I recently attended shareserviceslink’s analytics and robotics conference in Dallas, where we explored how applying analytics and robotic process automation can improve finance and business decision making.
This was a great opportunity to hear from companies concerning their experiences with robotic process automation (RPA) and where they are on their journey. Many attendees were relatively new to RPA and in the early stages of understanding it. In fact, according to sharedserviceslink’s pre-survey, 39% of attendees did not yet have a defined a strategy for RPA.
One company who presented was definitely farther along on the journey than others, and a few attendees I talked with were hoping to kick off a project in 2016.
If you are curious about RPA and wonder how it might benefit your organization, here are five things I learned from the event that you may find helpful.
- Many organizations are still in the early stages of understanding what “robotic process automation” is and how it can help them. The market is relatively new and there’s still plenty of time to learn what RPA is all about. First, remember that “robotic process automation” does not involve physical robots; it involves automation software that runs on either a desktop or server. Second, business and IT need to work together to understand where and how RPA can best solve the many integration and automation challenges faced by enterprise organizations.
- Your Business Process Outsourcers (BPO) are likely using some form of RPA technology today. Robotic automation originated in the BPO market. Now companies are seeing the value of what it could mean to their internal processes as well. One company discussed how they plan to support a hybrid model where some work will continue to be outsourced, and other internal processes will be reviewed, and hopefully automated using RPA.
- Understand the process well and why employees perform certain steps along the way. It is important to know why an employee performs multiple repetitive tasks to complete a business activity. As one speaker said, it makes no sense to automate five tasks, when only three of the tasks make sense. Some employees do crazy things when trying to make their job easier. So don’t take an overly complicated series of human tasks and simply apply robotic automation software.
- “Software robots” work like people and can make errors like people, therefore it is important to pay attention to the details. You may think RPA is automated and perfect. A robot can automate virtually any repetitive task a user performs and do it with 100% accuracy, but if you build a process flow (software robot) to do something wrong, then the automation will be repeated wrong every time.
- Benefits of RPA are much more than just cost savings. While companies can reap cost savings, it’s not the only business driver for investing in RPA. Think about your employees and breakdown the value of their work tasks into three categories: low, medium, and high. RPA automates the low-level tasks so your employees can focus on higher-value tasks.
Over the years, many companies we’ve worked with have realized efficiency gains and ability to a better customer experience. In the case of logistics and transportation, customer service reps can spend more time servicing clients, speeding up collection disputes, and less time performing data entry work between internal systems and partner/customer web portals.