One of the classic self-help books ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ suggests that we focus on the big important issues rather than small things that can derail us. Great for individuals, maybe, but organisations do it at their peril.
Organisations, every day, need to focus on the small stuff. From making sure data is inputted correctly, to answering basic customer queries. The small stuff is the detail that makes the difference between a great customer experience and a growing list of problems.
However, there is a massive challenge in achieving this. Because the small stuff is time-consuming and deadly dull for employees, mistakes occur and employees don’t feel a sense of fulfilment from their jobs. This challenge can now be addressed through Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – the automation of rules based, rote activities – and it can free employees from what they perceive as the drudgery of everyday repetitive tasks.
Automation has been around for a long time. Decades ago, the Fiat Strada car advert showed machines building cars to the tune of Figaro. The tagline was Handbuilt by robots. Fiat had worked out that physical robots were brilliant at repeating basic tasks perfectly, 24/7, 365 days a year.
The principle behind ‘robotic’ production line technology can now be applied using software to virtually every area of society, to increase productivity, reduce costs and give staff time for interesting and more valuable activities.
RPA can be used tactically and strategically. It is relevant across most sectors and business processes. Some organisations just need to reduce the ‘noise’ in their operations. They can improve accuracy, efficiency and reduce customer complaints. RPA delivers here.
Strategically, RPA is a step on the journey towards digital transformation, creating digital at the core of the organisation, where processes are digitised end to end. To make the transition, RPA provides an organisation the runway to define and implement their digital transformation strategy.
That said RPA is not the answer to all things and it only one aspect of a broader intelligent automation strategy. If you want to exploit RPA, it’s important to understand where it is best applied:
- A house builder whose customers were not receiving enough information about how their new house was progressing. Employees weren’t responding to customers in a timely and consistent way and introducing RPA meant automatic, regular updates were sent out and customer complaints declined.
- Estate and letting agents using RPA for complex administration of house sales and lettings, effectively tracking the end to end process and automatically requesting information to complete a process. This reduced landlord churn by 40% and increased revenue generation by 10%.
- An insurance company utilising RPA as a customer portal on its website to allow client self-service at any time rather than being restricted to office hours.
Whilst there is a lot of noise (still) about RPA being used for headcount reduction, this is not reinforced by our experience talking to clients to understand their motivation to use RPA. In fact, anecdotally, less than 20% used RPA to achieve headcount reduction. Much higher was the need to improve accuracy, remain compliant and improve customer satisfaction.
If you are considering implementing RPA in your organisation, it tends to have a strong business case and quickly pays for itself so it’s definitely worth while exploring. As well as improving business results, it will make jobs more interesting and enjoyable, retaining and attracting talent. In a recent workshop, a participant said she ‘couldn’t wait to be free of the Excel spreadsheets’! I’m very happy to help her achieve more enjoyment of her day job.
Please leave a comment or get in touch if you’d like to explore how RPA can work for your organisation.