Building People Awareness in organization
About guest: Priya Darshini is a Senior Technical Consultant @ Machina Automation & UiPath 2020 Most Valuable Professional From Houston, TX
People’s awareness is one of the most critical topics when it comes to RPA. It defines people’s involvement on all stages from pipeline forming up to hyper-care. Senior Technical Consultant at Machina Automation, Priya Darshini, shares her experience and knowledge about the topic.
Priya has been a technical consultant for over 9 years and more than 3 years ago she started in RPA. Just like many other developers, Priya started in UiPath academy, went through all the courses and then started to apply her knowledge in Oil & Gas Industry. During her experience she has been able to develop best practices in several areas (including people awareness). According to her it is all about proper communication.
Firstly, the expectations need to be set properly between CoE and specialists (SMEs, departments etc.). Leaders should be able to communicate what exactly is the goal behind RPA implementation. As Priya says, “RPA is not a silver bullet to solve all your problems but rather a small step that’s gonna enable your business”. This ensures that everyone can overcome the psychological barriers of being replaced by robots or useless in the future.
Selecting right processes for implementation is the key for successful Digital Transformation Initiatives. Many companies tend to try RPA “just for the sake of doing it” or to win a race of reporting the number of automated processes (focus on quantity), but skipping best practices in order to speed up delivery. This approach leads to many issues in later stages of the project, when it comes to maintenance and scaling.
Errors and mistakes are common and that is why Priya underlines the importance of capturing what went well and what could have been better. Review of the lessons learned is very important. Priya mentions an example of one of her clients who was just trying to implement RPA in IT department without any clear expectations or goals.
People’s awareness should be built on multiple levels so it covers all company representatives; specialists, team leaders, managers and IT teams.
It is important to remember that employee’s satisfaction should be same important as customer satisfaction. This should be the focus of managers and team leaders because “with RPA you can actually reduce the workload your people are going through”. Giving one robot per person will help people with their tasks, reduce the amount of repetitive work, increase happiness and consequently help to improve work & life balance. This is even more crucial during times like nowadays when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the work to be done remotely.
RPA is not perfect and brings challenges as well. When it comes to people’s awareness, the vast majority of those are psychological – fear of being replaced often brings unwillingness to cooperate with CoE. It is crucial to understand that “RPA is about better utilization of resources, but not replacing people”. Nowadays it gives you a possibility to keep the same amount of employees but be times more efficient.
At last, Eduard & Priya discussed how People Awareness 2.0 could look like. Robots are gonna become “a very household name” and changes will be visible on various levels – Priya says. Schools and universities should provide RPA courses as an elementary knowledge (just like the knowledge of Microsoft Excel nowadays). Then students can choose whether they want to proceed with learning about RPA or they will be able to choose any other desired profession. Question “Are you ready to work with robots?” should become a part of each job interview and RPA awareness needs to be included into employee on-boarding training regardless of position. This way organisations will ensure cooperation between every employee and CoE from the day 1.
5 recommendations from Priya to build a successful People Awareness Campaign in organisation:
- To specialists: Listen to your CoE, let your CoE drive awareness sessions, try to take part in workshops to understand what RPA could do.
- To company: Have an open strategy. Communicate better what is our common goal.
- To company: Don’t keep RPA as a secret initiative or “area 51” project. Be very open and mention that “We build robots to help you but not to get rid of you”
- To managers: rethink the way of looking at your business and approaching it. Make digital processes and digital employees a new normal inside organization.
- To recruiters: build awareness even before a new employee joins. Include it in the job description that “you will work with robots” and when hiring explain that as well. It can make position more attractive and set readiness to cooperate with CoE from day 1.