Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is more than just a ‘buzzword’, neither is it a futuristic fantasy of 10 arm robots performing multiple tasks at once. It is in fact, according to Gartner, the fastest growing segment of the global enterprise software market. In 2018, Gartner estimated the spending on RPA software exceeded $600 million, with an estimated $2.4 billion predicted by 2022.
Transforming the way that mundane processes are carried out, it has been embraced across all sectors as it offers improved efficiency by reducing human error especially when it comes to inputting and working with digital data. By carrying out the tasks that everyone hates to do, RPA frees up time for staff to concentrate on higher value work, increasing business productivity. It also provides that necessary first step into digital transformation for even the most traditional of companies.
Initially installed in factories to improve production through speed and greater reliability, the RPA process has now been adopted by many industries and sectors. Right now banks, insurance companies and utilities are embracing the benefits of RPA. These organisations are highly mature ‘organisationally’ and depend on defined processes to operate, many of which are repetitive. Unlike people, robots have no problem with performing the same task over and over again.
A key advantage for implementing RPA is it can increase productivity and therefore reduce costs. Researchers at The London School of Economics found that RPA in the Energy Sector delivered a 200% ROI where only 25% of the processes were automated. By increasing RPA in this instance, the productivity and returns could be increased further still.
In regards to the insurance sector, a McKinsey report found that one insurer achieved a significant productivity gain when RPA was used to carry out a particular process in 30 minutes which had previously taken two days to complete. It is these administrative tasks, including invoicing and reporting, where RPA can really help as a time-saving and cost-saving measure to transform how businesses operate.
RPA will not work for every business. But if you’re at the ‘considering stage’ then these 8 tips might just help make the decision to adopt RPA clearer. Will RPA be your best friend for 2020, or simply remain just an acquaintance?
Tips to successfully implement RPA at your company
- Define Your Business Goals First
RPA cannot solve all business problems and there are certainly many factors to consider before you decide to incorporate it into your business. Begin by reviewing your current business needs and analyse whether RPA can contribute to achieving these goals.
For example, if your company has a goal to increase profits by 5% for next financial year, optimising the expense side of the business could make a significant contribution. RPA benefits include greater accuracy and speed so could be key to reducing costs and increasing profits.
- Asses Your Process Maturity Before Implementing RPA
RPA delivers the best results in situations where you have highly mature and well defined processes. There is little value in automating ineffective processes.
To assess your process maturity, consider the following:
- Do you have standard operating procedures (SOPs) written and used in the department
- Do you track success or mistake rates in your process?
For RPA to work effectively, operations needs to be structured. There is little value in automating ineffective processes.
- Address Change Management and Personnel Concerns Directly
Will the introduction of RPA have an impact on employment within the company resulting in job changes or layoffs? If so, where possible ensure that managers look for retraining opportunities for staff who may be impacted by RPA.
Employees who know your company’s values, expectations and needs are worthwhile, so it is beneficial to look for internal relocation opportunities where possible. If jobs are cut then perhaps develop a program to help them find new employment outside of your organisation.
- Use 80/20 Analysis to Focus your RPA Implementation
When it comes to implementing your RPA project, adopting the 80/20 concept to your project planning is a good place to start. Ask yourself which significant department or function is 80% driven by repetitive processes? Once you have shortlisted these departments, which may include finance, human resources and IT, ask your staff to identify then 20% of tasks that have the most repetitive process. Then focus your RPA on those areas, e.g administration or reporting.
- Establish Monitoring and Reporting to Detect Problems
Although RPA reduces human input in tasks carried out, it is still important to monitor work undertaken as completely hands-off automation is not here yet! To minimise unpleasant surprises, we recommend management review monthly reports focussing on both quantitative data points (e.g. number of tickets or issues solved) and qualitative elements (e.g. comments from customers and employees using the system).
- Manage the Implementation as a Project
Bringing innovative technology to your organisation is a major challenge. By appointing a project manager with suitable experience and qualifications to oversee the implementation of RPA will allow any problems to be quickly identified and resolved, in turn reassuring stakeholders.
- Start With a Pilot Project
Introducing RPA as part of your business transformation process will present challenges. To minimise disruption to the business as a whole, start with a small pilot project in one department, e.g. automate 1-2 processes in finance which can be closely monitored.
- Get External Support for your RPA Transformation
To capture the benefits of RPA, it is best to seek external support for your project. Existing staff may have limited to no expertise to deal with the new technology being implemented. External support through training, consultation or full project management provided by experts like Ciklum, will help ensure the easy transition to the adoption of RPA into your business.