If you have a strong team of business analysts or people in functions like HR and Finance working with the process, they can help implement RPA more easily.
Most companies have processes that require manual effort. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), rather than an administrator taking information from one system, analysing and exporting it to another, the technology sits in the middle and automates the process.
The use of the word ‘robotics’ in the term RPA can be confusing. It’s not about physical robots, instead we’re talking about pieces of software or virtual robots that must log in to systems like a human would.
Historically RPA has been best deployed for repetitive tasks requiring little in the way of decision making and intuition, but with the ongoing growth and accessibility of Artificial Intelligence, synergies are staring to emerge.
Ultimately RPA removes manual effort allowing staff to do work that’s higher value for them and the company.
Typically, where you have a significant back-office headcount or people answering calls and queries such as in HR, Finance and call centres, there are opportunities for RPA.
In any of those roles, people are usually working around the constraints of a system. In the case of a call centre, the call handler may have to check multiple systems to gather information, which takes time and adds frustration. An RPA integration could very easily resolve this.
Let’s take the example of order fulfilment, where, if a customer rings a call centre the agent might have an internal system for checking if an order has shipped, and an external one for checking its location – a manual task the agent must repeat each time.
An RPA process could obtain the original reference and log in to each system to retrieve the status in one automated step rather than two manual ones.
That’s empowering for the operator, and a far better experience for the customer.
Four key challenges of adopting RPA
- Selecting the right process to automate: Sometimes a process can be too complicated or require too many decisions to automate easily.
- Knowing which software is right for you: Some tools have better capabilities for specific industries or requirements than others. For example, in a regulatory environment the monitoring and auditing of bots may be high priority.
- Integrating RPA with your organisation: Every development process goes through a methodology; how to gather requirements and work with stakeholders. Developing one that’s fit-for-purpose for your organisation is very important.
- Scaling RPA across your business: There are different models, so it’s about working through an organisation design element to pick the right one for your culture.
Lower barrier to entry
The barrier to entry with RPA is lower than for big software change projects because code is not being developed – instead, the people who understand the business process can implement the tools.
If you have a strong team of business analysts or people in functions like HR and Finance working with the process, they can help implement RPA more easily. You still have to get the software deployment and architecture right, but in terms of automating the process you don’t need a big team of software engineers.
At EY, we are a major consumer of RPA so we understand the challenges. Across several of our own business functions we have automated key tasks to improve efficiency and remove manual processing. When we talk about scaling RPA, we have done it to an industrial level.