Sumit Srivastav, Partner & Leader - Intelligent Automation, PwC India, 0
Robotic process automation (RPA) is software-based automation that mimics the way humans interact with digital systems. RPA software bots can replicate human actions to execute structured, rule based, labor intensive tasks. They can log into applications, enter data and interact with any application or system the same way humans do except that the RPA bots can operate round-the-clock, non-stop, faster and with 100 percent accuracy.
RPA is noninvasive technology and can accelerate automation by streamlining process steps, thereby enabling organizations to be cost-effective, resilient, and responsive. RPA also contributes to employee satisfaction and increased productivity by eliminating mundane tasks.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that organizations from various sectors are utilizing RPA.
Here are some examples of how RPA can bring value across sectors.
a.Healthcare- The healthcare industry is dealing with an increasing patient population and an overload of data-intensive administrative processes. RPA can reduce the workload required to perform repetitive tasks such as patient entry processing & maintenance of patient records. This helps hospitals to reduce cost and enables their workforce to spend more time on patient well-being. RPA can reduce the errors in processes such as claims processing, thereby helping healthcare personnel to deal with large volumes of patient inflow more effectively.
b.Manufacturing- The manufacturing sector has already transformed its plants and streamlined production by using ‘Physical robots’. But, there is an overarching requirement for a new-age technology such as RPA to help organizations focus more on product innovation and value-added activities. For example, RPA can automate end-to-end purchase order creation process and give accurate and swift results, which will assist organizations dealing in vast categories of products. RPA can also automate inventory management, accounts payable and receivables.
c.Insurance- Insurance sector is flooded with overflowing amounts of routine, repetitive and monotonous tasks leading to additional costs, decreased efficiency and low levels of customer satisfaction. RPA can truly be the technology that can significantly help the insurance sector become well organized, cost-effective and customer centric. RPA can eliminate the need for paper based processes by automating claims processing through the integration of claims data from various sources, thereby improving the speed and accuracy of the entire process. RPA can be utilized to create a digital workforce that will enable customer service representatives to focus on resolving customer queries, providing product information and in addressing service requests more effectively and in realtime.
Implementation of Robotic Process Automation in The Banking Sector
According to PwC’s annual global CEO survey, almost 81 percent of banking sector CEOs are concerned about the speed of technological change, more than any other industry sector. The banking sector is faced with perennial challenges to maximize efficiency, keep the costs down and maintain maximum security levels. Robotic Process Automation, as a solution to these exigencies, can really become a powerful and effective tool. The banking sector has been quick to realize this, as the sector has been a front runner in adoption of RPA. Banking organizations have started utilizing RPA on a massive scale for making time-consuming banking operations more organized and automated. The Banking and financial sector is the largest contributor of revenue for RPA product and service offering companies.
Banks must tackle thousands of processes on a daily basis. RPA-based bots can take control of the repetitive processes performed by humans, spearheading digital transformation in the banking sector. Let's look at few use cases to understand how RPA can simplify the banking processes –
•RPA can assist banks in better compliance & control. RPA bots can work 24x7 to scan through transactions to identify compliance gaps or regulatory breaches and quickly inform the relevant personnel, ensuring swift action.
•RPA can help banks save time spent on validating the accuracy of customer information. RPA enables banks to automate the process of collecting, screening, and validating customer information, thereby achieving a seamless KYC process.
•The use of RPA to process credit card applications can significantly reduce the turnaround time. RPA bots can scan through credit card applications, customer credit history and documents within a few hours and dictate customer eligibility based on predefined rules.
•Labor intensive processes such as mortgage and loan processing, which otherwise cumbersome, can become straightforward, accurate and faster. RPA bots can follow set rules and clear potential bottlenecks, speeding up mortgage & loan processing.
RPA Becomes A Key Part Of An Organization’s Digitalization Journey As Well As A PowerfulProcess Transformation Technology, That Significantly Improves Efficiency, Increases Productivity And Reduces Costs, As Long As Proper Steps Were Taken To Execute A Discerning Implementation Strategy
Product Implementation Stages
RPA becomes a key part of an organization’s digitalization journey as well as a powerful process transformation technology, that significantly improves efficiency, increases productivity and reduces costs, as long as proper steps were taken to execute a discerning implementation strategy. The first decision that organizations need to make, pertains to the processes that are to be automated. Usually, organizations start with low-hanging fruits, i.e. processes that are completely standardized, involve repetitive tasks and require low manual intervention. After successfully automating these processes, organizations go for more complex ones.
One of the reasons for increased adoption of RPA is due to the rapid pace of innovation in automation solutions brought to the market by various RPA software vendors. These automation solutions are capable of interacting with different systems, handling the given workflow to perform rule-based activities with logical start and end points. Based on the organization’s requirements, digital maturity and technology landscape, appropriate platforms are selected for solution implementation; organizations should be very specific in choosing an appropriate tool based on their needs.
The different stages of Automation solution implementation can be divided into four broad categories Identifying & Assessing, Designing, Development & Testing, Hypercare & Support.
•Identifying & Assessing- The first step is to identify suitable processes based on complexity and feasibility. Types of Inputs, applications used, process variations, exceptions are some of the factors considered, while assessing the feasibility and complexity of a process. Then performing a detailed, wide and narrow scan across these processes to determine the best-fit process for automation
•Designing-The design phase includes gathering the requirements at the keystroke level, designing a 'To-be solution' based on the information collated, identify any existing reusable components that can be leveraged to fast-track the development cycle and ensure all the development prerequisites are in place.
•Development & Testing- The agreed-upon solution is developed in iterative stages. The development team creates configurations, scripts and program code using RPA tools. Once the development is complete, thorough testing is done to study performance in all conceivable scenarios and to weed out bugs when the process is executed.
•Hypercare & Support - Hypercare is a unique stage in RPA implementation journey- RPA bots need to be supervised by humans to ensure smooth functioning after critical go-live period. Once it is ensured that the solution works effectively in the production environment, the IT support team takes over, to provide support for bugs resolution and change management over the lifecycle of the automation solution.
Future of Robotic Process Automation
The COVID-19pandemic has brought about unprecedented changes in how organizations function. The pandemic has redefined the way work, workplace, workforce operate, which has further amplified the adoption of emerging technologies such as RPA. With this current situation, organizations have embarked on a further journey of attaining complete automation, thereby evolving to the next stage of Intelligent Automation which involves integrating other advanced technologies.
Intelligent automation is the layering of technologies such as smart optical character recognition (OCR), cognitive automation(AI & ML), natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) over RPA, thereby enabling organizations to transform the way they work. Intelligent Automation has become mainstream as organizations move higher up the digitalization maturity curve. Fast-evolving product capabilities, complemented by the ease of use for non-developers, are fueling market growth and enabling citizen-led innovation in Intelligent Automation (IA) adoption. Using IA, organizations can augment their core human-driven processes, unlocking the value across all areas of the business.
To reach the summit of digitalization, organizations need to develop robust & scalable automation capabilities. Having the right technologies is just one aspect of it; the others are having the right framework for governance and having participation in the automation journey from the larger organization. One way to do this, is by establishing a robust Center of Excellence, which acts as a central backbone for governance, helping the business achieve automation transformation at scale. Governance facilitates scale, by standardizing automation processes and providing a central library for knowledge management, using tools and frameworks for opportunity identification, process assessment, design and development of Digital Assets.