Well, with less than 5 months until we are celebrating Christmas, some organisations are thinking it has already come early, when they hear about RPA – Robotic Process Automation.
There are only so many hours in a day and trying to do more with less is a constant battle in many operations and other business areas. This is probably why I believe a lot of businesses are looking at RPA to help them achieve their ambitions.
RPA is seen by many as a cost-effective solution and maybe even as a ‘Silver Bullet’ to strip out cost. BUT, many need to be careful as automating a wasteful or ineffective process means you are still processing waste. However, without considering the entire system you may not even be optimising for the whole journey.
Many operational processes are suitable for automation such as the processing of claims or entering information into a database.
What is a bot & RPA?
A bot ultimately fulfils the role of a person completing repeatable tasks, the bot would log on and use your system(s) like a user. Automation of these manual activities means their execution will become quicker and less error prone, negating the need in most cases for rigorous checking. A bot could work 24/7 so no matter when your customer drives an activity a bot could respond.
Additionally it is important to understand what RPA is not meant for. This is ultimately automating tasks that are constantly changing, non-standardised, and unstable because they cannot be easily defined.
So, where should you begin?
What should you consider when choosing RPA as a solution specifically to achieve a meaningful outcome.
First off there are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you have rules based processes? That are data driven?
- Are the inputs standard and digital? Or could they be?
- How much volume do you process? Is it worth automating?
It is easy to look at bot deployment vertically in your organisation, picking off standalone processes. However, I think it is even more important to look horizontally along your customer journey to truly maximise the opportunities that you may have. Like anything though, a cost reduction is only delivered if you are processing more value-added activity with the same resource OR processing the same volume with fewer resource. Therefore, consideration of how you can actually realise the efficiency is key to continually improving and striving further.
So, in summary don’t go into RPA thinking purely about cutting costs, you always need to consider the whole and the impact on the customer and ultimately automating a wasteful process even more accurately, is still a wasteful process.