A Culture of Automation Starts with Digitisation

Deploying RPA to accelerate your business processes and liberate your employees has a very important dependency, it needs the right fuel.  The “robot” cannot automate a process until it is in a digital format.  I hear you all clamouring that you can scan in a document and extract the relevant info – and that’s what digitisation is – and then use RPA.  This illustrates the point; you can see the above process is actually made up of two steps.  Take another example, if your standard operating procedure is to get three quotes over the phone and then telephonically inform the chosen vendor that they’ve got the job, it will be a challenge to digitally transform your quotation process.

Investing in RPA without having a clear understanding of where one is on the digitisation maturity curve is misguided.

The first public mobile phone call was made on 3rd April 1973 by Martin Cooper. It would take another 17 years before mobile phones reached the critical mass of 1 million subscribers in the United States.  The Apple iPhone debuted in 2007 and the human race never looked back.  Can you imagine life without your mobile device now?  No, we can’t either!

Automation in various forms is following a similar path, it’s just happening a lot faster.  Humans have automated since time began and robotic process automation (RPA) is just another implement to bend to our will.  As workloads grow and we work longer hours (Benchmarking Working Europe 2017, Eurostat) we need help – fortunately this technology has matured to a point where it is now truly useful and affordable.

As people seek more meaning, justification, and purpose for work and the economy is dictating everyone “do-more-with-less”, RPA provides for both seemingly contradictory conditions.  Offloading the menial, repetitive, boring, yet necessary tasks that we all do on a daily basis and liberating ourselves to do more creative and empathetic work, tasks that require human-thinking satisfies the human condition above.

Deploying RPA technology to aid the human in a cost-effective manner, and training employees to be Citizen Developers so that your Bot does exactly what you need it do to, looks after the company’s bottom line too.

“RPA adoption is 80% about the people and 20% about the technology” – Jani Rahja, Posti Group, Finland.

Gartner define a Citizen Developer as “a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT”.  This definition is a little outdated and needs to be expanded.  Employees who build out RPA processes within a predefined framework to help themselves to shift the mundane and banal and contribute to the RPA component and knowledge base of their organization are invaluable.  The multiplier effect of reusable components that have been certified and are made available to everyone else in the organisation creates a groundswell that the employee and the organisation benefits from.  It’s all about putting your Digital Assistant to work and sharing your successes.

The case for the company is overt and easily made; the case for the employee is hidden inside:

Option A: work your employees harder, which leads to fatigue, more sick leave, absenteeism and less engaged employees leading to resignations and a recruitment and training activities which are expensive from a time and money perspective.

Option B: start small, invest modestly and augment some employees with RPA.  Strategically drive the measurement of employee engagement and full-time equivalent to prove to your satisfaction that the return is there and you’ll never look back.  Just like the mobile phone; “how did we ever do without it?”

Option B is already proven in more mature RPA markets, such as Europe and the United States.  Gartner research found that the average amount of avoidable rework in accounting departments can take up to 30% of a full-time employee’s overall time.  How much does that add up to across your finance team?

According to a recent Forrester report, The Impact of RPA on Employee Experience, 86% of respondents reported increased efficiency (speed!), 57% reported improved customer service and 57% confirmed improved employee engagement.  This was borne out when 66% of employees surveyed confirmed that their work has been restructured and that they are having more human interactions.

“Menial tasks have reduced significantly for our employees, they’re more engaged and focused.  Dare I say it, they seem to care more . . . we want to give our employees and our customers a good experience, and with RPA we’re able to give them a great one instead.”

Option A above has been our default setting.  Time to change up to Option B.