Beyond Cost Reduction: How RPA helps retain your best talent by reducing process debt?

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Introduction

Organizations have come a long way using various application systems built on Information technologies and will continue to build more systems by exploiting every new technology. However, obsolescence and lack of systematic adoption to new processes create process debt or overhead to the organization. This is due to multiple dependencies on specific (older) technologies, specific individuals, and statutory compliance.  This burden increases over time makes things more complex, and ultimately takes a toll on the team’s time.

A Case Study

The following case study shows the process followed for Approval Requests submission to State/Fed Government for New Devices Approval.  The submission is performed by Business Systems using Integration Portal.  The responses from State/Fed System are received on the Integration portal, which need to Analyze to identify actions to perform by various business functions.

Approval Request Management Process – Managed by Specialists / Experts

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Due to business confidentiality reasons, accesses are restricted to Specialists / Experts to operate portals, receive feedback – Analyze Feedback – Identify Actions / Recommendations – Follow-up for Closure etc.  Delay in the submission of responses results into loss of fees paid and the need to start the approval request from the beginning.

Specialist / Experts are getting tasked with many other activities (listed above) which doesn’t align with their skills & experience, were endup quitting the job for better alignment with domain skills.

Typical solutions to such scenarios will be, building additional capacity with specialists to perform these additional activities.  However, individuals don’t see value addition to their career and hence tend to walk away to keep themselves more relevant and aligned with the domain.

While capacity augmentation of specialists is the easiest path, it comes with time delay and higher costs, mainly due to the reluctance to work on older systems/government systems.  As a result, organizations experience higher turnover of such roles.

Any other efficiency/productivity initiatives are performed in a fragmented manner, where the outcome is none to negligible, irrespective of allocating a sizable budget and efforts due to one or other influencing factor.   As multiple bottlenecks in the process continue, the business has to carry debts in the areas of:

Process Debt:Continue using a process with limitation/inefficiencies 
Technology Debt:Continue to use Technology & applications with higher maintenance cost
Skill Debt:Higher cost of resources, resource turnover, dependability on individual

How does Process Automation helps?

Software bots (robots) tools are designed and built to mimic the pre-defined process steps followed by human beings, along with the adoption of the business rules, schedules, threshold values, and communication channels in a more optimized way which brings consistency, accuracy, predictability, and efficiency in the overall process.  

Approval Request Management Process – Managed by Software Robots:

The process defined above, the specialist/expert is replaced with a software robot and automates the entire process by adopting business rules along with the integration of communication channels and other business systems. 

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With automation of the Approval Request Management process, the organization could engage and align the experts/specialists for performing relevant work in their respective domains, thus retaining them for longer period and avoiding cost for new and replacement resource onboarding.  This also made ROI on automation initiative within six months by saving on additional / replacement resource onboarding.

As part of automation, specialists/experts will contribute to defining business rules for undefined exceptions and provide input to improve the automation process.  This makes individuals remain part of the process chain at the right place and outside routine work.

Overall benefits of business process automation can be grouped as below:

OrganizationEmployeeCustomer
Consistency, Predictability, Standardization, scale on demand.
Cost Saving & faster ROI on automation investment by using robots for 24 x 7 operations.
Engage more on initiatives, challenges, self-learning, and development, which add value to individuals’ careers.Improved CX, consistency in response & communication, and documentation.

Untapped Potential – Upto 70% time is wasted in routine activities:

Software Bots can be used to automate business processes across all domains, including IT infrastructure, Information Security, and compliance.

While Software Bots are agnostic to Domain, Process, Technology, and tools, it’s always advisable to start with intra-department processes to demonstrate the features and power of the Software Bots. This also helps to build citizen developers from the available team to build the automation.

Example: Email-based Self Service, where employee requests leave information over emails from the Software Bot. This information is currently obtained by login to the application or provided by the HR function by running internal reports.

Conclusion:

A software robot is a tool that will work well beyond business process automation, viz., help to retain employees by providing opportunities to work on business Initiatives, learning & self-development by releasing themselves from repetitive activities.

Organizations can build citizen developers within the business teams to own and maintain the automation build for their respective functions, which further help to save maintenance cost.

Written by 

Program - Project Management, Process Architecture and Process Automation using Software Bots. Experience of IT Applications building all domains of manufacturing Industry.