Bots don’t take breaks… ever … and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a theme that will change the way we do business… forever. As blockchain will change the way we contract, so RPA will fundamentally change the way we deliver services as well as the type of people we hire. But what is RPA? What does it do, and how does it work?
RPA software sits on top of existing software and mimics the efforts of humans on instruction. It is particularly appropriate for replacing human activity in repetitive tasks; things like end-to-end processes in which subjective judgement is not required, or objective exception-type activities such as comparing quotes. Bots have certain unique advantages over humans, and will impact the workforce as the production line did in the industrial revolution. Bots do exactly as they are programmed to do, and they execute tasks faster than the human hand. Bots don’t make mistakes. They are inordinately scalable and can be switched on or off on command. Bot activity is also highly measurable, making it easier to drive continual improvement.
Implementing RPA into a business environment is remarkably easy. RPA implementations don’t involve the durations, analytical requirements or change impacts that traditional Business Process Re-engineering projects do. This is driven by the fact that they don’t require the complete overhaul of existing processes or implementation of new systems – they simply use what you already have – just better. They’re also easier to test and are well suited to agile project techniques. The theoretical benefit case can be assessed quickly, as can the outcomes of a Proof of Concept. Subsequent scaling is simpler with no laborious HR recruitment process getting in your way either.
5 tips to drive an RPA project
- Insist on a simple Proof of Concept- it shouldn’t take long to demonstrate how value can be created in your business, and most vendors will complete this for free.
- Make it easy on yourself, and less dependant on developers, by choosing a platform that is a business tool, not an IT tool.
- Keep it simple by focussing on business processes that are repetitive and rely on structured data by nature first, moving onto the more exciting opportunities in unstructured data later.
- Remember that RPA does not address the problem of work that is redundant or unnecessary and that should be stopped. There is still much value to be had in addressing this category of work.
- Drive quick change-cycles through incremental improvements in existing processes, and scale from there.
RPA is the first, easily accessible, step in leveraging Artificial Intelligence and cutting-edge technology, and it is well within the grasp of most businesses. With proven ROI, every business should be asking which of their processes could move to RPA.