In a recent post, we covered the top strategies and platforms for Digital Transformation success in which Robotic Process Automation (RPA) was one of the platforms highlighted. RPA typically involves software workflows or scripts that help simplify and streamline business processes by automating high-volume, repetitive, multi-step tasks. A growing number of enterprises are recognizing its benefits beyond mere cost reduction and enhanced productivity. Other benefits to note include increased speed and flexibility, reduced cycle time, as well as higher accuracy and consistency in operations.
Organizations worldwide are investing in innovative and disruptive technologies like Robotic Process automation (RPA) to drive optimization and refocus their critical resources on tasks that drive revenue growth and innovation. When used in conjunction with Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), RPA can create an application that functions like the human brain with the capability to adapt, evaluate, and perform cognitive tasks by identifying data or process flow, analyzing outcomes at various decision points and coming to conclusions based on that data. It can be further empowered by emotional intelligence to create a huge impact in the customer service and creative areas of the business.
The potential for RPA is wide with use cases for optimizing business functions across the organization. Let's explore 4 critical business functions and use cases for incorporating RPA for powerful benefits:
- Sales and Business Development: The number one goal for sales teams is to exceed revenue targets quarter over quarter. This is accomplished through building a good network, generating and converting leads and closing deals. A recent report from Forbes suggests "Nearly two-thirds (64.8%) of reps' time, on average, is spent in non-revenue-generating activities, leaving only 35.2% for functions related to selling." Sales personnel are spending more and more time on administrative or operational tasks including internal coordination and communication, market research, CRM updates, reporting, follow-ups, and more. RPA can be a very effective tool to help automate activities including:
- Market/ Client Research to improve sales life-cycle
- Automated communication via Chat, Emails and Calls
- Client Information Management, Sales Conversions
- Order Processing
- Revenue Management etc.
Utilizing RPA reduces time consuming research and repetitive tasks, allowing more time for revenue generation activities. It runs 24x7, enabling teams to seize every opportunity irrespective of the time zone.
A recent client implemented RPA into their sales process to collect client's profiles and preferences to uncover what time they are most likely to be available, what medium they prefer, what social platforms they gravitate towards, and more. These insights have helped save a significant number of hours by communicating with their clients at the optimum time on the best platform for enhanced client engagement and service.
- Finance: Robotic Process Automation has emerged as a valuable tool for financial operations which requires precision in workflow processes. Compared to humans, RPA can complete tasks faster and more accurately, which manages risk and and also improves financial compliance. Sample finance functions that can be automated via Robotic Process Automation include:
- Financial Analysis
- Expense Management
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Ongoing P&L Tracking
- Invoice and Bank Statement Reconciliation
- Data Management
Finance is involved at both the micro as well as macro level of any business and RPA can be a powerful tool to help in optimizing processes and continuous improvement. In addition, RPA logs which are created when tasks are performed can then be analyzed over time to make better predictions and improve decision making.
- Human Resources and Administration: The Human Resources function has a staggering amount of paperwork. From recruitment and on-boarding, to reviews, payroll and more- there can be a constant pile of administration. To control this paperwork, some organizations have deployed off-the-shelf or custom developed applications to digitize processes to some extent. RPA has a lot of potential in the HR space to automate high-volume, repetitive operational tasks for improved response time, consistency and productivity. As an example, SHRM* cited in an article that at Ernst and Young (EY), the London-based tax, transaction and advisory services company, there are 822 internal RPA bots in production or development, with 23 of those being used in HR. Following are just a few of the HR related tasks that can be optimized and managed by RPA:
- Recruitment and On-Boarding
- Data Management and Maintenance
- Payroll & Expense Management
- Employee Management
- Infrastructure Maintenance Schedules
- Attendance Management
With the somewhat mundane activities automated through RPA, critical team members can now focus their time and effort on improving the employee experience. Rapidly expanding companies with higher hiring frequency should consider using RPA for a paperless, systematic and stress-free employee life cycle. Another article on SHRM* highlighted a Deloitte survey that found "Almost half of HR global shared services executives believe RPA will deliver 10 to 20 percent savings to their businesses, with 9 percent expecting a savings of 40 percent or more". Organizations that have completed a RPA implementation are already reaping the benefits of a more productive and happier workforce.
- Information Technology: Information technology team is the lynch-pin of an organization, providing the platforms and toolsets the organization needs to service their clients with a relentless focus on enhancing service quality, reducing risk and controlling costs. RPA can play a vital role in streamlining critical Information Technology (IT) operations, processes and support via end-to-end automation to meet these goals. As an example, RPA can connect seamlessly with diverse legacy systems like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Management Information Systems (MIS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and more for better monitoring 24x7 or to help manage upgrades. With the combination of RPA and monitoring systems, IT teams can keep a close watch on various infrastructure parameters and take preventive actions, initiate notifications or workflows, when a threat is identified at any given point in time. RPA reduces potential for human error and response time thereby improving the overall quality of support offered by the IT team. Here are a few areas where RPA can help IT teams:
- IT Helpdesk Operations
- Software Installations
- System Upgrades
- Monitor Overall IT Infrastructure
- Automate Application Testing
- Maintain Server and Application Security
- Detect Potential Technical Threats
- Data Migration
- Periodic Analysis, Reporting and Dissemination
- Email Notifications, Phone Calls and or Security notifications
Implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA has gained adoption across the above organizational functions in diverse industry sectors. However, RPA is not practical in every use case. RPA provides the most value in instances where business processes involve one or more of the following:
- Repetitive Steps
- Specific Frequency or Triggers
- Defined Technique
- Fixed Flow of Actions
- Dependent on Specific Rules
RPA has become one of the most adopted digital transformation strategies this year. Researchers at Hadoop* estimate that the potential savings that companies will experience with RPA by 2025 is between $5 trillion to $7 trillion.
If you would like to dive into how RPA can play a powerful role in your organization or department, connect with us.