12 November 2018

Glantus Chief Data Officer on RPA: 5 Things I've Learned About RPA

In this article, Glantus Chief Data Officer Joe Keating explores 5 things he has learnt about RPA since its emergence, and emphasises how 2018 has been the 'Year of the Robot'.

2018 is the year of the Robot, or more specifically - the year that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has become mainstream. It is playing a vital role in shaping the future of business and driving innovation and efficiency within all types of organisations.

For those who have not experienced it yet, RPA (in a business context) is the application of technology to allow employees to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communication with other digital systems. This autonomous workflow is programmed to follow rule-based tasks just as a human would.

Having completed a set of RPA project reviews, I felt it would be of interest to share some of the not-so-obvious observations our team has noted during these sessions, including metrics on average ROI.

RPA workplace statistics

Firstly, some background. At Glantus, we consider RPA to naturally complement and enhance our Data Platform solutions. For many years we’ve carefully assessed customers’ problems and deployed software and services that deliver an effective solution and drive innovation.

We’ve been in business for over 20 years and count some large, household name organisations as valued customers. We continue to grow at a healthy rate and our strategy has served us well, enter RPA.

After a year in the RPA market, I was asked to present some lessons-learned about this technology to the rest of our board; we like to challenge each other (it helps us to grow, I think!), anyway here’s the five I chose.

1. RPA is not a panacea for all business process problems

Given the level of hype around robotics in the IT market place, anyone would think that installing a set of robots would address all and any issues with an organisation’s business systems. The reality is that RPA addresses a specific type of automation and application integration requirement and when there’s a good fit, great value can be realized.

2. RPA products are quite diverse

But are polarizing towards a common set of capabilities that are somewhat ‘shaped’ by the marketing spend of the most highly funded players. In my opinion, there is a degree of ‘technological solutions looking for a problem’ syndrome here. As with any new IT solution set, the trick is to assess where and how RPA can be applied to a customer’s specific requirements to optimize the effectiveness of the solution.

3. RPA projects force customers to review

And define their core processes and either re-design or at least re-consider them. Deploying RPA to simply automate an already inefficient process helps by saving human resources but it is likely to remain a sub-optimal process. Reviewing processes that have evolved over time is essential, especially if they are expensive, pose a risk to business operations or introduce delays and / or errors that have to be expensively corrected in later, upstream processes. On this particular subject, our team has been surprised by the level of interest in Process Intelligence that we offer to complement RPA.

4. End User prospects are typically interested in more

Than the obvious benefits of process automation and resulting productivity gains. We’ve been surprised by how quickly Operations and Compliance Directors spot the opportunity to ‘shield’ (or rather, restrict) users from certain applications of data. The reasons for this are numerous but essentially, there are inherent compliance risks with some groups of end-users having full access to all applications and data. Shielding the business from the user errors or the potential of internal fraud is good practice.

5. Many RPA process candidates are predicated on being a temporary fix

There’s definitely a sense that RPA technology provides a quick solutions and can be viewed as a short-to-medium term solution. Our opinion is that RPA solutions should be built as a robust solution that should add enough value to be a permanent solution and it’s OK to work in an agile way but do ‘proceed with caution’ and ensure any solution meets IT governance requirements.

There's no doubt that there's a lot of interest in RPA and there's significant opportunity for streamlining processes through the use of Robotics. However, as with the majority of IT solutions, there are many ways to solve a problem; understanding the context of the requirements is on the key factors in the success of RPA.

In that sense, it is no different to any other software technology.

If your organisation would benefit from increased efficiency and automation, contact Glantus today to see how RPA can help.

For information on how RPA can assist in your finance department, download our Free Guide - ‘Bridge These 12 Financial Process Gaps with Robotic Process Automation’, below.

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