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When an HR service provider found itself handling over 2500 sick leave certificates per month, taking up most of their time, the solution they turned to was robotic process automation. This resulted in 90% process automation which saw the firm achieve return on investment within six months. Their error rate went down to zero, manual efforts reduced to 5% and processing times were down by 80%! A major transformation that significantly reduced overheads and put the firm on the path to success in no time.
While examples of such automation have been in vogue for a while in repetitive back-office operations, they are increasingly finding their way to front-office tasks too. As several industries around the world struggle with manpower and elimination of errors, robots are coming to the rescue. With the ongoing pandemic situation, the importance of process automation is being felt more acutely and enterprises worldwide are finding novel uses of the technology to take their businesses to the next level.
The chief driving factor of RPA is its ability to help enterprises get leaner, more flexible and scale faster. The enterprise RPA market is seeing an unprecedented growth of CAGR 65%. A nascent technology in 2016, the industry is now looking at investments upwards of $3 Billion by 2021.
According to a Forrester report, 2021 will also see the number of robots in the workspace grow to more than 4 million. From office and administrative tasks to those related with sales and outreach, they’ll be covering a wide range of verticals. Hence, there’s no better time to adopt than now.
What makes RPA so effective is its ability to drastically reduce costs while helping businesses to scale immensely. It also leverages existing infrastructure as the robots quickly learn, adapt and begin contributing to processes. The robots involved in the operation have the ability to mimic most human actions. They have the ability to log in to applications, transfer folders and files, copy and paste data, enter information in forms, extract and arrange data from documents and more. This makes pretty much every high-volume, business rule-driven, repetitive process eligible for automation.
When a trade credit insurance company with upwards of 50,000 clients worldwide decided to shift from manual information gathering to automation by bots, they ended up saving over 2440 hours of human work per month. Time that’s now being used by employees to work directly with clients on more complex tasks.
Sometime back, a leading Indian pathology lab approached us to explore how they can improve existing customer experience by leveraging automation. They were dealing with a high volume of patients undergoing a variety of tests and were looking for a solution which would enable them to communicate an accurate time for patients to pick up their reports. We implemented a machine learning algorithm that took multiple parameters into account and generated automated estimates on when each report would be delivered. The solution was a major success and the laboratory reported overwhelmingly positive responses.
As demands for goods and services increase around the world, human labour alone is proving increasingly inadequate to address them. For instance, here’s a chart demonstrating how productivity declined over the years in US and EU:
With manpower shortage already bogging production down and COVID-19 catalysing it all, the necessity for enterprises to go all in on robotic process automation has skyrocketed. However, like many digital transformation exercises, RPA is a complex process and improper planning could lead to an expensive failure. Let’s break down how you can go about facing various challenges and getting your implementation right:
Phase 1: Identify opportunities for robotic process automation:
Do a thorough study of every function and process in your organization and look for areas which could benefit from RPA. Assess the cost savings you can expect if shortlisted processes are transitioned to an automated model. Look for every little detail and document every task to figure how efficient and error-free automation can be
Phase 2: Consult a RPA Partner
Once you have identified the processes, the next major task is to shortlist a digital transformation partner who can help you formulate an implementation strategy and take care of execution. It’s advisable to look for organizations who specialize in end-to-end services as that’ll take a lot off your plate. Once the selection is complete, work closely with the team to define the scope of work, magnitude of transformation and craft the detailed development plan.
Phase 3: Development and Pilot
The phase where you actually start building your RPA solution. Following the project plan, adopt an agile methodology, and look to release quick proofs of concept which can be put in action, tested, used to collect data and feedback which can then be analysed to extract actionable insights for the next iteration. The more you iterate, the more data you get to perfect the solution.
Phase 4: Release and Maintenance
Once the solution is ready with all the feedback incorporated from the pilot phase, it’s now time to roll it out. Have a marketing plan ready, release it to limited markets to start with, gauge feedback and response and then eventually expand across all markets. Ensure that you keep monitoring data very closely, stay connected with users at all times and release frequent updates to keep the product up-to-date and feature-rich.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Simply put, it’s a technology that allows organizations to deploy software robots to perform tasks according to set rules without human intervention
What are the most popular processes RPA can handle?
Across a wide range of industries, RPA can handle any task that is repetitive, requires minimal human input and follows a standard set of guidelines
What benefits can you expect out of RPA?
By entirely automating processes, you can achieve error-free results, great cost savings (25-50%) and optimum efficiency and productivity
What is intelligent automation?
When basic RPA is enhanced with AI and Machine Learning so the robots can go beyond following pre-programmed guidelines and take data-driven decisions, intelligent automation can be achieved
How to get started with RPA?
Do a thorough research and identify processes which meet the criteria of robotic process automation as explained in Q2 above. Work with a digital transformation partner to strategize and execute
What is a typical RPA life cycle?
A RPA life cycle consists of 4 major phases- analysis, bot development, testing and support+maintenance. In our development cycle detailed above, these phases of RPA have been covered in-depth
How many types of RPA tools exist?
RPA tools are categorized into four main types:
What does the future of RPA look like?
As we speak, according to Gartner’s list of top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020, hyper automation occupies the number one spot. Going forward, it’s going to see widespread adoption across industries, streamlining processes and delivering unmatched value.