Organizations have been looking for ways to improve their efficiencies, reduce errors, and increase data security and privacy using robotic process automation (RPA). This technology has been implemented across thousands of organizations globally since it emerged over ten years ago. However, while the promise of huge gains in efficiencies has been proven, documented, and reported by many sources, some organizations are not seeing the same results. In this series of articles, the goal is to understand the primary reasons why some are realizing these results but others are only achieving marginal returns on their investments. To harness the power of the RPA platform, it’s important to consider the human element, the infrastructure, the road map of where you ultimately want to go, and the definition of success as the program progresses.
Building an RPA center of excellence to help the organization automate with digital workers is a great step in efficiency and opening the door to innovation. However, it’s not enough to simply look at cost reduction as the primary metric of achievement. Companies that are building a successful digital workforce use several metrics to determine their effectiveness. Some of these metrics are easier to measure than others, which is why it’s important to determine these factors early within an automation program.
There are several obvious measures that can be used to determine how effective a digital workforce is within the organization:
- Cost reduction
- Increased accuracy
- Improved efficiency
With these measures, taking a baseline of the activities prior to automation and after automation becomes a simple task. However, there is much more to an automation program than the basic bottom-line impacts that can be measured this way. These other benefits require a deeper dive and can ultimately be much more beneficial.
Opening the Doors to Innovation
There are many processes within an organization that could be successfully automated. Within this group of processes are some that could affect many full-time equivalent (FTE) employees’ entire job. The positions that could be affected in their entirety probably have very high turnover, very low job satisfaction, or are completely outsourced to a lower wage country. The automation of most processes will affect a portion of a FTE which makes it more challenging to equate the financial benefits if the robots are not replacing the people. But this is where the organization can gain the most benefit.
By unlocking the smaller portions of time spent with tasks which arguably are not adding value but must be done, employees who understand the business become advocates for innovation at the ground level. Giving an option to your subject matter experts to process work more efficiently using an intelligent automation platform provides an open door for these employees to innovate. Additionally, these resources may be up-skilled to train the new digital workforce to supply new ways of working that were previously relegated to the “wouldn’t it be nice if…” category of thoughts.
Delighting the Customer
Companies that were not founded during the digital era may not have the same kinds of interactions as those companies who were born digital do with their customers. Many industries are being “disrupted” by these startup firms because the customer is desperately looking for a better way to interact with the services and products they are buying. By leveraging a digital workforce, opportunities to interact with customers open up that were previously too expensive to consider with the legacy systems that most companies use. Now, instead of waiting for weeks to get a loan approved through the traditional processes, banks can issue loan approvals in days since the process has been streamlined by digital workers. Additionally, there are interactions that your employees can provide to your customers on a more personal level by allowing more efficient human interactions.
Choosing the Right Resources
All organizations experience both turnover as well as attrition within their human workforce. In many geographies or industries, we’re seeing the effects of this in a pronounced way. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) report provides insight into the concerns related to the number of retirees that will be leaving these positions now and in the coming years. Additionally, Japan has 86% of its companies struggling to fill job vacancies, which impacts how these companies can operate and compete.
Jobs are changing and hiring or training the right resources is becoming more important than ever. By leveraging a digital workforce to support the transactional and operational activities within an organization, people can utilize their creativity to support growing the business and interacting with other humans to build better brands. People working with people and digital workers working with data makes for an effective mix of resources in the modern business. In addition to aligning the work to the right resource, your employees will experience increased job satisfaction which will help retain the precious human capital on which your business depends.
Scaling to Meet Demand
As business grows, hiring and training people is an expensive task. Certainly, the skills and experience of talented workers allows your business to grow in new ways. What if your business cannot keep up with the hiring demands because of the work? With a digital workforce, scaling becomes an exercise of initializing more machines to operate within a cloud or on-site environment to meet the demand. Adding human resources requires training that the digital workforce does not need. The digital workers already understand the process and adding new “clones” to support the workload does not require any more training. People can now use business strategy to outline the path to higher digital worker impact through scale.
Reducing costs is only one way to measure the impact of a digital workforce. However, it’s important to understand the capabilities of a digital workforce within the center of excellence to allow the organization to secure the other benefits an intelligent automation program can provide which may be far more beneficial than cost-cutting.