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The Pros and Cons of an RPA Citizen Developer Programme: Enabling Task Automation in the Workplace
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The Pros and Cons of an RPA Citizen Developer Programme: Enabling Task Automation in the Workplace

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  1. This is it.

This is part one of our two-part blog series on Citizen Developed RPA, read part two on will an RPA Citizen Development Programme work for you?


AI and Digital Transformation are at the forefront of everyone's minds at the moment, as businesses are striving to optimise their processes and performance.

Some companies are embracing Citizen Developer RPA programmes to scale the technologies that underpin their Digital Transformation and improve processes quicker and more effectively. It enables employees to automate their own lengthy and time-consuming tasks, allowing them to focus on more important ones. This can yield benefits for a business, including saving time for employees and improving morale. In this blog, we will look at its benefits but also why it may not work for every company. In the next part of this blog series, we will then discuss how Silico can support and simulate these changes in a simple way for employees to understand.

What is Citizen Developed RPA?

Citizen Development RPA is a model which trains and empowers employees to automate their own repetitive processes. This allows employees, or ‘Citizens’, to make positive, efficient changes within their own roles.
Instead of a transformation team, people executing tasks in the process automate it. Whereas changes imposed by a transformation team can lead to a negative employee response, Citizen Development RPA gives employees agency and a say in how their roles change and improve. It also shifts the responsibility to the employees who understand the process to a finer detail, allowing RPA to be utilised in the places where it can be most effective.
When launching a Citizen Development RPA programme, it is important to consider that front-line teams are usually less advanced in coding and RPA implementation than, for example, the IT and development teams. Therefore, the system you select must be user-friendly, easy to understand, and guide citizens to make the correct decisions and implement the automation correctly. Most companies thus train their front-line teams to use low- or no-code platforms.

What are the Benefits to Training People on RPA Tools?

Citizen Developed RPA can yield benefits to your organisation and employees, some of which are listed below.

  • Improved productivity and morale
    Empower ‘Citizens’ to make changes and decisions based on their experience and knowledge. By empowering employees to make their own decisions and automate what they see fit rather than imposing process changes from the outside provides a morale boost for your employees. 
  • Optimise processes faster
    Using Citizen Developed RPA allows the business to efficiently implement RPA in your processes. On the one hand, it moves away low-hanging fruit and small changes from often backlogged Development and IT teams. On the other hand, it enables front-line teams to automate much quicker, allowing your business to scale and improve at a faster rate.
  • A customer-first approach
    Front-line teams see and experience customer satisfaction; they know what is working and what’s not. By implementing Citizen Developed RPA, businesses can react to slow and inefficient processes quicker, driving CSAT scores and customer retention.
  • Drive revenues
    As your slow, long-winded processes become automatic, your business becomes scaleable and employees are now free to spend more time in other areas, for example, keeping your customers happy or driving new revenues. In turn, this will reflect your revenues positively, driving volume upwards and processing and lead times downwards.
  • Improved business communication
    Many businesses suffer from the ‘silo’ effect when teams or areas do not communicate. Implementing Citizen Development RPA encourages communication between departments which may not usually speak to each other, and creates positive relationships across the business. This means less ‘do this task’ and more ‘how can we work together to reach our goals?’
  • Enable digital transformation
    Lastly, implementing RPA is helping businesses strive into the future by streamlining processes throughout the organisation. We are living in a world where people want and get things instantly at the tap of a button. Training employees in RPA will encourage more processes to be automated, translating to improved customer service, empowered employees and, ultimately, higher revenues. 

What are the Drawbacks?

Equally, it is important to consider the drawbacks. For some organisations these may prove to be more of a burden than the benefits Citizen Developed RPA can bring:

  • Training and Costs
    Implementing a new system that requires training and seats for many users is time-consuming and expensive. It’s important a thorough Cost-Benefit analysis is completed when considering Citizen Developed RPA for your business.
  • Productivity
    Once employees are trained and able to automate their lengthy processes, will they now become less productive? Will they utilise the RPA tool to its fullest extent?
  • Risk, Audit and Controls
    Now that employees have the ability to automate and change processes, it’s important that senior management has knowledge of employees’ initiatives. For example, an insurance company may undergo its yearly audit and the auditor needs to see a process for paying claims. Senior management may be unaware of the new, automated process. The auditors review the process and notice it is non-compliant due to some missing data points. Organisations must make sure a robust change process is in place and that those who need to know are aware of the automation implemented. 
  • Shifting the Problem
    A team may automate a part of their process which reduces their workload drastically. However, they may not have considered how this may affect other teams. For example, an order is sent from Team A to Team B at their warehouse. Team A has automated their side of the process and has seen drastic processing time improvements. However, Team B’s process time has now increased. Team B has noticed the way the order has been delivered to them is now different and requires further processing work to be accepted in their system. Employees who are trained in Citizen Developed RPA must ensure all areas of the process will benefit from their automation initiatives.

How can this work with Transformation Teams?

Whilst Citizen Developed RPA has its advantages, it's important to understand that employees ‘doing’ a process may also need a stepped-back view from someone who is not involved. This is where the employees can work with transformation teams instead of implementing under instruction; i.e. the front-line team may ask “from your perspective and expertise, how does this process look and is there scope for RPA in step x?” instead of transformation teams instructing “we will be automating step x for y reason”. The program will provide frontline employees with a greater understanding of their own processes and engage in conversations with transformation specialists. 


Despite some drawbacks, Citizen Developed RPA can be beneficial to your organisation and provide a multitude of benefits. In part 2 of this blog series, we will explain how Silico can help businesses decide if the program is a good fit and how models can be built to simulate and monitor a Citizen Developed RPA initiative.

To see how Silico can help transform your business, book a demo with our team today.

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