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RPA Use Cases Identification and Deployment Best Practices

When considering the potential business and technical areas where RPA can make a significant impact in an organization, a variety of use cases across multiple departments and business functions can flourish. RPA tools are typically known for being able to virtually automate any manual transaction that involves data, rules, and user interface. This allows beginner organizations to choose from a plethora of business processes by evaluating their automation potential and the chances of securing an immediate ROI post go-live.

To determine the low hanging fruit use cases that should be first exposed to an organization’s IT ecosystem, stakeholders need to evaluate their business objectives, along with any efforts on technical deployments and process re-engineering. According to Gartner, use cases for RPA include instances when an organization wants to:

  • Automate an existing manual task or process with minimal process re-engineering.
  • Reduce or remove head count from batch data input and output tasks or data rekeying.
  • Link to external systems that cannot be connected to through other IT options.
  • Avoid major system integration projects or specific new major application deployments.
  • Replace individual "shadow or citizen IT" desktop automation with enterprise wide automation.

Manual activities that can be automated with a RPA tool:

Business processes within an organization are typically triggered by paper, phone call, or website entry. In the below table, Gartner illustrates a standard manual process, triggered by a new prospective client and showing where RPA could be applied to replace the typical parts of the process as conducted by human employees currently.

Gartner - Example Use of RPA for Service X

Early adopters of RPA have experienced significant business outcomes in the routine tasks and productivity for ranges between two employees to as many as 20 employees for a single process. In some cases, employees' tasks were replaced by more strategy and decision-making activities, and a boost in productivity levels were perceived. This has laid a high impact on the cost-effectiveness of shared-service centers, business process outsourcers and various rule-based operational roles.

The IT department would also enjoy a shadowing of their manual processes, and reduced the burden of expensive, disruptive, and time-consuming traditional IT implementations (months to years) of integration or BPM technologies that typically drive down repetitive data entry costs and increase operational efficiency, as RPA stands to be a much more cost-efficient and effective alternative.

Examples of RPA applications in front-, middle- and back-office processes:

■ HR processes such as employee on-boarding, recruitment and payroll.

RPA is being used to coordinate many different types of requests that need to be made when an employee joins a firm — from notifying payroll to getting all the IT access and passwords allocated to having a desk. The benefit to the firm is that one system can be linked to multiple other systems and can eliminate rekeying of data between the systems when looking at the entirety of the activities that a starting employee requires. The RPA tool was used as it was considered a better short-term fit than the specialist software available on the market, and it got data into the multiple IT, HR and facilities systems that the employee would need support from on day one.

Specialized HR software like Oracle, SAP, Workday, and many more, can be used in conjunction with RPA software.

RPA is being used to support issuing the offer letter with correct terms and conditions after the multitude of external recruiters have selected candidates. The benefit is that the company can reallocate the 50 people who were consolidating and issuing offer letters.

Eliminating re-keying between employee record databases and payroll outsourcers. The benefit to the firm is that they now have error-free data movements between their various payroll systems. The reason that they used RPA was because it would have been too costly and taken too long to integrate the systems in other ways.

■ Finance and accounting activities.

Checking if invoice or order entry data is in the correct fields following optical character recognition (OCR) data capture are some of the ways organizations are using RPA.

The process is typically set up in several months, and the benefit is that now humans are not needed to perform the checks. Automating the collation of reporting data for month and year-end close from multiple systems. The benefit here is that the RPA tool can run a "soft" close every day of the week across multiple ERP systems and pass the data back to the managers on potential issues. Note that getting organizational security permission to access databases is one of the issues that can slow down RPA deployment. Again, specialist financial software may be a better choice for these activities.

■ Customer management.

RPA uses here include on-boarding, processing rule-based activities triggered from websites, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, Web chat and mobile apps, collating data from multiple disparate systems for customer service, orders, and checking systems for price and delivery offers. The benefit of adding in an RPA tool in this process is that customer service employees can now much more quickly access all the data they need to service customers from the different heritages of firms that had been acquired. When compared to other front-office CRM systems, RPA can be implemented much more faster and without creating potential disruptions.

RPA is being used to coordinate all the requests that need to be made when a customer becomes a client through activities triggered from websites, IVR systems, Web chat and mobile apps. The benefit to the firm is that one system can be linked to multiple other systems and can eliminate re-keying of data between the systems when looking at the entirety of the activities that a new customer requires. The RPA tool was used as it was considered a better short-term fit than the specialist software that is available on the market because it was more flexible at taking feeds from multiple locations.

Other potential RPA tasks include automating preparing data for customer subscription or warranties renewals, and assisting with campaign management data collection and information dissemination for marketing and sales activities.

■ IT tasks

These tasks include automating routine processes, such as password resets and backups. Note there are many specialist tools that are designed to perform infrastructure or application support, as listed in the "Hype Cycle for IT Infrastructure Availability and Performance Management, 2015." However, in heterogonous environments that currently have an element of manual coordination, an RPA tool might prove useful to coordinate other software and replace manual labor.

Industry specific processes

Due to the major cost reduction pressures in industries like banking and insurance, they have been at the forefront of the RPA adoption legion. Their uses have been widely implemented in activities such as moving data for claims processing, predominantly from customer-facing websites. Card management for issuing replacements for lost or stolen credit cards, and reversal of card charges. And mortgage processing, with the resubmission of failed payments.

■ Banking and financial organizations

Financial institutions tend to be the earliest adopters in digital transformation solutions, with an ever more competitive landscape between the new fin-tech companies and the traditional banking/financial institutions, increased regulation, front and back office operations, analytical insights, and the continuous need to boost customer experience, businesses in this industry can take significant competitive advantages out of RPA.

RPA helps banking companies differentiate. It maximizes process productivity, decreases costs, facilitates regulative compliance, and enables extensive analytical insight.

■ Insurance companies

Enterprise in the insurance space need to cater to the dynamic demands from their customers, work with the vast amount of rigid legacy enterprise applications to operate their key business processes, as well as meet the ever-growing number of regulatory compliance worldwide.

To stay resilient to these challenges and outperform their competitors, companies in this industry need to find ways to leverage new technologies that allow them to interact with their legacy systems without the need for a highly invasive and costly integration.

Deploying a robot for front-end tasks to deliver superior customer experience versus competitors is one of the first differentiators that RPA offers to insurance businesses. RPA delivers scalability for a continuous growth and market demand changes.

■ Healthcare providers

Healthcare institutions are faced with a growing number of administrative tasks that take away the focus to their main goal: patient care. Challenges include continuous digitization of patient records, data compliance, budgetary pressures, lack of IT resources, etc.

By adopting robotic process automation, healthcare institutions have gained significant operational efficiency and are able to prioritize judgment-based decisions instead of administrative tasks for their clinical staff.

Contact us to learn how we can help you identify RPA use cases and design your software deployment for optimal results.

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