Robotic Process Automation – The future of Business Process Management

Optimize. Standardize. Automate.

Before you can directly start implementing robotic process automation, we should first focus on optimizing all the processes, process flows and touch points. FIRST we have to reduce the redundancies and eliminate the NVA (Non value adding) steps and activities. Then we try to standardize as many of the variations as possible. Typically, within a global organization, there are many different ways to do the same process, many different forms for the same activity based on the country, region on the business unit they are for. Once these processes are standardized, it will immensely improve the efficiency of the entire operation that is tasked with delivering the service.

Lean-Six Sigma Redux.

The above two strategies have been tried out over a decade ago in the BPM industry. Almost all market leaders have leveraged Lean and Six Sigma methodologies and employed six sigma black belts to bring in the efficiencies and effectiveness. Many of these processes especially those that were in the back-office and transaction based were also streamlined through some form of automation or the other. So why the hype around RPA now?

To some extent it is old wine in a new acronym. But in reality, the real RPA occurs when we are able to leverage bots (short for process or service robots) to eliminate human intervention and interactions in the entire process. This takes the rules based automation to a whole another level. The best bots are able to leverage AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) concepts to self-learn and make intelligent decisions that impact the process outcomes – without human intervention!

So what are the benefits of RPA?

Besides reducing labor costs, it minimizes outcome variations and improves process consistency and accuracy. A secondary benefit is that the companies, where RPA is introduced, will see their attrition levels go down and stay more consistent and hence manageable. Process Associates will be able to focus on more creative and analytical activities thereby improving their professional development and job satisfaction levels. Reduction in the total manpower needed will allow companies, BPO and SSO centers to reduce their otherwise large facilities and Tech infrastructure, further reducing their costs and improving their profitability.

Can the current BPM resources be redeployed?

The future of BPM is quickly moving to higher end knowledge based work needing more creative and analytical skills. We have to review and retrain the current resources in some cases. This reskilling can be focused on those who are ready and willing and those who have learnt how to learn. Others will need to be redeployed in more transactional activities.