What is RPA? Can your business benefit from its implementation?
Let’s review these two quotes about Robotic Process Automation:
“It’s worthwhile implementing [robotic process automation] even if you’re not going to reduce headcount, just so you can be more efficient, more scalable”.
Eric Liebross, Head of back-office optimization practice, Auxis.
“When you free people from the mundane and refocus them on essential tasks, you begin to leverage and expand human intellect, and automation technologies help you do that.”
Mihir Shukla, co-founder and CEO of Automation Anywhere.
So, how could Robotic Process Automation benefit your business?
Would you benefit from the scalability, efficiency, and error-free work or would it free your employees from mundane repetitive office tasks to focus them elsewhere to contribute human intellect to grow your business?
RPA would allow you to do both and much more.
RPA is divided into three use-cases; unattended bots, attended bots, and Hybrid bots.
Unattended RPA hinges on the concept of automation without human intervention. These robots work off an engineered script to run mundane, repetitive back-office tasks without variation or much human interaction. The automation is self-triggered, completed continuously in batch-mode, essentially 24/7/365, providing a graphical interface to document and highly automate existing processes. The best areas for the use of these unattended robotic process are:
- Finance and Accounting – automate loan processing, know your customer (KYC), automate AP/AR, general ledgers, report automation, and systems reconciliations.
- Human Resources– automate payroll, candidate sourcing, automate hiring processes, candidate onboarding, and employee record keeping.
- Procurement– automate invoice processing, requisitions to purchase orders, Bills of materials generations, quality reporting.
- Customer Service– automate call centers, manage claims, account balance queries, change of account information, open and close accounts, loading profiles, gathering data and customer contact mailings and mail.
- Sales – creating and deliver invoices, updating CRM, creating new customer onboarding, and other inbound or outbound marketing activities.
- Inventory and Supply Chain –product categorization, SKU update, and overall inventory management
- Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)– F&A, HR, Logistics, Support, Operations, Order Processing.
Not only could you reduce head-count, but these robots can be automated to run 24/7 with higher efficiency and error-free reporting, with scalability to adeptly two-step as your business grows while producing clear audit trails.
Attended Robotic Process Automation is a process whereby Robots reside at an employee’s desktop and are triggered by specific events, actions or commands that an employee engages within a specific workflow. They work in unison or alongside a human with limited direction. Attended bots are most useful for processes involving unstructured data in which the system learns from humans correcting and directing it.
Best examples of use-cases for attended RPA
- Call Centers– RPA automates the majority of the process before escalating the process to a human; retrieving customer data during customer calls.
- Customer Service Centers– automates back-office work before receiving human direction to complete the process.
- Order Fulfillment and Procurement – automates incoming Purchase Order, process order fulfillment, generate Sales Order, schedules installation, manages invoicing and collections.
Hybrid Robotic Process Automation is a combination of both attended and unattended robots working with and without human intervention on both scripted and coded platforms, allowing the robot and the employee to work on different tasks simultaneously, moving work back and forth between them. RPA systems can utilize computer vision capability integrated with AI to move from rule-based through cognitive learning to machine learning systems.
Hybrid RPA is especially useful when using both structured and unstructured data, with multiple variations and outcomes and key decision touch-points requiring judgment calls based on context and data available.
The best use cases for Hybrid RPA could be found in Healthcare, Pharma, Government, and Construction businesses.
But the biggest question remains, is RPA cost effective for all types of businesses? Or all sizes of businesses?.
Let’s examine a few 2018 published use cases:
De Krom, the 100 employees Dutch paving company, saw ROI in as little as three months. De Krom installed RPA in 2018 to manage an average of 100 work orders per week. 2 FTE employees working full-time to process these orders are now freed of this mundane back-office effort, doing more impactful work in Sales and assisting Project Managers (example of attended RPA)
- This resulted in 90% decreased human effort.
- 40 hours of employee time saved per week.
- ROI within 3 months.
- Work-orders were 100% error-free within 2 weeks of implementation.
With an average of 400 dogs added to their animal shelter every day, Houston’s BARC Foundation installed RPA to manage their animal Adoption website ((example of unattended RPA). The resulting automation allowed their employees and volunteers to focus on animal care and operations instead of back-office work.
- RPA scaled their adoption process from 1 minute per dog to ¼ second per dog.
- Automated licensing invoices.
- Processes renewal checks and payments.
- Automate locations of micro-chipped pet owners.
- Processes rabies tag renewals, fees and collections.
After installing RPA in 2018 to manage their 1.5 million incoming emails yearly, Holland Insurance Group in South Africa now has robots access and interpret all inbound emails, categorize and sort the emails and attachments contextually, and enter all data into relevant databases. Robots then interact with employees (example of attended RPA) to execute instructions and deliver completion certificates to clients. The results are staggering;
- 98 of emails are dealt with autonomously, 2000 hours a month in saved man-power
- 600% faster-processing speeds and responses
- 91% lower costs per transaction
- 89% error reduction and accelerating
AstraZeneca, the Pharmaceutical giant, installed CRPA (example of Cognitive RPA – Hybrid) in 2018 to tackle ‘adverse events reports’, reports of detrimental side effects in patients who have used a particular drug. AstraZeneca receives an average of 100,000 adverse event reports each year — many documenting minor ailments but some detailing serious illnesses. Before installing an RPA system for this purpose, AstraZeneca dealt with these reports manually, with members of the AstraZeneca patient safety team spending millions of hours every year personally administering whatever tasks were necessary to ensure patients’ adverse experiences were dealt with appropriately. Because individuals’ health is at stake, care and sensitivity are essential – not to mention the initiation of any adjustments that can be made to the drug – but certain routine administrative processes could be (and were) automated through the RPA platform. This RPA use-case is a considerable success, bolstering response rates from both health care professionals involved in drug trials and AstraZeneca staff.
As these use-cases illustrate, both SMB and Giant Pharma companies need to at least discuss and research the benefits of RPA technologies. With the average cost of an RPA robot between $12,000-$15,000 per year, the significant benefits of automation, and the ROI are well-within a reach and suitable for all size businesses.
Although, Robotic Process Automation has a wide range of use cases, not all use cases are applicable to the technology. To learn more about how RPA works, how to identify uses cases, and to download our RPA guide, press the button below.