Robotic Process Automation (RPA)-An era Of Operational Excellence

Post by : Akshay Thakur

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology tool aimed at automating the mundane high-volume, repetitive, and rules-based business activities for both front office and back office that required a great deal of time and manual effort. Through the use of RPA tools, a business can leverage the software “robot” or “bot” to process transactions, capture or manipulate data, generate automatic responses, communicate with customers or other systems, and so on in the same manner as the prescribed manual pathways taken by a human. RPA as a digital workforce that could mimic the similar steps that a human takes to perform business tasks, only with the greater speed, increased accuracy, and more consistency.

Boosting Business

In addition to the obvious benefit of cost reduction, RPA technology allows the business to achieve greater operational efficiency, increase scalability and flexibility, and improve customer’s experiences.

Greater Operational Efficiency

RPA allows a business to simplify works and achieve more with less time and effort whilst freeing the resources to focus more on meaningful and value-added work. On average, the RPA robot can perform business activities twice as fast as human can at around 65% lower cost. It consistently works round the clock without requiring either breaks or manual intervention, thereby significantly increasing the throughput and reducing the potential number of human errors. Moreover, RPA technology ensures full compliance with process design and business requirements.

Increased Scalability and Flexibility

RPA tools can be instantaneously and flexibly scaled up or down across business units or geographical areas to timely correspond with the ever-changing demands of the business to support growth without subjecting to human resource constraints.

Improved Customer Experience

With near real-time processing speed, consistent execution, and 100% accuracy, RPA enables faster and precise customer order fulfilment with guaranteed consistency. It ultimately creates better customer experiences and induces higher customer loyalty, giving the business a competitive advantage over its competitors in the highly competitive market

How Does RPA work?

RPA is a rather young innovation that only recently entered its growth phase, so there is not yet a standardized procedure or framework developed. However, when examining the RPA implementations already completed, you will notice that they all roughly follow the same pattern and contain the same major components. And although, RPA is a tailor-made process, we can identify three major phases: planning, implementation and monitoring.

The first step is to identify which processes are good candidates for RPA. Identifying the right candidates is crucial for the further success of the automation process and can be quite hard. In the majority of instances, a bottom-up approach is used to identify the candidates. That is, managers and employees closest to the operational process flows will recognize potential processes that will benefit from automation. The next step is to assess the impact that this automation will have on the company. By ranking the candidates based on their value adding potential, we can make a selection of one or more processes, depending on the budget, time frame and resources. Once the best candidates are selected, it is recommended to do a gap analysis and change assessment. The gap analysis allows us to analyze the current situation and the future state that we want to reach, along with the tasks that we need to complete to close this gap. Through a change assessment we can identify the changes we will have to make to the current situation prior to the implementation to reach our goals and the constraints that could possibly cause problems along the way. In the last step of the planning phase, the company needs to consider using external consultants or RPA vendors if they do not have sufficient in-house resources or knowledge.

Once the candidates are identified and all planning and preparation is done, the company can start building the actual robots. These software robots are trained algorithms that are capable of mimicking the behavior of humans in the way they interact with the user interfaces. The algorithms are called ‘trained’ algorithms in that they are designed to follow methodical instructions and simple conditional logic. This means that the robots can replicate human behavior, based on the rules and instructions they receive. It also means that these robots are still ‘dumb’, in that they can do exactly what you ask them, but they cannot learn by themselves or replicate human reasoning. That is why they are best suited for tasks that are repetitive, consistent and rule-based. The best way to look at RPA is by comparing it to the robots used in industrial manufacturing.

The final phase in the RPA development process is monitoring and evaluation. The purpose of this phase is to define performance measures and use the data collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the RPA solution in relation to the value it brings. The company should work with the RPA vendors or consultants to determine and collect the measures that will best reflect the performance of the solution. Performance may be assessed through KPI’s, aligned with other measures, goals and objectives, process performance targets or tests. By evaluating the solution, the company can determine if they have reached their initial goal or if they should add some modifications to the RPA processes to improve or enhance the solution. If the objectives of the company are not met, it is important that they understand the factors that create the difference between potential and actual value, which in turn should allow them to recommend a course of action to align them. This final phase is an ongoing practice that should allow the company to benefit from the RPA process in a durable and consistent way.