Support Your Digital Transformation with Robotic Process Automation

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Technology at the service of people and solving problems through technical innovations – this is the vision of a digital future. However, we are certainly not the first to call for all sectors to rapidly drive forward the digitalization process. This is a central challenge of our time. In the following, we will introduce a technology that plays a fundamental role in this process: Robotic Process Automation, or RPA for short.

What is Robotic Process Automation able to achieve?

If you have never heard of RPA, now is the time to learn about the principle and how it works. It is a business process automation technology that allows software or a “robot” to be configured so that it mimics and incorporates human actions. This is done by interaction between the robot and digital systems in order to execute various business processes in an automated manner.

Comparison: Robotic Process Automation versus APIs

In traditional workflow automation, a software developer uses application programming interfaces to create lists of different actions to connect tasks and the interface to the back end. Robotic Process Automation technology, on the other hand, uses the user interface itself. An RPA robot observes what actions users take to perform a task, captures that data, and then automatically controls application processes just as users would do manually. It interprets, triggers responses, and communicates with other systems to complete a variety of repetitive tasks.

Where is it useful to implement Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic Process Automation is not a universal solution for all business processes. However, there are some areas where it can provide excellent value. This arises from the following four characteristics of processes:

  1. Repeatable: Processes that run cyclically with possibly high process volumes are particularly suitable. It is important that the same steps are performed each time.
  2. Rule-based: Processes that are based on individual laws that do not change. If X happens, Y must follow.
  3. Standardized: The individual actions within these processes must be based on standards. At most, there can be minor deviations from this standard, so that the automation is straightforward.
  4. Structured & data-based: The processes can only contain known sequences that follow uniform structures, based on known, captured data.

If these things don’t seem like they apply to your business, you might as well have a look at another promising area of digital transformation in our article Blockchain – An answer to your question of innovative digital transformation.

Sometimes it makes sense to take the second step before the first. That means using technologies and tools that create the space for a strategic transformation of the IT landscape, while measurable benefits are already being generated on the customer side. After all, the customer has nothing to gain if you slowly, gradually transform your IT landscape without achieving measurable benefits. Robotic Process Automation is capable of this.

Jana Bulkin, CEO of S2BConnected

What are the benefits of using RPA?

If you use RPA successfully, a whole range of advantages opens up. You don’t have to change your existing IT landscape or change application systems – RPA can be implemented without having to make extensive adjustments or investments. It actually saves expenses. Where human labor was previously required to perform and monitor processes, the tireless robot is now in action. This frees the staff from the obligation to perform these standard activities, thus reducing the general workload. Thus creating room for expert knowledge, further training and higher productivity – efficiency is increased.

Furthermore, this digital workforce increases the quality of the tasks performed because the human as a source of error is eliminated as a risk, there are no inaccuracies or mistakes due to inattention or copy-paste operations. And this high quality is at work day and night, 24/7, which ultimately increases customer satisfaction.

Robotic Process Automation Vorteile_Benefits

What are the benefits of using Robotic Process AutomationPA?

If you use RPA successfully, a whole range of advantages opens up. You don’t have to change your existing IT landscape or change application systems – RPA can be implemented without having to make extensive adjustments or investments. It actually saves expenses. Where human labor was previously required to perform and monitor processes, the tireless robot is now in action. This frees the staff from the obligation to perform these standard activities, thus reducing the general workload. Thus creating room for expert knowledge, further training and higher productivity – efficiency is increased.

Furthermore, this digital workforce increases the quality of the tasks performed because the human as a source of error is eliminated as a risk, there are no inaccuracies or mistakes due to inattention or copy-paste operations. And this high quality is at work day and night, 24/7, which ultimately increases customer satisfaction.

These challenges must be overcome

The fast pace and complexity of current conditions in the business world is also affecting Robotic Process Automation. This will increase the general pressure to change and adapt. New competitors on the financial market are one example of such challenges; so-called FinTechs are attacking established companies. Their often outdated, slow-moving systems have to compete with the very latest technology and state-of-the-art applications of these new competitors.

Innovations must be adapted to regulatory requirements, for example BASEL, Know Your Customer (KYC) or the Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Furthermore, customer satisfaction is the top priority. Customers always demand a high level of service quality and speed. A balance must be struck between new, emerging organizational structures and agile process structures.

Example: Application of Robotic Process Automation in the financial sector

  • Data synchronization: transferring data from one system to another, converting unstructured data into structured form
  • New customer entry across systems: moving data and performing multiple entries
  • Credit approval: compiling information from different systems
  • Retail credit checks: calculate credit risks
  • Account reconciliation: perform regular checks and automated closings
  • eForm extraction: transfer data from forms and make system entries
  • Price checks: Perform calculations and entries
  • Validation to support audits
  • Credit and order processing: from web form to inventory system (legacy applications)
  • Updating customer data: Reading and updating entries
  • Generate reports across systems
  • Fraud detection by tracking account activity

How should you approach Robotic Process Automation?

The first step is to do the groundwork. This means, in the specific case of your company, analyzing the business processes in terms of regularities and routines with a high amount of manual interactions. This is followed by defining the associated actions and documenting them precisely. All these processes must then be monitored and optimized in an organized manner to guarantee quality management from the very beginning. Only then will it be worthwhile to start with the selection of a service provider and the actual implementation of Robotic Process Automation.

 

Product selection in 4 steps

  1. Request for Information (RFI): duration approx. 2 weeks
    • Compilation of evaluation criteria
    • Definition of strategic goal and project scope
    • Creation of a long list of different providers e.g. with Gartner or Forrester
    • Obtaining further information from providers through questionnaire
Professional advice: Typical contents of the RFI questionnaire for robotic process automation specify requirements in terms of customer needs, performance, design, architecture, structure, system behavior, features and functionality, criteria for system evaluation.
  1. Request for Proposal (RFP): duration approx. 4 weeks
    • Evaluation of the RFI feedback
    • Creating a short list based on the responses to the questionnaire
    • Requesting proposals from vendors to obtain an initial estimate
  2. Proof of Concept (POC): duration approx. 2-4 weeks
    • Defining the scope of the proof of concept and expected outcomes
    • Staff the project team, in-house or off-site
    • Preparing infrastructure if necessary
    • Defining a potential implementation plan and conduct competency analysis
    • Preparing a management presentation
  3. Proof of Value (POV)
    • Evaluate your process landscape
    • Identify your problematic areas
    • Scout and evaluate related processes
    • Determine the ones with the biggest impact (prove the value)
    • Check for any dependencies within the project/product portfolio
    • Define the implementation roadmap
    • Calculate the break even, checking whether investments are profitable
    • Decision for the most suitable offer

After you have selected the most suitable offer, the next step is to show your appreciation for the efforts of the other providers and to give them dedicated feedback. Now you can venture into implementation, in which the so-called Center of Excellence takes on a leading role. It takes care of the actual implementation into the existing IT infrastructure and regulates the standards for the robotic process automation deployment, determines best practices and screens the support and training capacities within your company.

As you can see, Robotic Process Automation is a comparatively easy and quick-to-implement technology that can take you a long way along the path to the digitization of your business processes. Do you no longer want to work without these easily accessible advantages? We look forward to getting to know your project and are happy to stand by your side as professional consultants.

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Author: Jana Bulkin

Author: Jana Bulkin

Jana Bulkin, CEO S2Bconnected. Expert for sustainable business solutions. More then 20 years experience in IT for the insurance and finance sector.

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