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How to determine if your company needs to invest in RPA?

 

As the demand for new software applications becomes larger and more complex, there’s a perpetual need to seek efficiency improvements and full integration between enterprise systems. At this point of convergence, we can find Robotic Process Automation, a solution that to this day, continues to expand its footprint, with no sign of stopping.

The Robotic Process Automation market is one of the strongest and fastest-growing markets in the enterprise software segment, with Gartner estimating that global Robotic Process Automation software revenue reached $1.89 billion at the end of 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020.

Why is Robotic Process Automation in such high demand? Well, we’d be willing to bet good money there aren’t a lot of enterprises out there who wouldn’t love to tap into effective means to improve process quality, speed, productivity, and cost efficiencies with a solution that can automate repetitive, routine tasks. This is exactly what Robotic Process Automation promises to achieve.

After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in early 2020, one of the things in the minds of organizations was how to save money to survive yet be able to meet modern business demands. By investing in Robotic Process Automation software, organizations were able to move forward with their digital transformation and optimization initiatives. In more ways than one, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of Robotic Process Automation, a trend that we’ll continue to see in the IT industry. 

In fact, Gartner's research also shows that 90% of large organizations globally will have adopted Robotic Process Automation in some shape or form in 2022 as everyone looks for ways to digitally empower critical business processes with two things in mind: scalability and resiliency.

In this blog post, we’ll be covering how to determine if your company needs to take concrete action and step into the world of RPA to improve business processes.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a productivity tool that enables users to set up scripts or bots that trigger unique keystrokes in an automated workflow. These scripts or bots are used to emulate or mimic transactional steps that fit a specific process, whether for business or IT purposes. Think of RPA as the automation enabler that can manipulate data, trigger responses, or execute transactions automatically.

What are RPA benefits?

Most RPA solutions are augmenting their automation features with elements that range from intelligent document processing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, low code development, complex workflow orchestration, and process discovery, to name a few.

As RPA solutions evolve, your organization needs to gauge the benefits of robotic process automation that will be best for your unique business needs.  Some of the most high-profile RPA benefits include:

  • Improved productivity. RPA scripts or bots do wonders in accelerating end-to-end workflows to get more work done via independent processes. For example, in document-intensive industries like financial services, the public sector, or insurance, RPA scripts can process data much faster than any human could.
  • Superior accuracy. RPA scripts or bots don’t make mistakes unless the human elements involved in their development are flawed. RPA gives industries like RPA in healthcare, RPA in finance, retail, and more, the ability to tap into the most reliable solution out there, bots, to achieve higher efficiency and meet the most strict compliance standards
  • Delivery speed. Automating processes makes them inherently faster. By removing the human element from the equation, automated workflows have no time constraint and can run as long as necessary without growing tired or starting making mistakes as a human would.
  • Cross-platform integration. Nowadays, being application-agnostic helps avoid upgrades or the replacement of existing systems for RPA to work. RPA bots help businesses say goodbye to tech siloes as it connects across all software tools regardless of department, role, or function. The results? All-around efficiencies and a highly-collaborative environment where the true value is in human capital investment. 
  • Cost-effectiveness & RPA ROI. RPA solutions offer code-free interfaces where virtually anyone is capable of creating a bot and start driving higher ROI. Employees stand to gain a significant amount of time back each day that is typically wasted on routine administrative tasks. Automation is critical for error-free, compliant process execution.
  • Customer experience. Attended RPA bots help improve the way service agents interact with customers as they take care of most of the effort, leading to a reduction in call handling time and customer experience improvements.
  • Artificial intelligence capabilities. A match made in technology heaven, RPA and artificial intelligence boost automation and take it to its highest potential. Intelligent automation helps give meaning to unstructured data and procure it in a way that makes it valuable and easy to understand for bots to process.
  • Scalability. A favorite for organizations, being able to scale up or down as desired is crucial to give elasticity, flexibility, and responsiveness to companies that are constantly facing changing environments and uncertain times. With RPA, companies can handle any volume of workload, planned or unplanned, in a simple, intuitive, and hassle-free way.

Types of automation services

The RPA market is rapidly growing, with plenty of solutions evolving their RPA services thanks to increased competition and investment. Nowadays, thanks to the many innovations made in the RPA field, bots come in many shapes and forms, ensuring clients can work with any application the way they would interact with people, naturally. In that sense, bots fall into different categories which include attended, unattended, and hybrid RPA. Let’s explore each one.

  • Attended. Similar to virtual assistants, attended RPA bots help users carry out their day-to-day tasks to enhance productivity. It’s typically used to assist with front-office tasks, engaging both teams and employees with triggers that prompt help and coordination across internal resources. Attended RPA bots are on standby whenever a user needs them and can run on workstations, public and private servers, or in the cloud.  Some of the key benefits of using attended bots include increased productivity, reduced average call handle time, superior customer experience, and adherence to compliance standards.
  • Unattended. Running automation engineering services that are independent, unattended RPA bots helps businesses automate end-to-end processes where they carry out the entire process with no external help. Unattended bots are typically used in back-office processes at scale by working independently and following rules-based processes until they are deemed complete. Either triggered or as part of a preset schedule, unattended bots follow logic workflows on workstations, public and private servers, and in the cloud. Some of the key benefits of using unattended bots include reduced operating costs, increased productivity, error elimination, freeing up employees from routine work, and superior compliance.
  • Hybrid. Hybrid RPA bots combine both attended and unattended RPA to transfer workloads between humans and robots, either automatically or as triggered by a human, working on simultaneous tasks. This jump between humans and robots works well for processes where the task involves both structured and unstructured data, key decision-making phases, and multiple available outcomes can be generated. Plenty of times, judgment calls need to be made with a specific context, which is where creative thinking, problem-solving, and innovation come into play.

RPA key characteristics for business automation processes

By 2025, the potential economic impact of knowledge work automation is expected to range between $5-7 trillion. While RPA is still somewhat limited if we think of the endless possibilities it offers, there are a number of key characteristics that bridge the gap between RPA and business processes.

Knowing that employees spend between 10% to 25% of their time on repetitive computer tasks, next, we highlight the main characteristics that are helpful for professional services automation:

  • Process Execution. Robots don’t need breaks, rest, make mistakes, get sick, or need a vacation. In principle, they are the perfect solution to run processes non-stop, working faster and with high accuracy levels to execute volumes of work in less time than a human would. Efficiency improvements in process execution increase the organization’s capacity to complete work and get more done.
  • User-Interface Interaction. RPA bots are designed to mimic or emulate human interactions in a user interface setting, such as plugging data into a metadata field, making a cursor move from one place to the next, pushing a button, and more. Bot scripts can include conditions and rules to fully emulate natural behavior.
  • High Volume Data Handling. RPA bots can handle massive volumes of data without breaking a sweat.
  • Learning Capability. Advanced RPA scripts or bots are capable of employing machine learning algorithms that make it natural to learn and get better each time it interacts with a process or request.

Key Indicators of Necessity of RPA for companies

RPA initiatives can sometimes fail because app leaders fail to select the right use cases for automation. In a bid to automate as much as possible, some organizations choose unstable, complex, or processes with too many dependencies, which sets RPA for failure.

RPA democratizes integration and automation which increases adoption, but the true challenge lies in identifying and prioritizing the best-suited use cases for automation. Otherwise, if your organization ends up choosing the wrong use case, it would lead to delayed project timelines and long-term increased costs.

Detecting a clear need for RPA in your mission-critical tasks can be daunting, especially as the process requires deep business process knowledge and technical expertise, but you’ll be glad once the exercise is complete so you can assertively decide what to automate so key areas of your business can instead focus on strategic tasks. Process and application leaders responsible for evaluating RPA necessities should:

  • Shortlist several RPA solutions to prioritize offerings that meet the short-term, long-term, and tactical needs of RPA in their development teams.
  • Evaluate RPA solutions based on complementary capabilities like process mining, workflow orchestration, machine learning, and more.
  • Achieve RPA scalability and effective adoption via cloud-based RPA solutions that reduce the total cost of ownership and infrastructure barriers.

Next, we’ll share four key parameters to evaluate use cases against to determine the most promising ones for RPA:

  1. Stability

    Prioritize processes that are structured, stable, likely to have few changes in the near future, likely to have few exceptions and apply to few scenarios, rule-based, and without subjective decision-making. Key questions to ask during the use case evaluation:

    • Is the process stable?
    • Is the process standardized?
    • Is the process routine?
    • Is the process predictable?
    • Will the process perform the same task today, tomorrow, or even a year from now?
    • Will the process be impacted with major changes soon?
    • Does the process involve subjective decision-making?
    • Does the process have a process map?
  2. Scalability

    Maximize your RPA benefits by choosing high-volume use cases that are standardized. Key questions to ask during the use case evaluation:

    • Is the process isolated?
    • Is the process part of an enterprise-wide effort?
    • Will automating the process lead to cost savings?
    • Will automating the process lead to increased revenue?
    • Will automating the process help avoid risks?
    • Will the volume of the process transactions or requests be high enough to the point where automation will be beneficial?
    • Does the process involve subjective decision-making?
    • What is the frequency of transactions or requests?
  3. Scope

    Choose use cases that enable you to be tactical for future-proofing adn that it can act as the base of your RPA roadmap. Key questions to ask during the use case evaluation:

    • Is the process granular enough?
    • Is the process logical?
    • Can the process be broken down into different segments?
  4. Complexity

    Choose a process that is simple with no more than twenty process steps, no more than three application platforms the bot or script will have to interact with, and with a UI that does not change very often, according to best practices. Key questions to ask during the use case evaluation:

    • On a scale of 1 to 10, how complex is the process?
    • How many logic steps are involved in the process?
    • How many different platforms or applications are involved in the process?
    • What are the number of steps in the process?
    • Will the UI or platform change as the RPA bot or script interacts with them?
    • Is the process performed in a virtual desktop environment?
    • Does the process involve complicated tasks like image scraping?
    • Does the process have a test environment?

Of course, these broad questions can be even more specific when looking at a specific business process, for example finance and accounting, or procurement. When evaluating indicators and necessities that point to RPA, organizations should focus on three key perspectives:

  1. Value. Take a hard look at the financial and strategic value automation will bring to your process. Cost benefits usually come from automating repetitive and labor-intensive processes, which will help you determine the value of leveraging RPA.
  2. Risk. Adopting a new technology always comes with an inherent set of risks that you need to evaluate, but pertaining to your specific processes, you should focus on determining how risky it is to automate a process to understand its dependencies and outputs. Risks can include regulatory compliance, stability, customer experience, and more, which should all be properly addressed.
  3. Eligibility. Not every process is meant to be automated, and that’s okay. It’s important that you detect and define just how much automation can be achieved in a specific process to then decide if it’s the right route to take. There’s specific criteria that needs to be considered including scalability, transaction volume, digitization, system dependencies, and more, all of which will help you shed light on how eligible a process is for RPA.

Through the lens of these perspectives, you have a better vantage point to decide whether a process is fit for RPA or not, but, how do you go about detecting these RPA necessities in the first place? As the RPA market is expected to mature and consolidate in the next couple of years, there are several use cases for RPA that add value to modern enterprises:

  • User interface automation. Automate tasks that involve data transcription between applications where no back-end integration or API is available.
  • Citizen automation. Citizen developers can build automation for businesses scripts with low code platforms, guided navigation, and easy workflow design.
  • Document processing. Automate the processing of structured and unstructured data for bot usage by extracting data and standardizing it into a structured format.
  • Headless bots. Composable, reusable, and serverless workload automation workflow orchestration exposed via APIs and consumed by bots or apps.

All in all, you need to think about RPA as a facilitator of simplicity in your processes. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from business tech history is that complex systems and processes have a higher failure rate, which is why many are looking at RPA and AI with loving eyes. RPA is a transformational technology that can improve business efficiencies and profitability by removing technical complexity out of process equations.

By automating repetitive, rules-based, stable, and manual processes, companies can instead focus on more strategic goals and objectives. RPA mimics human interactions, follows specified workflows, performs routine tasks, and re-assigns relevant tasks to higher-value workloads so they are handled by the correct parties. More so than offering workload reduction, you need to think of RPA as a fast-track to improve data and process quality, eliminate human errors, and increase compliance.

Some of the most prominent industries that benefit from the use of RPA include banking and financial services, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and telecom. For example, McKinsey’s report “A Future That Works”, found that 60% of manufacturing tasks can have RPA applied to streamline processes, 43% of banking, financial services, and insurance processes stand to benefit from RPA, and 36% of healthcare and social services activities also can benefit from automation.

In that same report, it was also discovered that more than 75% of transactional operations can be automated, with 40% of reporting, planning, and strategic work tasks can be automated.

Some good examples of industries benefitting from RPA include:

  1. Thermo Fisher Scientific cut invoice processing time by 70% for 824K documents processed annually.
  2. Google improves service ticket processing times by 10x by using intelligent automation in Google Cloud Platform.
  3. Telpark reconciled 70% of items with automation.
  4. Mindtree achieved 100% accuracy using RPA.
  5. Pfizer scaled its RPA capabilities to save 500K hours to employees, be 88% faster selecting clinical trial data processing, and reduce 35% of time to process product claim validations.
  6. JLT India reduced costs while increasing productivity by 350% with RPA robots.
  7. Riksbyggen, Swedish property organization, saved 30K man hours annually thanks to RPA.
  8. Aflac simplified and automated email processing of 3000+ emails a week with RPA adoption.
  9. Dell leverages RPA to boost enterprise HR productivity with Workday by up to 85%.

RPA tools

In the last few years, the industry went from a handful of solutions to 50 new market entrants including Appian, Hyland, IBM, Microsoft, Pegasystems, SAP, ServiceNow, and more. Here you'll find some of the most used RPA tools for enterprises:

  1. UiPath. Fit for both on-premises and cloud-based solutions, UiPath is well-known for being user-friendly yet offering robust capabilities like bank-grade security via encryption, credentials, and authentication. UiPath is favored by the likes of Nasa, Google, Equifax, DHL, and more. UiPath empowers users to discover automation opportunities, build automated workflows, leverage drag-and-drop AI and ready-to-use templates, and access the governance, scalability, and flexibility modern apps require.
  2. Blue Prism. With a full range of core capabilities, Blue Prism is a robotic automation tool that works best for those with programming skills seeking an easy-to-use multi-environment deployment and automation platform. Blue Prism is platform-independent, quick to execute, and safe. Blue Prism’s code-free RPA, deployed using a Robotic Operating Model, helps businesses scale, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and augment new responsibilities.
  3. Automation Anywhere. Automation Anywhere offers comprehensive business automation software tools that let users build bots very easily. Thanks to its Automation 360 platform, Automation Anywhere offers a cloud-native, AI-powered, web-based platform for end-to-end automation.
  4. Appian. Appian lets users automate full-fledged business processes without having to write a single line of code. Thanks to its robust capabilities to automate repetitive and routine tasks, Appian offers Appian RPA, IDP, AI, business rules, and more, giving you the right solution for the right use case. Appian is multi-environment and offers no-code integration to easily orchestrate data, systems, web services, and AI without complex coding.
  5. Pega. An RPA tool that offers attended and unattended RPA, auto-balancing, email bots, x-ray vision, and workforce intelligence for multiple environments including Windows, Linux, and Mac. Pega is favored by clients like Siemens, Cisco, and HSBC thanks to its added capabilities like low code app factory, chatbots, virtual assistants, AI-powered decision-making, and text analytics. Pega is a pioneer in automating repetitive work, bridging gaps between systems, and speeding up processes to eliminate legacy debt.

Summary

RPA and hyper-automation are key trends that set the stage for a more automated workplace. The Robotic Process Automation software market's rapid evolution and growth only highlight the all-around need to automate routine tasks and reallocate those efforts and investments into more strategic goals.

In summary, RPA helps deliver measurable benefits that directly translate into cost reduction, improved accuracy, high-speed delivery, but most of all, it frees up humans from repetitive work so they focus on what truly matters: solving problems, improving processes, conducting analytics exercises, build customer-centric strategies, and more, all of which add essential value to the organization and reflect in new revenue opportunities.

If you are on the fence about investing in RPA, this is your sign to go for it. Our Svitla Systems RPA experts are well-equipped in different RPA technologies, making it easy for you to leverage all the benefits of RPA it has to offer quickly and efficiently, all while you focus on scaling your operations.

With key know-how in some of the most prominent RPA software solutions, our experts can walk with you from beginning to end in your RPA journey, maximizing the value of your business operations and empowering you to leverage the capabilities of smart technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to position your business to respond better to the modern business demands of a world that is increasingly demanding more content at a greater speed.

by Svitla Team
July 11, 2022

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