Proof of Concept — the definition
“Proof of concept (PoC) is a realization of a certain method or idea in order to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle with the aim of verifying that some concept or theory has practical potential.”
That is what the definition form Wikipedia tells us. It is undeniably correct, but does it include the whole scope of PoC for RPA implementation? Does it satisfy the needs of modern organizations that would like to test that kind of automation? In our opinion — no. So, let us try to supplement the cited definition with essential elements that will help us to plan this stage of RPA implementation better.
The technical aspect — important but not the only goal
Let us begin like Hitchcock… In 2020, the main RPA PoC goal should not be the confirmation whether RPA technology can automate operations within our IT systems. For many people, such a statement may be shocking, but focusing attention only on technical aspects of an experiment such as PoC, is the approach that has small value for the organization.
Robots operate in organizations around the globe, and they perfectly handle operations in many different systems. Each of the leading RPA technology providers can recall several reference implementations. Often, they include many organizational units and countries, and the number of automated processes or tasks is expressed in three-digits.
Primarily — a test of processes
In that case, what should you focus on during the RPA PoC stage? Let us remember that it is the right moment to compare technologies and the effectiveness of the process implementation. At the PoC stage, there should be such elements as robots cooperation with apps of key importance for the company and the ways robots interact with business apps (such as Citrix.) It is worth highlighting that practically every leading tool will allow us to build automation within our apps. At the PoC stage, we look for answers to the question: how can we effectively do this and how much will it cost us?
The crucial aspect for carrying out RPA PoC is mainly the selection of a process or processes (usually up to 2—3) that can be automated. We have already brought the subject under discussion during our webinars and in the articles on our blog. A properly selected process allows us to reduce the risk of our project failure, and it also proves that correct use of technology can bring benefits.
In the case of some processes, one hundred percent automation is possible, and it allows us to reduce the time to perform a task several times and achieve savings up to several tens of percent.
Before starting RPA PoC, we should have a ready business case with main points we would like to confirm. When PoC is finished, we will be able to update our assumptions and parameters related to the robots’ construction effectiveness and achieved benefits. It will enable us to develop reliable business cases for the next stages of the automation program and its continuation.
PoC also gives the possibility of testing the previous principles of carrying out projects in the company as well as the cooperation of the IT and business departments. This is a great opportunity to determine who is responsible for what, to develop or improve our internal procedures associated with collecting requirements, testing and putting the robots to maintenance.
Proof of Concept — the foundation of the future implementation
Let us remember to have a diligent approach to planning PoC and note down scrupulously all our observations during implementation. The first weeks spent on creating software robots and cooperating with them are an excellent opportunity to gather the information that will help us to better prepare the organization to implement new technology on a large scale.
No matter if the scope of our PoC includes implementation to production (then, we may talk about a pilot or a pilot phase) or not, its result should be the information allowing us to make a conscious decision about further fate of this technology in the company.
- RPA Consultant
A manager with over 15 years of experience in software and technology consulting. A graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology and the Warsaw School of Economics experienced in managing big teams (over 50 FTE) in international programs and projects. He has cooperated with clients from the financial, manufacturing, and telecommunication industries in Europe and the Middle East. At Craftware, he is responsible for consulting and development of RPA services.