In our previous blog, we covered the ways that an organisation can begin to prepare for the implementation of Robotic Process Automation to their workplace. However, many of us are still weighing the pros and cons of this new technology. Is it right for the company? Will it cause more harm than good? Will our employees adapt to it successfully?
There are plenty of risks and benefits to weigh up, so first build a business case for RPA that will convince key players in your organisation that the initial investment is worth the money and organisational change that it will require.
The challenge is that, as a relatively new technology, RPA hasn’t seen a great deal of successful or well documented case studies. It isn’t common practice yet. Whilst this means there’s high potential for competitive advantage, it’s also harder to gauge it’s long term effectiveness. For this reason it’s important to do your research.
It goes without saying that to make a real case, you need to point out where RPA can provide value to your organisation. Start by thinking departmentally. RPA excels at expediting tasks that require mundane, repetitive data entry, certain areas of the business are more likely to involve this kind of work i.e. admin. Whereas strategic and creative areas will have little to none.
Then, think about it in terms of your people. The main benefit of this new technology is it’s ability to create efficiency by saving employee time. So who exactly will save time? Talk to these employees to understand their responsibilities, conduct a survey to discover how much time each of them can save if certain tasks are automated. You might find for example that your HR team could save 30 hours a week, but your marketing team could only save 4 hours. It will become quickly clear which departments will benefit, and the data collected from your employees will be valuable in demonstrating this.
Next think about processes. What specific tasks need to be automated? Your employees have likely already told you. Here are some examples:
Employee on-boarding: Save HR time and resources by using RPA to create the necessary accounts and privileges to get new employees up and running ASAP.
Transfer data between applications: Boring and repetitive, swivel chair integration can be replaced with highly efficient automation.
Creating reports: bots can understand and report on data much faster than human beings.
Financial claims processing: Done by people, it’s prone to errors and eats away time. Bots don’t make human error.
Finally, technology. Put together a list of the software currently used across the departments that will be relevant. This will be useful later on, when it comes to choosing a RPA partner.
To make a well informed decision on whether to adopt RPA, you must consider the risk associated with it. As with any other kind of digital transformation, user adoption is the biggest pitfall. Whilst bots don’t have ‘users’ in the traditional sense, they do need to be supported and monitored for problems, ideally by an IT team. There will be training requirements for the group of people that will handle this. Awareness will become paramount to combat paranoia and confusion about the bots. Stakeholders need to understand that it is not as simple as ‘set up and go’.
Consider suggesting a trial period. Most suppliers will be happy to work with you to run a trial so that you can test the benefits of the technology and how it will affect you. Stakeholders will be more comfortable with making this technology investment if it’s benefits can be tested first hand.
There is also the matter of scalability and change. If your organisation is in a period of rapid growth, or if you are planning to overhaul your technology infrastructure in a big way, implementing RPA isn’t a good idea. The bots are engineered to complete certain tasks with familiar interfaces and will require re-engineering if you suddenly begin shifting and changing the systems around them. Unless you have in-house expertise, this will become expensive quickly. Wait for a period of relative stability before you begin your RPA project, to prevent them from becoming a burden.
No digital change is complete without a strategy in place to support it. To demonstrate RPA’s benefits to stakeholders, there must be a plan that considers the long term effect of your RPA implementation. Part of the business case should focus on how this value can be achieved, how automation can grow with the business and whether it will become part of a larger automation effort than can support advanced AI in the future.
Back to the the near future, the project should work alongside your current technology strategy, it can’t be shoe horned into the business – there is too much potential for conflict. Understand the technology changes that are planned for each relevant department and find a time period that will minimise disruption to business.
Perhaps most importantly, demonstrate where human resources can be redeployed. So your HR team has gained 30 hours, what are they going to do with them? How will the business benefit from all of this extra time? Well if there is no plan, they might not. It’s up to you to decide how the business manages these precious extra hours of productivity, but they can’t be wasted, they provide the ROI of this project. Make sure your stakeholders understand this.
Finally, highlight whether or not you plan to run the project internally or choose a partner to support you through requirements gathering, training and procurement. If you would like support, contact Purple via firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about RPA, and how it can be best used by Insurers, download our Guide below.