Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is no longer a stranger term for those who are acquainted with the developments that are taking place in the world of business and technology. RPA basically refers to a software technology in which software robots perform certain routine and repetitive tasks and operational activities (which are ordinarily executed by human employees) by working on computer-based and UI-operable business information and communication systems.

Going a step ahead, in this article, we’ll delve deeper into certain relevant aspects of implementing RPA in business enterprises.

Potential benefits of RPA

Robotic automation of business processes can provide a competitive and superlative edge to business enterprises. Some of the potential benefits of RPA in business management are depicted in the diagram below. The scope of RPA can extend to other functions as well such as marketing, analytics, supply chain management etc.
Important considerations before implementing RPA in a business enterprise

Why automate business processes?

With the knowledge of the potential benefits which can arise from the implementation of RPA, it is not very difficult to understand why RPA is emerging as a highly sought-after technology. But still, it is important for a business enterprise to explicitly state the reasons for choosing robotic automation of business processes. Simultaneously, this also leads to spotting of the areas where RPA can be implemented in a business entity. Knowing why automation is required and where it can be implemented is an ideal place to start in heading towards RPA.

There could various compelling reasons like higher productivity, cost reductions, improved efficiency, resource optimization, reducing the complexities of managing HR functions, improved customer service, better compliance etc which might attract businesses to go for RPA.

This will also lead businesses to spot the processes and operational activities which they seek to automate.

For example, a retail division of a telecom service provider may receive thousands of new connection applications every day. After necessary verifications, statutory compliances and successful subscription/registration, the content in these applications have to be entered into the customer database of the company. This could be a tedious and voluminous task for the back-office and RPA can play a productive and efficient role in such data entry processes while saving FTE hours.

Automation maturity, target level of automation and going about the right solution

Once the broad objectives of automation and the areas of RPA implementation are clearly identified and established, it becomes imperative for a business enterprise to ascertain its present automation maturity, target level of automation, if the desired RPA solution is/could be made available and whether it could fulfill the identified needs and objectives of automation. There is a crowd of RPA solutions available in the market. But before that, it is critical for a business enterprise to ascertain where it seeks to position itself in the (RPA) automation hierarchy vis-à-vis its automation needs and objectives.

After knowing its target level of automation and specific automation requirements, it becomes easier to find the right solutions and narrow in on identifying the potential vendors.

Projected performance of the potential RPA solutions

After identifying the potential RPA solutions emerges the need to assess the projected performance of each of these solutions under a set of given conditions/environment and ascertain how close each one of them can get to the desired results.

The main objective at this stage is to identify the automation solution(s) that can get closest to successfully executing the targeted operation/operational activity.

For example, a telecom service provider may seek to automate a particular CRM operation of promoting high-value internet packs to its existing customers. Let us assume that this operation is presently carried out by human employees. Some of the automation requirements would include validating customer subscription status, capturing his internet usage data from the internal database, assess his internet usage patterns and if he qualifies, the RPA software robot would send a promotional notification to the customer informing him about the higher-value internet packs.

But, if the automation software is not equipped to consider the parameter of the trend in the volume of the unused data balance (out of the total data balance allotted) at the end of the validity period of the internet pack subscribed by the customer, the company may end up sending promotional notifications also to customers who might not be interested in moving to higher packs especially when their usage consistently stays within the range of the existing pack both in terms of data balance and validity.

Such a situation may call for human involvement but it may go against the very objective of opting to go for automation. There could be possible modifications in the concerned software program.

Impact of RPA implementation on other business processes

Till now, we have mostly addressed the operational aspects of the automation solutions. There is also a need to evaluate in advance the impact of implementing an RPA solution vis-à-vis the priorities of, compatibility with and necessary alignments in, other business processes such as finance, HR, IT, marketing etc and the external business environment. A possible impact scenario of RPA implementation on other business processes is depicted in the diagram below.

The idea of robotic automation of business processes is not old. But the advent of software robots is an important landmark in mankind’s gradual shift towards a more productive, more efficient virtual workforce that can carry out the routine, repetitive and mundane human tasks. Automation can leave scope for better utilization of the limited resources available to business enterprises in value-addition activities the benefits of which could eventually be passed on the customers, employees, and society as a whole. But before jumping on the bandwagon of automation it is important for business enterprises to have a clear understanding of the RPA paradigm and build a solid plan and a roadmap for RPA implementation followed up with reviews and adjustments at necessary intervals.

Disclaimer: The above content/publication is intended only to provide a general overview and is not to be used as a basis for the exercise of any business or professional judgment.

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Source: ICO Press Release