If you are at a stage of considering whether RPA is the right answer to your challenges it is worth to examine why others opted to choose this way. Robotization with RPA is a powerful tool in enhancing your company operations and in taking a digitalization leap forward. However, like any tool, it is essential to identify the most adequate issues it can fix.
So, what are the reasons why companies go for robotization?
1. They find it difficult to automate to the required extent with IT, and not all automation is economically justified that way
In all companies known to us one thing is taken for granted: IT resources are scarce and choices made in terms of what will be developed by technical team and what needs to wait for ‘unknown future’ are always difficult. Moreover, IT development is generally expensive what leads to very careful decision making with heavy emphasis on business case the investment is to generate.
The above leads to a simple generalization, that usually IT resources are more likely to be placed into front-end, business development areas that are to have a larger impact on top rather than bottom line. Moreover, introducing new technologies, new channels, new business lines and new products very often leads to increase in complexity in back-office. In ideal world this complexity should be hidden from our eyes and solved by automated interfaces and applications. As most of us know, in reality it is not always the case and very often more technology closer to front-end is associated with increase in manual work to be done in the back-office.
Having the above in mind, RPA fits just perfectly in such world. It is much more economically justified, has much simpler development process and yields benefits faster than typical IT development. Also RPA is usually less challenging technologically (though in terms of processing complexity RPA often is quite a task to face), hence specialists in advanced IT technologies are often simply not adequate for the automation needed in back-office operation. That is why RPA is very often the right answer to challenges that back-office operations are facing in the area of automation and technological advancement.
2. Are looking for quick wins against labor market challenges (attrition, rising wages, training, etc.)
Many geographies experience shortage in talent and candidates to work. This leads to a situation where people are comfortable to change jobs. Our experience shows, that back-office operations have this typical feature that very often the team consists of relatively stable core of a team that is more specialized and more suitable for more advanced tasks. The other part of a team is usually experiencing higher rotation, where usually younger employees are very often allocated to those less challenging and more tedious tasks. As such set-up should be managed and teams should have sufficient competence blending to maintain high motivation across the team, it is not always achieved. In such situation the attrition is maintained at high levels what leads to higher recruitment and training costs.
The important feature is that tasks which are typically less favored by workers due to the repetitive, tedious and error prone character are the most suitable for robots. Hence, having robots on board can significantly reduce attrition as people can focus on more challenging and creative tasks having Digital Teammates on board. Also robots are easier to train, don’t leave job and don’t ask for a raise, so they increase stability in back-office operations management.
3. Are willing to release employees from the most tedious and repetitive tasks
Our experience shows that most places the challenge is that organizations have too much work when compared with people available to them. This in itself is a challenge to maintain the right team that can do the heavy lifting in back-office operations. We can add here, that unfortunately still in many places people are doing tasks which should have been automated long ago. We mean repetitive, tedious ad error prone processes. The coincidence is that such activities are just perfect for robots.
Hence, having robots on board generally raises motivation as the most unwanted jobs can be done by them and people, having Digital Teammates working shoulder by shoulder, can eventually focus on more creative and developing tasks what eventually leads to much more attractive workplace.
4. Are looking for more efficiency
Robots are faster than humans. It depends on type of application and nature of process by how much. Our experience shows that on average robot works around 4 times faster than a human, up to 50 times faster on some of the oldest terminal applications.
5. Are looking for improvement in quality
Robots trained and developed well do not make mistakes. They always follow the procedures and never make a typo or miscalculation or any other mistake which can be more likely the more repetitive and tedious the task is. Robots are the simplest and fastest way to improve the quality of your operations.
6. Are taking first step to try and experiment with AI
AI is always an interesting step to take when technological advancement in operations is considered. Having algorithms that can do the work but do not need to be deterministically designed in 100% of cases prior the deployment is attractive for many processes.
Though AI elements in robotization differ significantly from pure RPA. Pure RPA is 100% deterministic. The input is 100% strictly specified, procedures are close-end and fully known and output is always predictable and can be tracked back if needed.
AI is never error free, as one of its features is that it is learning with time and increases its efficiency over time. This on its own means, that RPA processes are easy to design as robots can be simply placed within a process and we know exactly how many cases with what result will be done by robots. AI does require a human supervision or second hand checks what leads to a need of process redesign to make sure that whatever AI is doing eventually does not have unexpectedly negative impact.
This is the reason why we believe that robots with AI are more challenging for successful deployment, hence it is advised to start with simpler RPA robots first. This is particularly important from psychological point of view as well designed RPA robots yield positive results from day one after the deployment. In cases where AI needs some time to learn how to do its job, the team needs to maintain certain level of patience and understating for the new technology working side by side.
Teams that already experienced how pure RPA robots can help in their daily job are better prepared to welcome additions of AI to the team.