Robotic Process Automation or RPA is a relatively new technology that’s clearly coming of age and is now ready for some PrimeTime- enough for the “discerning” Decision makers to take notice. As the word gets around, this guide attempts to answer few critical questions decision makers need to consider and decide for themselves if it’s right for them.
Ok, so what’s RPA exactly and what is the value proposition
simply put it’s a way for organizations to drive cost efficiencies (to tune of 20%-30%) on top of their already optimized & offshored-outsourced processes, drive more productivity and/or throughput while ensuring greater accuracy and reliability in the operations. It’s not a methodology, or process…central to RPA is the idea of using lean chunks of software code(a.k.a Robots) that can takeover mundane, repetitive, non-value adding tasks ( for .e.g copy, pasting information from diff sources, toggling between different systems for information) that take up lot of time in any process and free-up bandwidth of FTEs for other higher-value adding activities like analysis, handling exceptions, customer service etc.
These robots reside on individual desktops and can be easily configured in a span of few weeks, with minimal to no overloading of the existing IT teams. Breakeven for most RPA projects is around 3-6 mths, with a (per robot )TCO that is 1/3rd the cost of an offshore FTE.
Sounds too good to be true…believe it or not, it’s happening and it’s real !
Good, so what technology or solutions are we talking here
Depending on processes being looked upon as candidates for automation; technology choices can range from simple macros & scripting to RPA solutions that work on structured data, rules & workflow based processes to more complex solutions that can learn and provide judgement based decision making by blending elements of Artificial Intelligence(AI), Natural Language Processing(NLP), Machine Learning(ML) etc. Output of one RPA can be input for another process as well and they can be linked together to provide end to end automation coverage.
Software robots thankfully abstract the technology complexity and business users or power users can themselves configure the robots (with a handful of process engineers and analysts) which can then be controlled by a centralized User Interface/Dashboard for easy access, governance and control. The Software agents or ‘Robots’ themselves can sit on top of existing IT infrastructure and impose little to no overhead. Robots work through a UI just like humans access their applications and mimic the actions that humans do today. They can see, they can learn, and they can process, similar to how humans do. In more advanced avataars (AI+ML), they can also take decisions, like a human would do.
Who has implemented RPA in the industry
Barclays Bank is using RPA to save over GBP 175mn in bad debt provisioning, BlueCross Blueshield is using RPA for Claim Adjudication and Claims processing saving $11mn and reducing manual workload by 20-30%, UBS is using Robotics for automating is mission critical finance processes, Wolters Kluvers is using Robotics for quarterly account closing.
But what can these ‘robots’ really do; are there real live examples I can associate with
Robots today can open and read attachments in emails, they can move files from one folder to another, they can follow programmed rules like if/then/ else, they can extract data from forms or input data into forms, they can further direct that data into data stores like Databases, xls files, or push them into integrated systems like ERPs, CRM, Finance, HR systems etc…and much more.
Applications vary, they are being used in areas below, as we speak-
Finance & Accounting: Vendor Management, T&E, Invoicing, Exception Handling, Issue Resolution, Payment runs/cycles, Payables, Receivables, Collections, Monthly Closing, Reconciliations, Accounting to name a few.
Banking: Data validations, Data migrations between applications, Report Creation, Form filings, Claim Processing, Originations, Servicing of loans etc…
Capital Markets: AML & KYC Processing, Data Remediation, Management Reporting, Client Reporting, Customer and Advisor Onboarding, License & registration process, Payments and Sweeps, Reconciliations, Asset Transfers, Corporate Action processing etc..
Insurance: Notifications to Agents for renewals, Credit checks, data entry for registration, update client info in multiple systems of records, Payment decisions, Claim processing, daily bank reconciliations etc..
Organizations are exploring possibilities with automation more actively today than they were 2 years back and the space is exploding rapidly. Act now to capitalize on a promising technology that helps you “achieve more for much less”.
- Mohit Mehrotra, VP Strategic Sales & Relationships