Support Your Digital Transformation with Robotic Process Automation

Support Your Digital Transformation with Robotic Process Automation

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: RPA 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 RPA?

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.

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.

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 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.

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 RPA 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 RPA.

 

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 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 RPA 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.

How to Master the Digital Transformation Successfully

“We need to advance the digital transformation!” This is a frequent statement in various discussions, be it on the subject of education, finance or administration. As important and correct as this request might be, we should first be on the same page of what the digital transformation entails. That’s why this article outlines the diverse fields of action for digitalization as well as the accompanying challenges, opportunities and future outlooks.

Do you know the important fields of action in digitalization?

  • The IT division needs to be included from the outset for each business model as at least an equal branch of the company.
  • A flexible and agile digital organizational structure of the company increases the ability to act and general resilience to crises.
  • For employees, it is crucial to be able to work remotely in an effective way which also offers enough space for communication. Social aspects are important, such as the online meeting culture, the handling of technological progress, internationalization and the growth mindset. Each employee should be familiar with and create future prospects of the company and thereby take the opportunity of initiating progress themselves.
  • A trustworthy and transparent style of leadership is closely connected with the digital field of action of the employees. Being a role model when it comes to digital aspects of growth mindset, social behavior and internationalization is as much a part of that as is 360 degree feedback. Good leadership combines the components of modern management and of an inclusive leadership style.
  • If not already in place, now is the time to think of marketing and sales digitally. An online presence is indispensable, be it with a website with an online shop, online advertising, social media channels or a combination of these options. A CRM becomes the central component in the sales process around the product and for customer communication./li>
  • In the production branch, the focus is on setting up flexible supply chains and calculating downtime scenarios in the event of an emergency. Dynamic planning and response is advantageous and the issue of automation must be taken into account. Industry-specific strategic characteristics, such as Industry 4.0, should be further expanded by means of supporting technologies.
  • Supply chain management follows a similar pattern as production does – an agile supply chain ensures flexibility. Proof of origin and quality certificates result in an increased transparency vis-a-vis a growing global awareness of sustainability.
  • In IT as the central area of digitalization, professionally created, agile application and service landscapes are required. Continuous innovation calls for simple and creative networking in order to achieve stability. Cloud-based services and platforms such as SaaS, PaaS and IaaS help to achieve this. The vertical range of manufacture is increasingly being reduced, which in turn leads to more freedom for innovative change processes.
  • Last but not least, digitalization also makes expertise in cyber security essential. It is a matter of closing data security gaps which can arise as a result of constant technical progress. Here, too, you can make use of existing services on the market to quickly and professionally identify the necessary fields of action.

It is all about the harmony of People, Processes and Products and the capability to make courageous decisions.

Jana Bulkin, CEO of S2BConnected

Be prepared for these obstacles:

In September of 2019, KPMG’s Future Readiness Index found that the majority of German companies had a positive outlook for the future, but that risk management had taken a downward turn in their self-assessment. While 27 percent of companies still invested to adapt to changes within the global economy in 2018, only 18 percent did so in 2019. And lo and behold – barely a quarter later this very aspect was completely put to the test. So it’s not surprising that just short of half of all German companies on the 2020 index said that investing in managing crises and conflicts of international proportions was a high or the highest priority. In the previous year, only 13 percent of companies agreed with this.

While digitization was almost forced by the pandemic to move forward at a rapid pace, it is now important to act prudently and upgrade in key aspects such as IT security and structure. Risks and escalating costs must be anticipated and minimized, while the digital workplace should be optimized for sustainability and effectiveness. The flexibility to react appropriately to crisis situations, to have plans on hand for a state of emergency, and to find the right balance between cooperation and independence is thus one of the key challenges of digitization. However, achieving this heavily depends on political decisions. Decision-makers do not always see the forward-driving progress as clearly as experts do, and for this reason digitization is often kept on a tight leash in a variety of areas.

Food for thought: It needs the flexibility to respond appropriately to crisis situations and the availability of plans for a state of emergency. Finding the right balance between cooperation, independence, speed and flexibility is therefore the central challenge of digitization.

With demographic change comes a challenge that has been foreseeable for years. As the average age of society and thus of potential customers rises, so does the need for change in digital customer needs. This does not always require a complete alteration of the system, but it does require foresight to protect investments that have already been made. One solution is to use artificial intelligence or machine learning technology, which in turn support predictive maintenance and customer retention.

But beyond that, customer needs are continuously changing even without demographic change. Fresh trends emerge as quickly as they disappear, which is why an informed assessment is needed about which product or service has a future; where it is worth deploying; and which trends will quickly evaporate. The sustainability awareness of customers, on the other hand, can hardly be called a trend these days – this has manifested itself especially during the last decade and should always be considered on a digital level as well. Professional input is therefore undoubtedly required in order to meet all needs and be dynamically structured at the same time.

Turn Your Obstacles into Stepping Stones

It is these very challenges that give rise to opportunities in the various fields of action of digitalization. Here, too, the pandemic can no longer be removed from the big picture. In a sense, the restrictions of the lockdown were a catalyst for entrepreneurial progress in terms of working models, conditions and trends as well as general digitization, which in turn leads to a resilient business design. This drive for digital transformation can be used to digitally reorganize and optimize those areas of the company that are appropriate. Economic dominance in various key technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data, is fiercely contested internationally, which is why it is worthwhile for companies to always keep an eye on technological progress, its origins and to include them into their strategy.

Dare to Have a Look at the Future Today

It is certainly not a brand-new insight when we say that our future, the digital tomorrow, is being shaped right now. Its success depends above all on whether, how and which current opportunities are seized and challenges mastered. The resulting visions of the future could not be more contrary. In the event of further stagnation and sluggish progress, a handful of states or corporations will stand at the pinnacle of global power, dictating the economy, digitalization and progress, while the world’s population is forced to comply. Or, in a positive scenario, Europe and the world are joining forces: Technology is used at the service of people instead of the other way around, the world’s knowledge is freely accessible at all times, and societal challenges are resolved with the help of ethically sound, sustainable, and efficiently integrated technology.

It is now up to us to make the latter vision a reality, to influence the digital transformation in the right places, and thus to shape our shared future.

Pin It on Pinterest