5 min read

RPA Business Value: Mission Impossible?

Today’s business environments are experiencing unprecedented change, fierce competition, massive disruption, and unpredictability, driving businesses to search for adaptive technologies to help them gain and maintain a competitive edge. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the most popular options available, enabling new levels of agility to compete in today’s business environments.

A tech businessman with his arms outstretched in front of a global company skyscraper.

In addition, RPA drives fresh, innovative thinking and business strategies. Increasing business value isn’t an impossible mission but doing it without RPA in the coming years might be. The benefits of RPA revolve around the improvement of three key business value drivers: optimization of business processes, time and cost savings, and enhanced employee and customer experience. These drivers also include a significant reduction in error rates, manual effort, and processing time, ultimately improving customer service results as well as employee productivity and satisfaction. 

Continuous Improvement and Optimization of Business Processes

Process optimization with RPA is the act of identifying the right processes for automation, automating those processes, and optimizing the BOTs performing the automations. This will cause a shift in the corporate culture where BOTs handle the bulk of repetitive activities and employees only handle exceptions requiring human interaction. 

The aim of process optimization is to ensure the entire corporate culture of a company undergoes change, and the company derives the greatest possible benefit from that change. When process optimization is successfully implemented, the customer benefits from greatly improved delivery, reliability, and lower costs, and the company benefits from higher margins  and efficiencies as well as employee and customer satisfaction.

A company moving towards RPA should fully accept process optimization and slowly introduce it in all areas where applicable. The automation journey starts with identifying the areas in which automation can reduce employee workload and increase positive customer experiences. By selecting the right processes for automation employees, can increase their focus on higher-value activities. As RPA process optimization expands into larger and larger parts of a company, it reduces operational costs and increases its business value at an increasing rate.

There are three basic tenets a company should follow to safeguard its program of process optimization:

1. Process Mining and Analysis

When evaluating candidates for process automation and optimization, gather as much accurate data and documentation as possible and know your business processes intimately. Use this information to conduct a thorough analysis to determine if it is the right process to automate. Not all processes will be a good fit for automation, so RPA may not be the answer to all optimization goals. 

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis

RPA will come at a cost, but savings due to productivity increases will more than make up for it. The statistical and qualitative data from process mining and analysis will identify the Return on Investment (ROI) and business value of the selected automation candidate processes. Results can be verified by using cross-comparisons with different Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) within the targeted departments who either own and/or share the processes.

3. Automation Candidate Prioritization

Prioritize your automation candidates by business value to ensure the greatest impact on productivity, cost savings, and process optimization. As a company reaps the largest benefits of RPA from the most impactful changes available, it can then expand its impact to other areas.

Time and Cost Savings: Improving Productivity and Accuracy

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a sustained growth in RPA revenues over the past year, outpacing the already significant growth that had been in motion before the pandemic. Consistent annual drops in average RPA prices have accompanied the revenue growth, making it an attractive option for many companies looking to invest in digital transformation.

This growth is likely to continue in 2021 according to Gartner projections as companies pursue adding to the capacity of their RPA portfolios. Gartner projects that nine in 10 large organizations will adopt some form of RPA in the next couple of years, making it a nearly ubiquitous tool. Therefore, companies will need to identify how to maximize the benefits of RPA by determining which applications give the best long-term results and cost savings. 

The decreased dependency on a human workforce for routine, digital processes will be more attractive to end users not only for cost reduction benefits, but also for insuring their business against future impacts like this pandemic.

Cathy Tornbohm, a distinguished research VP at Gartner

As the cost-benefit analysis becomes ever more enticing, a range of industries are closing in. A quarter of finance executives expected increased spending on RPA deployments during the pandemic, and Gartner predicts that within three years half of healthcare chief information officers (CIOs) will be using RPA. Even the construction industry is expected to grow its RPA implementation by almost one-third.

Doing More with Less: Liberating Resources and Enhancing the Employee Experience

RPA tackles the mundane tasks in which humans frequently make small mistakes and generally dislike. When employees no longer need to fill out forms, enter data, or look up information, they are freed up to perform more complex, interesting, and rewarding tasks that add more value to the company.  

The benefits of using automation to free up resources are clear: more resources mean more potential for productivity, output, and revenue. Similarly, increasing employee satisfaction has tangible benefits for companies. Happier employees are more likely to work harder, be more loyal, and produce more for the company. 

Automation can sometimes fully replace an employee’s tasks, but the case is often more about forming a symbiotic relationship in which RPA takes the role of an assistant. As employees perform more difficult tasks, RPA might perform assistive roles by taking care of small portions of the whole task, leaving the most important parts to the employee.

RPA: Here to Stay

Now more than ever, RPA is a central part of modern business strategies and operating models centering around the customer and employee experience. Business trends point toward further increases in the years to come, making this technology an essential part of adapting to today’s fast-paced business environment. By intelligently applying automation in your organization, you’ll see improvements across all key business drivers, improving your ability to compete in the market.

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