We’ve been staunch advocates of automation since Velocity’s inception four years ago.  In recent years, large organizations and enterprises have been pushing towards a new flavor of automation called Robotic Process Automation or RPA.  Robotic Process Automation enables software robots (bots) to act like a human user of a computer and its front-end interface.  Advances in DevOps, RPA tools and the painful, long transition to updated systems has made this march toward RPA more timely and valuable.

McKinsey estimates that $7.5 trillion of global work output is “automatable” and could completely alter, not just unskilled desk work but skilled, intelligent workers as well.  To be clear, we’ve been working towards automation in one form or another for hundreds of years, through advances in manufacturing, logistics and even small skills like sewing machines!

RPA is worth looking into because it can vastly reduce time spent on mundane, repetitive tasks and free up valuable employee time to focus on higher-value activities.

Here are five reasons to join the RPA movement:

  1. Software migrations

Software migrations are time consuming and costly.  Migrating to a new ERP, or EMR could take years and cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.  What’s even more frustrating is that at times, certain features and functionality which may have functioned a particular way in a previous software, may not even be present in updated versions.  Imagine a business process where employees log paid time off (PTO) in HR Software A.  HR Software B, while a more advanced comprehensive Software, doesn’t track PTO.

The company must therefore maintain a small slice of Software A and manually, and multiplicatively pass data into Software B.  RPA can help with this.

  1. Complex reporting

As our data sources and analytic capabilities have grown, so too has the time required to build various reports.  We have worked with clients where one report could take 30 hours to build.  The process involves ingesting data from multiple XML, PDF and Excel sheets (hosted across various shared folders) followed up by complex Excel macros and formatting.

RPA is ideal for these types of complex reports and can vastly increase reporting granularity and frequency.  Imagine a report that was once compiled weekly to track inventory available in 15 minute increments intra-day.  RPA can be transformative for advanced report generation.

  1. RPA is not “Rip and Replace”

RPA should be explored by enterprises as much for what it is not as for what it is.  Bear with me.  Because bots sit on top of and alongside existing infrastructure and applications, implementing new systems (see #1), re-training employees and even hiring new FTEs to scale various isn’t required.  Yes, you’ll need some additional software and Virtual Machines (VMs) to deploy fully independent digital workers or autonomous bots, you won’t need to Rip and Replace existing infrastructure and applications.  You won’t need to migrate data.

  1. ROI Can be Demonstrated in Months Not Years

Often times, large-scale application or IT initiatives are positioned as cost savers over 5 or 10 yeas.  While RPA can bring with it some immediate fixed costs, it has a far clearer path to demonstrate its return on investment in very short time.  Upon bot deployment, a user’s time is immediately freed up to focus on high-value creating activities for your business.

RPA can also lower labor costs by shifting team members and FTEs to high-value work rather than wasting time on repetitive, mindless tasks. Typical cost savings per process can range from 30-45% (Source: Blue Prism and Cognizant Trizetto) by improving service quality and accuracy compared to manual execution.

What is the value of reduced errors in your business? What’s the value of happier employees? That’s the value of RPA.

  1. It Empowers Your People

Yes.  RPA, through it automation of human tasks frees your employees from the worst parts of their day-to-day roles.  Every human is prone to errors, whether accidental (the dreaded fat finger mistake), unintentional (I meant to enter $1329.99, not $13,299.90) or created by some of our real-life issues.  When your workers show up tired, sick or their girlfriend or boyfriend dumped them, can they be trusted to enter in Purchase Order data as well as they did every other day?

RPA can mitigate these issues and others and make sure your employees are working on things their best suited to do.

Can RPA help your organization?

Automation and more specifically RPA is changing everything and its benefits are present across an organization. RPA can help with software migrations, complex reporting and doesn’t impact existing infrastructure and applications.  Its ROI is clear and faster than many of its alternatives and it can empower your employees to focus on the parts of their work that create true value.

Your competitors are doing it.  Are you considering RPA?