjusting priorities and task assignments as needed.
  • Change Enabler: This metrics-driven employee ensures that all the moving parts run on time and don’t go over budget. Additionally, they focus on change management efforts to prepare your workforce for change. To support this, they also drive efforts to train and upskill employees to support the new technology.
  • Business Process Owners: These employees represent the various departments in your organization. They offer their vast knowledge of the end-to-end processes to map them out and make adjustments. This way, you can ensure that bots are implemented in the most efficient and effective areas in each department.
  • Developers: These highly trained employees direct the development and testing of your automation initiatives to ensure the integrity of the RPA bots.
  • IT Liaisons: IT Liaisons will communicate directly with IT to manage the necessary infrastructure and integrations with legacy systems. They will also be responsible for troubleshooting when issues arise involving RPA infrastructure or servers.
  • Champions: These RPA evangelists search across departments for RPA use cases, advocating for the technology among employees along the way. Their role may evolve to become citizen developers.
  • Architects: These technical employees take the RPA Champions’ ideas, consult with the business process owners directly, and then make the ideas happen.
  • Bot Wrangler: Once your bots are deployed, you’ll need an RPA bot wrangler to manage, adjust, and control all the bots to ensure continuous improvement and optimal efficiency.

While it’s important to assign these positions and responsibilities to specific people, know that these roles may change. As CoE members become more accustomed to their roles, they may be able and willing to take on extra responsibility. And as your RPA journey continues, expect to see the roles and responsibilities change to keep up with your evolving needs.

2. Build an Organization-Wide RPA Strategy

Your CoE must build an RPA strategy that accounts for your entire organization. When building your strategy, be sure to cover:

  • Your RPA goals and the results you expect.
  • The steps you plan to take from the start of planning to the end of the deployment.
  • The project budget, including bot licensing costs, infrastructure, change management efforts, and upskilling and training.
  • The impact you expect RPA to make on your customer experience.
  • Prioritize the RPA projects you plan to tackle and determine which one you will complete first.

Pro Tip: Don’t let your automation deployments be doomed from the start. Avoid implementing bots in silos, even if it means you could get a quick win. It’s important to consider the long-term implications of an RPA deployment.

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3. Create a Technical and Functional Environment

Now that you’ve established roles and assigned responsibilities, it’s time to focus on the tools that get the job done. Ensure that your RPA CoE has all the functional resources and tools necessary to cover:

  • Robotic configuration
  • Maintenance
  • Support
  • Performance
  • Connectivity

A strong partnership with your IT department is especially important during this step, but it’s wise to get IT involved with your RPA project as early as possible. With IT on your side from the beginning, you’ll dodge many issues, and you’ll have an easier time establishing an effective governance process.

4. Establish a Structured Governance Structure

The governance structure provides a framework for creating and applying your defined best practices to every step of your RPA implementation. Your structured governance model holds the templates and guidelines for the opportunity identification, planning, development, and implementation of your RPA bots. It also includes the performance and productivity metrics and the protocol for change management. Another key aspect of the governance structure is risk de-escalation and prevention operations. Setting an official plan for all these matters will ensure that decisions are as consistent and efficient as possible across your organization.

5. Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

Finally, be proactive regarding disaster recovery. Your entire organization is counting on your CoE alone to implement your solution, so to ensure smooth sailing:

  • Pay close attention to how you define roles and responsibilities across your CoE relating to disaster prevention and recovery. You want to ensure that all your bases are covered.
  • Build data backup plans both in the cloud and on-premises.
  • Map out potential risks and identify solutions.

Stronger as a Team

After you’ve completed steps 1-5, you’re ready to launch your CoE. This expert team of dedicated employees will manage the whole RPA lifecycle, from identifying profitable RPA opportunities to analyzing ways to optimize deployed bots.

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About Kara

As a Naviant Content Writer since 2019, Kara is passionate about helping organizations unleash the power of technology to solve their business challenges. In her weekly articles, Kara breaks down the latest research, trends, and tips in the digital transformation world, specializing in intelligent automation, the cloud, AP & HR automation, artificial intelligence, change management, and more. She is also a Copywriter for the American Marketing Association-Madison, where she contributes bimonthly articles that interview industry experts and highlight the latest marketing trends. When she’s not writing, Kara is working on her latest art project, scoping out new music, or out for a run.