There are many things to consider when implementing a new technology; formulating value proposition and a plan for a successful implementation are things to start with. RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is no exception, and, as every change, provides both benefits and implementation challenges to its advocates, users and leaders driving such change.
Based on findings from KPMG’s Global Sourcing Advisory Pulse Survey titled Robotic Revolution, technology experts believe, that “The opportunities from robotic process automation (RPA) implementation are many — so are the adoption challenges […] For most organizations, taking advantage of higher-end RPA opportunities will be easier said than done.”
Although the report has been compiled more than 2 years ago, its findings stay true to this day. Each company thinking of progressing with automation will ask the same questions: What are these difficulties? What value-added services can RPA provide? What are some of the roadblocks and success stories regarding implementation?
These are the questions we will tackle today in discussing the pros and cons of using robotic software to take on business process roles.
Advantages of RPA
One of the best cases for implementing RPA are fintech and insurance companies. Let’s say an insurance provider wants to streamline numerous administrative tasks and optimise business processes. They are seeking an automation solution that will quickly improve their transformation of back office processes to leverage greater agility and growth in its business services. With automation, such business can expect a number of already recognised benefits; e.g. faster, personalised response based on the past data collected from the customer, increased efficiency of claims processing, personalised quotes, enhanced accuracy of manual data input or quick scalability based on customer demand.
These advantages of RPA implementation are relatively common and self-explanatory. For those wondering if RPA offers more — yes it does. Some of the less frequently discussed outcomes RPA can deliver include:
- Compatibility with existing systems and seamless implementation — That’s because RPA basically mimics human actions. The technology interacts with data within the presentation layer of platforms and applications as would another human do, with the improvement that it’s totally error-free. It results in companies not needing to make changes to existing legacy systems, but rather optimising them when implementing RPA. Organisations find it beneficial because it allows them to implement improvements in a non-interruptive way — and that’s unique among other types of automation. It also reduces the need for constant IT specialist involvement and for employees to have straightforward coding abilities.
- Better management capabilities — In combination with a centralised management platform, organisations have the ability to remotely model, monitor, control, schedule, and execute the deployment of RPA software robots. Because certain requirements can be embedded in automation rules, RPA allows organisations to achieve enhanced governance in order to better manage business operations. What’s more, RPA allows auditing and analytics to happen in the same place, without losing the track of the data input. In addition, high levels of security can be maintained through remote server control of the software robots.
- Improved customer experience — Nowadays companies understand the need of excellent customer service and that’s the main differentiator of the global industry leaders. In order for your company to give best customer experience, you need to give your employees such work experience first. RPA comes very helpful here, since it can alleviate employees from the burden of repetitive, high-volume tasks such as claims processing, scheduled reports generation or purchase order issuing. Even though the automation of back office tasks seemingly does not have an impact on the front office, RPA can significantly drive improvements for customers as well. More time for your employees means ability to deliver higher quality services to your customers in a timely, pleasant manner.
- Data integration and compliance —With hundreds or thousands of software platforms implemented in a typical medium sized company, RPA is a life saver. It removes data gaps between disparate sources and logs all actions completed by the the software robots throughout automation. This allows employees to proactively recognise and manage any compliance issues and consistently run internal reviews. In industries such as insurance or health, this is a game changer, since it significantly helps to meet certain regulations, safety and privacy or financial rules such as PCI compliance.
Now the challenges…
As you can see, RPA offers a handful of benefits that allows companies, such as our hypothetical insurance company, to optimise their most of their business operations and deliver exceptional, fast and accurate customer service.
There are two sides to everything, and so RPA is not without challenges. No solution exists without certain challenges in integrating a new technology into a company’s current architecture. Here just some of the difficulties that could stand in the way of our example company — insurance provider’s successful use of RPA:
- RPA is usually a short term/interim solution. Sure, it can provide an immediate relief and benefit, but in the long term, it requires complex omini-channel platforms and frequent workflow review and optimisation.
- Current RPA tools available in the market have no or limited machine learning capability — We’re still quite far away from the moment when automation will be truly cognitive. The scope for automation will increase exponentially with AI and machine capability getting integrated with RPA tools, but we are not there yet (don’t believe if companies offering RPA are trying to convince you otherwise :)
- Ownership — This means who owns RPA solutions. Is it lead by IT or Business teams? Business needs to provide the requirement, approve the solution design for feasibility, help in UAT and then measure the success rate. IT teams has a limited role primarily restricted to providing support in infrastructure requirements and test data creation. Business doesn’t necessarily have skills to provide the detailed level technical requirement at the time of BRD or define the test scenarios as needed by QA teams. The need for good business analysts is a paramount, however they are limited talent available in the market, who has exposure to RPA design and solution and understands potential value.
- Limited application — this may involve handwritten documents. Partial automation based on cost and benefit analysis can be considered if full end to end automation is not available or reachable within reasonable timescale.
- Change Management — Business and IT teams need to collaborate and proactively provide system and business updates to RPA support team to update scripts, once they are in the production. It may create additional challenges if multiple applications are used in the process. Any change in the front end UI will impact the RPA script hence, the outcome.
- Employee resistance and onboarding — This is one of the biggest challenges and pertains to all companies due to a simple fact — people fear change by nature. Any changes that accompany implementation of a new technology can be stressful for employees as they might experience shifts in their responsibilities. Frequent communication from company leaders and executive sponsors to ensure employees are fully informed about what is expected of them throughout the implementation process is essential to successful adoption. Fostering a culture of innovation within the company will only further accelerate this adoption and remove behavioural resistance.
Choosing the processes right for your company
The automation capabilities provided by RPA are ideal for tasks that are repetitive, rules-based, high volume, and do not require human judgement. This can include activities such as data migration and copy-paste tasks. RPA implementation is especially difficult though with business processes that are non-standardised and require frequent human intervention in order to execute. Typically, more complex tasks include interacting with customers and developing human relationships. For such tasks an Attended RPA is implemented, which means that during the process, the robot can be designed to return control to the person in front of the workstation, if necessary, so that the person can make a decision that requires their judgement or business experience. (Read more).
While it is an upfront time investment, it’s important for companies to determine which of their processes are suitable for RPA so that automation runs smoothly.
You need to set realistic expectations. This is arguably one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to implementing a new technology such as RPA. Instead of seeing RPA as the panacea for operational problems and broken processes, organizations need to recognize the limits of what RPA can and cannot do. Decisions regarding the technology need to be made on an individualized and company-specific basis, as RPA’s functionality, implementation timeline, and operational results will vary between different companies. Maintaining company-wide discussions about expected results will allow organisations to make the most of RPA and its benefits.
Overcoming the obstacles
While adopting RPA might initially seem daunting, proper planning and consideration allows companies to fully leverage all that RPA has to offer. In addition, the competitive advantages RPA offers far outweighs the potential pain points of implementation, many of which are merely ever present pains as companies adapt to the new technology. Despite obstacles that can occur during implementation, RPA is still one of the most straightforward technologies to establish — in fact, a couple of RPA’s greatest benefits are often overlooked, especially its ease of deployment.
As companies work to quickly overcome initial challenges such as choosing what processes to automate and overcoming employee resistance, once implemented, results are prominent and will drive further changes with less resistance encountered. Organisations will be able to recognise new applications for RPA among their business activities and eventually increase the scale of automation within their enterprise.
At Untrite, we provide smart RPA solutions for high growth companies. We are very excited about the new projects we are taking on helping our clients’ employees focus on productivity — not processing. Follow our next steps by subscribing to our newsletter or get in touch by emailing me directly at email@example.com.