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How to achieve early ROI in robotic process automation?

 
May 30, 2017

Simpler the better

When there is a potential to save $2 trillion in global workforce costs through automating 45% of work activities (according to PwC), no wonder enterprises are drawn to invest in robotic process automation (RPA). RPA is believed to demonstrate value realization faster than many other automation initiatives. RPA takes just about 25% of the time required for a business process workflow solution and 16% of the time taken for enterprise application integration to demonstrate significant value. One of the immediate perceivable benefits of RPA is cost reduction by employee optimization — freeing them from routine tasks to do jobs that demand high cognitive skills.

robotic process automation

Do not always measure thereturn on investment (ROI)of RPA on cost reductions alone. Include service improvement, transformative services, improved regulatory response, and growth as ROI parameters. ROI is also about weighing andrationalizing license, infra cost, development, and maintenance costs against projected returns. Calculating ROI requires detailed analysis of parameters unique to your organization. Some of the pre-requisites toachieve significant earlyROI are:

  • Identifying suitable tasks for automation
  • Carving out appropriate processes
  • Choosing the right systems

What kind of tasks are suitable for automation?

Target repetitive tasks, which robots can perform better than humans. For example, copying and moving data from one system to another. Tasks that have to be performed 24*7 will require humans working in multiple shifts and are therefore worthy candidates for RPA. Identify activities that are error prone or have high re-work rate. These kind of tasks are best done by software robots as well.

What should you remember when you select processes for automation?

One of the crucial factors in achieving high ROI is in understanding what can be achieved through RPA and selecting the right processes to automate. Automating a small process with time saving of few minutes per process can yield better savings over a year. For instance, RPA driven cost rationalization in horizontal processes such as HR, finance and accounting, procurement, contact center process are much faster than industry specific processes such as claims processing.

The biggest hurdle in value realization is the complexity of processes. Process complexity can increase with stringent regulatory requirements, geographies, and numbers of exceptions that can potentially stretch development and user-acceptance testing time. While you can expect to reach break-even in six months for simple processes, it may take you as long as two years for complex ones. Cost savings can vary from 10% to 50%, once again determined by the complexity of processes.

Confidential processes where there is a high risk in involving humans merit your scrutiny for robotic process automation as well.

How to choose the right systems for implementing RPA?

Opt for less dependency systems in the initial phase. Secondly, identify standardized processes in stable systems with minimal exceptions or variations. If there are frequent changes to the process or the system, then theprobability of failureis high.

Long term benefits of robotic processautomation include

  • Uninterrupted round the clock service
  • Elimination of individual dependency and cross training overheads as it is just about deploying robots with few configurations
  • Easily manageable and almost immediate resource ramp up and scale downs for situations that demand this approach
  • Defect free deliverables
  • Ability to audit every action, which can eventually become a feed for machine learning and AI
  • Credibility to handle highly confidential processes

In one of our recent implementations for a leading UK Insurance company, we deployed 90 robots to handle 2.19M business transactions and support 133 Live processes, resulting in annual savings of 3.85M. For some processes, it reduced the turnaround time fromdays to just minutes.

RPA implementation best practices

Chances of your business realizing early and good ROI ofrobotic process automationare more if you avoid operating in silos and try to maximize the opportunity to scale. As against opting for individual process automation in specific functions, build a foundation for a broader roll out. The actual roll out can be in phases once the foundation is in place. Also, by opting for a combination of both unattended and attended bots, you can realize faster ROI.

It only takes a small step to make a big difference!!

Visit us at Booth #5 at PegaWorld 2017 to find out more best practices.

Selvaraj Shanmugam is the Pega Practice Head for UK, EMEA, and APAC regions at TCS. In this role, Selvaraj is responsible for business growth in UK, EMEA and APAC areas, the primary customer interface, makes critical business decisions to meet customer expectations, identifies and allocates resources according to delivery requirements across UK, EMEA and APAC, and manages a delivery team to ensure timely and accurate customer deliveries. Selvaraj has more than two decades of IT and management experience and manages multi million dollar engagements.