Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th April marked Blue Prism World London 2019, which allowed the Veran team to sink their teeth into the intricacies of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – a form of automation that interacts with computer-centric processes to replace human involvement in repetitive & administrative tasks in the exact same way that a person works with that software.
For any reader unfamiliar with Blue Prism, they are one of the incumbent vendors within the RPA market space, an area which has grown exponentially in the last decade. With footfall in excess of 2600 people and 100 different customers, the landscape has changed drastically compared to 11 years ago which signified the inaugural Blue Prism World which had only 60 people and a handful of customers.
The benefits of RPA
This year’s tagline was clear, “This is the Era of Connected-RPA” – and Blue Prism are here to facilitate that transition, allowing us to “automate more, automate better and automate together”. A quickly re-emerging theme throughout the event was the unparalleled benefits of RPA, which at the highest level allows businesses to create a digital workforce capable of executing complex, high-volume processes faster, more accurately and more cost effectively than traditional workers. Successful implementations boast impressive statistics of what this means in reality. For example, Shop Direct, early adopters of RPA, starting their journey 11 years ago have 190 robots working on over 100 processes, which last year saved the company in excess of 900,000 working hours. Similarly, International bank ČSOB have witnessed 38 FTE savings till date during their RPA journey, allowing the business to redefine their roles to focus on value added tasks.
The challenge of scaling RPA
Based on research conducted by Avanade, it is expected that 56% of Global IT decision makers will invest in RPA within the next three years, compared to the 19% which presently use it. However, despite the success of RPA there was a reoccurring issue which prevents businesses reaching the full potential of its use. Despite the exceptions demonstrated above, only 4% of businesses that have invested In RPA have achieved a scale of 50-250 robots, a minor 1% increase on the 3% of business in 2017. So, what’s the issue and what do businesses need to do to navigate it?
The top three barriers identified in preventing scaling of robotic process automation are regarded as:
Lack of IT readiness and
Lack of clear vision
Which processes are best for automation?
To navigate these issues, it is important that any business engaging on an RPA Journey conducts a rigorous process discovery. As the first stage of any digital automation lifecycle, triaging processes that will be good candidates for automation allows you to create a pipeline and prioritise the organisational road map. Part of this discovery is to assess and analyse processes, focusing on automation potential, ease of implementation and benefit opportunity; which by identifying easy implementations with high rewards demonstrates the powerful and tangible benefits to key stakeholders involved in the project.
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) identified tasks to target for automation:
Activities that Work Well with RPA
File Prep/Extracting Data from Documents
Merging/Scraping Data from Systems
File Vetting/Post Verification
Checking the Checker
Reading and Writing to Database
Send/Receive Structured emails
Manual Data Input
Activities that don’t work well with RPA
Free Form Text/Special Instructions
Handling Unstructured Data
Process not Standardised/Inefficient
Reading Word Documents
Make Decisions if Uncertain
Work on Same Interface in Conjunction with Users
Interpret Colours, Formats & Symbols
Engaging the business
One of the key departments and stakeholders fundamental to the project are IT, as such IT support is critical to achieving scale. IT teams need educating to help learn and adapt to new ways of working, and in doing so the pace of robot deployment will accelerate rapidly. Similarly, it is imperative organisations engage senior executives and set a bold ambition for the enterprise. For example, one organisation challenged themselves to deliver 10% of their entire administrative operations through a virtual workforce, which allowed them to make conscious decisions to achieve it.
Companies looking at RPA should think big, think broad, and think benefits. Any target should be significant to the organisation and fully leverage RPA, adopting robotics across the whole enterprise to maximise benefits, which focuses far beyond headcount reduction but quality and compliance delivery. Arguably this means changing your operating model to a Robotic one.
Finally, think high; get your C-Suite executives on board, engage the executive committee as early as possible and communicate the vision and outcome of RPA Adoption by starting with the most painful and cumbersome areas to prove the concept. Organisations who change their mindset, work with agile principles and teach new skills in maintaining and monitoring robots will gain a competitive advantage and successfully scale their digital workforce.
Veran is offering free workshops to HR and Finance teams to help you;
Identify processes and process steps that would bring the most benefit if automated
Quantify the likely costs and benefits of automating these for your business
Agree a high-level plan to get started
For more information on Automation in HR and Finance or to book a workshop, contact firstname.lastname@example.org