Now that employees have adapted to remote work, companies find themselves facing yet another challenge – asking employees back to the office or at least requiring them to work hybrid schedules.
This dilemma has set the stage for The Great Resignation and labor shortages. Instead of exhausting all efforts to speed up hiring, smart business leaders are combining human talent and robotic process automation (RPA) to fill the gaps in their workforces.
Easily, RPA which is a smarter offshoot of artificial intelligence (AI) can support human employees with repetitive, rules-based tasks in human resources, customer service and information technology. It also combines all these with its image recognition and AI capabilities. This allows RPA to process unstructured data. Meaning, it can now do more complex tasks like resume screening, employment verification and fraud monitoring.
This technology is greatly helping companies that offer outsourcing services for back-office processes. A survey conducted by The Economist which polled 502 executives across eight countries in a range of sectors, revealed that 90% of respondents’ organizations use automation technologies. RPA has proven to be a game-changer in improving back-office efficiency as well as employee morale and staffing, as 73% of survey respondents were “very” or “entirely” satisfied with the automation benefits they are seeing, with increased productivity cited by over half of respondents.
Giants including Walmart, AT&T, Walgreens and Vanguard have all adopted RPA to automate tasks like answering customer questions, issuing refunds, and facilitating various supply chain processes.
An article by The Brookings Institute listed multiple examples of organizations’ reported benefits of RPA, including accounting firm KPMG’s application of a digital initiative to improve financial invoice processing, which led to cost savings and improved productivity by up to 70%.
If you are looking to use RPA in your business process, Nate Medoff, managing partner and cofounder of ContinuServe shares a few tips for effective implementation and deployment:
Set and manage expectations
Medoff said companies can see quick return on investment (ROI) but careful and detailed planning and strategy is important before “reaping the rewards.” Experts recommend first identifying the processes that should be automated – not just the ones you think would be nice to automate. Engaging expert consulting advice can help an organization prioritize target processes with the highest return on investment.
Automate incrementally, not all at once.
Gradual implementation has many advantages compared to full-scale implementation. Giving your organization time to develop the functional and technical skills to effectively identify, design and manage RPA automation will dramatically lower the risk of each incremental deployment. Taking an agile approach and progressively reducing the time frame between sprints as your organization builds its capabilities can still drive impressive returns while effectively managing the risks of problematic implementations that can sour process owners on this game changing technology.
Include your IT team.
It is good to include IT teams rather than exclusively asking them to deploy the technology to all other departments. A cross-functional, agile approach will serve your business well. IT’s involvement is key for ensuring existing software systems will work harmoniously with new automated processes.
Consider the impact on service levels and people. RPA is often considered solely as a method to increase ROI and cost savings. It is equally as important to view the software as a tool to improve the employee and customer experience. It is meant to assist customer service representatives. Medoff advises to work closely with human resources since some tasks will be “delegated” to RPA. This opens up employees to new tasks that are less repetitive and those that require cognitive skills.