Right at the start of an RPA programme, there is a need to analyse the business requirements, forecasting all the possible scenarios, future challenges for adaptations or scalabilities.
Key questions to ask during this process are:
1. How many members of staff use a computer to serve customers or process data?
Automated processes can help businesses be more efficient at allocating and utilising their human resource (FTE- Full Time Equivalent).
Automations can be used to save anywhere between a few seconds per process or the entire duration of it.
Consider two scenarios where a robot:
- … saving 10% of the time for 50 members of staff each, which equates to 5 FTEs worth of saving.
- … saving 10% of time for 5 members of staff each, resulting in, relatively low FTE saving; based upon the cost of development vs. cost-benefit analysis.
Obviously, the former gives a better return on investment (ROI) and makes more economical sense, while the later should be avoided unless it gives some other intangible benefits like risk reductions or enhanced levels of customer service.
2. What is the amount of data to process and number of decisions to make?
Robots love rule-driven data processing, while humans often do not. On the other side,human input in emotion-based decision making is irreplaceable.
The business process should be looked at from a robot’s perspective. If a given process has plenty of rule-based extracting or populating data between systems (for example updating customer records), there is a clear an opportunity to automate it.
In some cases, a human emotional decision making is absolutely required (for example responding to a customer complaint), so we can look at automations concentrating on the initial steps like gathering evidence (previous communications, errors in records, financial loss or fraud occurrence as examples), creating a client file, before handing over the final step to a human, for mitigation.
3. What is the amount of data to process and number of decisions to make?
An error in high risk processes like moving money between accounts, contacting customers or maintaining customer records can lead to major consequences like monetary or reputational damage.
It is human nature to make some errors, while robots offer a consistency of service, providing the same level of accuracy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
A perfectly coded, tested and implemented robot, follows the same rules time and time again without any error while maintaining entire audit history and producing on-demand reports of the progress.
In most cases, these intangible benefits are worth more than the FTE savings, to the organisation, and should be prioritised as a key benefit of robotic automations.
4. What motivates staff within the organisation?
Often, business areas, within an organisation, which have a core job role of inputting data between systems, resulting in mundane, repetitive tasks and uninspiring roles, result in low levels of job satisfaction, moral and lead to high levels of staff turnover.
Correctly implemented automations with a clear aim of not replacing but empoweringand enhancing the work that human beings undertake, can improve the staff retention and team morale.
Cost of implementing RPA solutions
1. Scoping of the project
It is not advisable to automate any process exactly as it is done manually. There is always some opportunity to cut down on some steps like forwarding emails, updating excel sheets or authorising printouts, which would not be required post automation.
You would not want to exactly replicate your manual processes with your new robotic work-force. You will want to spend time reviewing all your processes and finding best ways to streamline the processes to automate, even before coding your first automation.
Several providers charge licensing fees for building robots using their automation studios and charge additional fees for using those robots on pay per use basis.
3. Process documentation
Before any development is started, it is crucial that the end-to-end process is reviewed and documented with the support of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).
This ensures all the steps, logic and exception paths have been analysed with the developer to assess the level of efforts and complexity. Although the development should be done in an agile manner, this provides a good starting point to deliver a usable/testable product.
4. Developer training and development time
Building a complex robot that can process a tremendous amount of data while connecting with multiple systems at the same time, is not a straightforward task. It requires problem solving developer skills.
If you build robots in-house, you will need to train your staff to use RPA platform software or hire highly trained software developers to custom-code the robots for you, incurring costs while not necessarily knowing the outcome.
Another resource hungry step in the journey to the successful RPA implementation is testing to ensure that the new automation is fit for purpose, error free, scalable and ready for launch. This will use valuable SME time to ensure the product meets their requirements.
There is also a need for the process owner who signs off the product and suggests any amendments, as we know the initial scoping rarely captures the entire process with all possible scenarios.
6. End-user Training
Once the robots are developed and ready to launch, there will be a need for HR Learning and Development teams to train the end-users on how to use them.
7. Maintenance of the automations
Finally, we need to factor in the cost of maintaining the solution and keeping it future proof, up to date with changing versions of Windows, Microsoft office and other third party systems like SAP, Salesforce and Backoffice, as examples.
Your core systems will update over time and you will need to ensure that adequate notice of these changes is obtained and communicated with the developer, to ensure that the developer can update/test the automations as required.
Scrum development methodology combined with extensive experience in developing custom coded RPA solutions, we at Agile Automations are changing the desktop RPA scene towards a more sustainable and reliable adaptation of RPA into the businesses.
Can your business benefit from such relentless commitment to perfection? Contact us to find out more!