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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Nostrum or Panacea?

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) continues to make significant impacts across business processes across all verticals. Experts and Gurus are extolling its virtue as a cure-all for process transformation – one that yields eye-watering ROI, step-change efficiency gains, and 100% accuracy – by getting rid of all human foibles and flaws. Today, a plethora of opportunities float around as customers (CIOs, CFOs, COOs, and Shared Services Heads) are quite desperate to clutch on to this next-gen vehicle and showcase quick and yielding results. Transformation professionals of every hue, from service providers to RPA software companies to consulting firms, are strutting around with beguiling case studies and compelling approach papers.

But is this a Nostrum or is it really the panacea of all ills? Will your processes, be it in finance, HR, procurement, or order management, be world-class with RPA? Evidence suggests that it is about getting started small and expanding into critical processes and not expect to automate everything in the first attempt.

Case 1: Employee Onboarding – A Very large global enterprise used RPA to automate its Employee Onboarding Process. The process included large amounts of data to be read, understood, and processed in multiple ERP Systems. The Automated Solution increased process efficiencies by >90% and decreased the time to onboard by >80%. 

Case 2: With the best intentions, an extractive industry giant has been able to automate less than 25% of its finance processes (AP and AR – touted as a great place to start RPA) with negligible efficiency benefits and huge implementation challenges

Case 3: With the same team and the same software as Case 2, a telecom manufacturer has yielded +40% productivity in Year 1 itself (reducing its outsourced team size from 100 to 60) by RPA. 

These 3 case examples show variances in RPA implementation. Success is aplenty, but failure is also true when planning and execution are not proper.

In Case 2, RPA was tried on a fragmented, complex set of processes that had not been improved and shaped for years. The Automated Process was nothing but robots mimicking human actions and recreating the same inefficiencies that existed – only doing it faster. And hence the efficiencies clocked less than expected.

In Case 1 & 3, the RPA Journey was planned well and started with Robotization. But it followed by consolidation, harmonization, and simplification of the processes along with the robotization. This produced astonishing results. Most of the enterprises which have seen success with RPA follow the same model.

RPA is not a fad! It is here to stay! It is here to generate great returns! But only if used correctly with the right expertise, right governance, and right execution. 

We at Netlabs have been working on the perfect potion and guiding principles for our customers to ensure that RPA does not become a Nostrum and actually turns out to become a Panacea for the enterprise. We @ Netlabs have created a simple yet very effective framework for RPA Projects. Our Framework ensures the following

  • Understanding the state of the customer processes first. Asking the fundamental questions: Is the process fit for purpose? How does it compare to the best in the industry and globally?
  • Thinking Tactical vs Strategic: Unleashing the full potential of change. Using the proven Netlabs Transformation Framework to ascertain the maturity across the axes of Simplification, Automation, Experience, and Analytics.
  • Creating and following a tailored roadmap of design and implementation. It is worthwhile investing in the upfront process re-imagination through expert Design Thinking.
  • Treating RPA, AI, or any related platform as what they are – a force to re-imagine and future proof.

So Robotic Process Automation turning into either a Nostrum or a Panacea is in your own hands. Needless to say, the end goal is about the outcomes that will matter to your business: Efficiency, Experience, and Economics.

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