What is RPA?
Many people within business are now familiar with the idea of using automation to improve business efficiency. Robotic Process Automation achieves this using software robots to cut tedious tasks, freeing workers to focus on higher value work or in some cases reduce headcount by the use of digital labour. But RPA requires proper design, planning and governance if it’s to achieve its forecasted benefits.
An ever-increasing number of CIOs are turning to the emerging technology of robotic process automation to streamline operations and reduce costs. With RPA, businesses can automate mundane, repetitive rules-based processes, enabling workers to devote more time to other high-value work and serving customers. Others are using RPA as a path to intelligent automation (IA) via machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
What is robotic process automation?
RPA is an application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. Using RPA tools, a company can configure a software robot to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems. RPA scenarios range from something as simple as responding to an email with an automatic response to deploying thousands of bots, each programmed to automate jobs in an ERP system.
Take as an example the large pension planning and pension administration specialist looking to make a number of improvements within their business. Their aim was to improve internal processes; increasing revenue by offering a better customer experience, therefore higher customer retention, and more upsell opportunities. To achieve this, Robotic Process Automation was used to display all customer information held internally on disparate systems in one single view. After implementation, staff were able to respond to customer enquiries much more quickly, reducing call handling time by 15%, and achieving stated goals by providing a far better customer experience, leading to greater customer satisfaction.
What are the benefits of RPA?
RPA provides organisations with the ability to reduce staffing costs and human error. Deloitte LP implemented RPA redesigned its claims process by deploying 85 bots to run 13 processes which handle 1.5 million requests per year. The equivalent of adding 200 new staff but at below one-third of the cost.
Bots are low-cost and comparatively easy to put in place, requiring no custom software or complex systems integration. This allows them to be deployed quickly and across many low-value tasks.
RPA can be combined with cognitive technologies such as Machine Learning, speech recognition, and natural language processing, automating more complex tasks that have previously required humans to make judgement calls.
Such RPA implementations, in which 20 steps or more may be automated, is known as intelligent automation (IA) and this is the immediate aim of many organisations.
Gartner state that by 2020 automation and AI will be adopted by over 40% of large enterprise and will have reduced the number of employees required to deliver the same results by 65%
But is it that simple?
One of RPA biggest challenges comes from one of its benefits, the ability to eliminate humans from the processes and in-turn eliminate jobs. Forrester Research estimates that RPA software will threaten the livelihood of 230 million or more knowledge workers or approximately 9 per cent of the global workforce.
Some of the initial optimism and enthusiasm for deploying RPA has been tempered by the reality of complexity and cost. The platforms on which the software robots interact often change and this hasn’t always been taken into consideration when designing the bot.
Even when more realistic expectations are held the financial benefits may not be as initially thought. Automating 50 per cent of tasks for a role may well not translate to a 50 per cent cost reduction.
Who is Using RPA?
In the UK RPA is being adopted across a wide range of organisations from NHS Trusts and utility companies such as npower to HMRC and Ticketmaster. RPA is a solution that works across all verticals.
How to Guarantee Success
Tips for effective robotic process automation
1. Set and manage expectations: Getting results from RPA quickly is a possibility but running larger projects is far more complex. Understanding which processes to start with and they were to scale will set more realistic expectations. These expectations can be set out after the initial scoping of the projects.
2. Consider business impact: RPA isn’t just about automating tasks to reduce cost. RPA can be and often should be seen as a way to improve the customer experience. An example of this could be removing the need to a customer to wait on hold to resolve an issue when they could be serviced by a chatbot and escalated to a human as and when needed.
3. Involve the IT from the Beginning: The promise of software robots that sit on top of existing systems without complex integration has lead to a number of deployments that ultimately have stalled as the reality is that IT skills are needed. Business unit heads must involve the IT team from the start to ensure they get the resources they require for a successful deployment.
4. Poor design and a lack of change management: Mapping out how multiple bots will work together to avoid any break down in them communicating is key. But all too often the design is not fully thought through and so the project fails. Also, the resulting change in the business process that will result from deploying RPA needs to be considered and communicated within the organisation.
5. Keeping it simple and on track: Using RPA can result in companies having more data than before and there may be a temptation to start working with this new data and running machine learning. This can result in what was initially a relatively simple RPA project turning into something far more complex which hasn’t been properly scoped. Keeping on track to deliver the original project and achieving the identified benefits should be the aim before any additional elements are considered.
6. Command and Control: Once RPA software robots are deployed they can not be left to their own devices and forgotten. Updates and changes to the software the bots are interacting with may break the automation if left unmanaged.
7. Don’t forget the people: Deploying RPA is going to change the way that people work within an organisation. Even if there is no plan to reduce headcount it may still be a concern within the company.
Are you thinking of automating some aspects of your business?
Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence will transform the way your business handles repetitive and mundane processes. Form and transactional processes and data input will become faster and more accurate. Automation is changing the way we work. Rule-based, repeatable functions such as form processing and data copying can be automated effectively and easily, freeing up your best people to concentrate on other things that bring more value to your company. More efficient and accurate processes will benefit your customers, your profits and your stakeholders and give you more control whilst allowing you to concentrate on the things that really matter.
Is that all needed?
JifJaff is a specialised independent RPA consultancy. JifJaff can help you throughout your entire RPA project cycle. From initially accessing which processes will most benefit from automation and onto scoping the project. By helping you choose the right and relevant solutions and vendors for your business, we can reduce your overheads and increase your capacity, accuracy and profitability. We understand the difficulties you face and can advise on and implement an RPA system that will help your business embrace the future. We can design, deliver and manage your RPA solution. There are many RPA/AI systems, offering a multitude of functions. The breadth of choice can be overwhelming. Our consultants will bring their expertise to help you navigate the RPA minefield and advise you as to what is important and necessary for your company’s specific requirements, whether that is for a stand-alone project or companywide deployments.
Before you start your Robotic Process Automation project speak to JifJaff, we can save you money, remove risk and ensure the success of your project.