Back to Basics... Transforming your business with RPA

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As many companies scramble to uncover new ways to reduce cost and increase efficiency as result of recent upheaval, we are seeing a renewed interest in learning how back office automation can make a quick and substantial impact across an enterprise. As such, lots of new clients are looking to better understand the basics and benefits of how RPA (robotic process automation) can be implemented.

Quite simply RPA is a piece of software, which works with machine learning and runs on a physical or virtual machine. It operates in very much the same way a person would. It is very secure and doesn’t make changes to your system. You can even lock it down to a particular role, just as you would with a new starter.

In fact, you set up the access in exactly the same way as a new starter, as it mimics what they would do. It can work across different systems and apps, so think about work where systems don’t talk to each other and people are keying in repetitive information from one place to another. The best processes are high transaction, based on logic with structured data and are triggered by an event.

A key benefit of RPA is that is doesn’t demand extensive IT resources that may take the focus away from other critical IT projects. There is some work needed up front in relation to installation, building environments,  access approvals and  general oversight, but the majority of work is carried out in operations.

How can RPA help your business?
RPA is not all about cost reduction. Although this is one of the great benefits of RPA and typically returns millions of pounds YoY. Many companies who are going into automation do so for very different reasons, such as:

  • Improved customer experience
  • Ability to compete
  • Improved employee experience/engagement
  • Improved quality
  • Cost avoidance
  • Hours back to the business
  • Work completed faster
  • Ability to deal with peaks and troughs

If it's so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?
RPA isn’t easy, it takes time, effort and expertise to get it right. Many companies under-estimate the experience needed for a successful automation programme and ultimately stall before meaningful results are realised.

In fact, only 13% of companies have managed to successfully scale automation in their business. They may successfully implement a small number of bots, but few companies have managed to reach true scale. 

Where do I start?
It is important to really understand what RPA can do for your business and link it to your ultimate business strategy. The programme needs to be driven strategically as a business, rather than teams working in silos with no real aim in mind.

Identify the right processes
It is important to be able to identify and prioritise the right processes. For example, why would you automate a process, which only has 0.5 FTE? In some cases, there may be reasons for doing this, such as high risk of fines, or operational losses but usually you want something which has a large number of transactions.

Look at end-to-end processes
Instead of just thinking about part of the process, which hits your department, it is better to look at the whole end-to-end process which can significantly impact your organisation as a whole. Think of it from the customer journey perspective.

Redesign your processes before automating
Automating also gives you a chance to redesign and make your processes much more efficient. Simply automating an existing process just takes the manual effort out; but redesigning the process, followed by automation, increases speed and accuracy exponentially. 

Find the #RightPartner to help you achieve the best results
If you are new to automation, or you're ready to take your programme to the next level, it is advisable to get a good partner to help you effectively scale your automation. True partners will have the experience to ensure you don’t fall into the common traps. They will also help to speed up the process, because they have tried and tested tools and methodologies in place. Some can also give you certainty of outcomes, so you know what it will cost and what you will save, and by when. If it is your strategy to do it in house, then a certified partner can train your staff, whilst implementing and building your CoE and operating model, so eventually you can run your own programme.

What about the other tools?
RPA is just one tool from a robust toolkit that enables businesses to automate processes.  For best results, RPA is a foundation upon which other tools, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), Intelligent Optical Character Recognition (IOCR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Chatbots, plus many more, should be layered.  Want to learn more about how a carefully crafted suite of technologies can be assembled for truly transformative results? Check out a recent blog entitled -- What is Intelligent Automation? 

A version of this post was originally featured on LinkedIn and can be found here.
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