You may already be using RPA, but are you missing out on something?

 

Your time, after all, should be spent on employing your intelligence, experience, and expertise towards the betterment of the company, not in running repetitive tasks that don’t need the mental acuity you are capable of.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve already explored how robotic process automation has evolved from being a simplistic automating tool to the sophisticated, self-learning system companies are scrambling to hook up their offices to these days. Recent advancements in fields such as processing power, machine learning, connectivity, and artificial intelligence have all led to new benchmarks for what an RPA should be doing for you, and it’s no longer necessary to employ a large number of bots to get your work done. It’s not how many bots you use, but how you use them, that will make a difference to your organization.

 

Here are a few questions that will help you determine if you are getting bang for the buck (and the bot) with your RPA implementation.

Are you clear about what you want from robotic process automation in your organization?

For any transformation to succeed in an organization, there must be clarity of thought and purpose driving it. While there has to be an extensive preparatory period when inputs are sought from all stakeholders, there should rarely be an occasion to second guess a decision once it is made. Naturally, before signing on for RPA, you must be convinced yourself that your organization has enough data and processes to make it a worthwhile effort.

Despite being a relatively new concept, there are plenty of RPA variants out there for you to choose from. In most cases, there will also be compromises between your wish-list and what you can realistically get for the budget you are given. For instance, do you want a mature solution that works well with legacy enterprise systems but may not cope well with some of the newer ones, or do you want a developing solution that will eventually be compatible with all your systems, but not for the immediate future? Perhaps vendor A offers brilliant modules for finance but sub-optimal ones for sales, while vendor B might be offering middling, yet stable modules for both finance and sales.

While the very structure of RPA lends itself to flexibility and scalability, a steady vision is an essential requirement for success. You may not be able to switch your requirements from rule-based bots to intelligent bots without throwing your whole plan up in the air.

Are you freeing up human resources enough to boost their productivity?

One of the most important expectations out of RPA is that employees should feel more productive and useful by eliminating the repetitive, low-intellect tasks they were expected to do. Automation should result in a visibly positive impact on these employees’ contributions to the organization. These can be new initiatives, faster turnarounds, insightful contribution to the business, taking on more responsibilities, error-free execution of work and so on.

A typical trap companies fall into is, to implement RPA and then dedicate the employees, who were previously assigned the same tasks, to verifying the output. That is just replacing drudgery of one kind with another. Instead, the same employees can be trained to do

sample testing from time to time – just to reassure all stakeholders that the bots are getting it right – even as they create more use-cases for RPA.

Are you employing all the different modules in your RPA solution?

Most of the experienced vendors of RPA solutions offer end-to-end packages that cover every module an enterprise might need. It doesn’t make sense for an organization to use only a part of the RPA stack and let the other modules sit idle.

If you are not employing all the modules you can in RPA, that right there is where you can derive greater value for your organization. Identify more resources and processes where work can be automated and see how high your utilization of the RPA stack can be.

Are you future-proof?

When you upgrade your underlying enterprise system, there is always the risk of the new version being rendered inaccessible to your bots. This is especially true when there are security updates or patches that flag bots as false-positive threats. Even changes in layout/interfaces, such as the repositioning of two similar fields of the same type (for instance, tax percentage and discount percentage) might require a slight reconfiguration of the bot.

If you have not future-proofed your automation process, chances are that any change to the company’s enterprise systems can have unintended consequences that could even result in lost productive time. Future-proofing is not as complicated as it sounds, though. It can be managed quite easily with before-and-after mapping exercises that help the bots find the information that they are looking for without encountering an exception.

Are you checking off all these benefits?

Here’s a quick checklist that tells you whether you are getting everything else that you need out of RPA for your organization:

  • The flexibility that does not need programming knowledge
  • Empowered employees who can run queries on their own
  • Zero error rates
  • Cost savings through better use of time, retraining redundant resources and fewer limited-skillset full-time employees
  • Better SLA forecasting and adherence
  • Better record keeping
  • Faster internal and external resolutions
  • Reduced paper consumption
  • Always-on connectivity and usability
  • Compliance – conversion, adherence, and validation

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