This article is written by our key partner Basico P/S. The article represents their methods on how to implement Foxtrot RPA and robotics governance properly.
Many Danish companies have started a robotics initiative. The first companies implementing robotics are mostly characterized by being big IT-projects far from the business and without involving the employees in the business or the support functions. From the user’s point of view, robots were mostly encapsulated directly in the IT-systems, without the possibility of influencing the process.
Fortunately, most new initiatives are based on an "office-robot" approach aiming to automate trivial manual workflows that many highly educated employees spend too much time on. Implementing robotics, if succesful, will give more time and resources for more value creating activities that benefit the efficiency, flexibility, agility in your business and your employees' job satisfaction.
Several of Basico’s customers have initiated a robotics initiative using the RPA-tool Foxtrot, which enabled the project to be launched with a low cost based on the motto of: “Crawl, Walk, Run”. Essentially, you should start the project by automating small existing processes where you are in control of both the input and output. In other words, your chances of success are greater if you approach the initiative with a "step-by-step" mindset instead of reaching for the stars from the get-go.
Evolution of Robotics
The project typically starts locally. The simple setup will typically have the robot installed on an employee’s laptop and the employee will slowly start to automate his/her own tasks. It is the user's existing rights that control the access to the existing systems. The robot uses the user's AD-access to their desktop applications and other web applications.
Gradually, as the good results start to show, the customer will like to disseminate the initiative throughout the organization. During the initiation phase of the initiative, the original user(s) will gain more knowledge about the usage of robots and automate (several) processes. These original users will likely be appointed specialists or perhaps project managers to start building automations for the colleagues in the related departments. By now, the project will start moving up the Robotics Organizational Hierarchy listed in Figure 1.
As the initiative grows, so will the internal interest for the potential of implementing the technology in other areas of the business. It is a natural development that more employees start to be granted access to build automations with the office robots. Then there will be more people who are able to develop robots across the entire business unit, perhaps even on group level.
The more widespread the initiative is, the greater the incentive is to consider governance. As more employees can build robots, the company needs to have an overview of who is doing what, who has access to what, who uses the capacity/licenses, and when and where they run their automation. This is just an example of the regular questions that you need to consider
Basico Robotics Governance Framework
To address the need of clear governance, Basico has developed a "Robotics Governance Framework". Basico’s framework is based on their client's business and implementation needs. If the robots cannot support the business, the project loses its eligibility and the investment in the initiative will be a waste.
When it is decided how the business wants to use the robot, it must be determined on what organizational level the project should be operated and anchored. In a robotics project, there are deviations between how user accounts and security must be set up depending on whether it is one person who automates their own tasks or if it is driven by a Center of Excellence that automates across the business units - or perhaps even across the group.
Once Basico's consultants have established the client's business needs and the organizational setup, the consultants can start implementing the framework.
Based on the established organizational ownership of the robotics initiative, Basico's seven-dimensional model is used to analyze which governance model best fits the respective company. Basico offers a workshop with the company’s relevant stakeholders where Basico will review a wide range of issues, all of which are of great relevance to how the company can accelerate, disseminate, and manage its projects in the best possible way. If you are placed higher than the individual level in the framework hierarchy, it is important that the company’s IT-resources are involved as they have unique, relevant knowledge on the IT-strategy, infrastructure, and general policies. As you move up in the framework hierarchy, the IT complexity increases.
Not only can the company make decisions concerning the current setup but also ensure that the company has a governance structure that can be adjusted, which is necessary to make sure that the company develops the initiative with robots and realizes its roadmap concurrently with the overall plans.
After the conclusion of the workshop, decisions and relevant issues are documented in a governance report. The governance report forms the groundwork of the corporate-specific robotics governance structure actions and initiatives to be implemented.
Basico recommends that as soon as you make the decision to disseminate office robots beyond the individual user’s own processes, you should begin to consider to the underlying governance structure. It is better to do it too early than to do it too late.