Under the pressure of digital changes and new technological possibilities, business processes have to be set up differently on a large scale. No matter whether this involves integrating large core systems at a bank or a telecom company, or collecting and entering information that is spread across various systems, everything has to be done quicker, better and more cost-effectively.
In this blog, I explain how companies can initiate a Business Process Management process by starting with Robotic Process Automation (RPA): using robots to perform tasks and activities that have traditionally been performed by people.
Business Process Management generally involves the complete redesign of business processes, from ‘as-is’ to ‘to-be’. Frequently this involves extensive processes that take a great deal of time and cost a lot of money. The motive behind such a redesign is to achieve better system integration that usually supports digitized services and services. Think of omni-channel in the retail and the financial sector, but also of multiple-play services in telecom that combine the Internet, mobile lines, land lines and TV. There is a growing need for a centralized on-boarding, control, acceptance and delivery process. To achieve this, various systems, information streams and business rules are brought together – preferably as quickly as possible.
Organizations also want to have greater insight into the processes, preferably based on dashboards. The challenge in terms of integration is that not all back-end systems offer great APIs and services, which means that the information frequently has to be manually processed from various sources. Business Process Management resolves this problem through seamless streamlining and integration of systems, but this is frequently too big a step. The advantage of RPA is that it allows you to start smaller.
Suppose that every Monday morning an office worker is asked to create an overview of the sales figures and actions taken by the competition, including the prices maintained in the market. The same boring actions every week: Log on to a system, go to a web site or another source of information, navigate between different screens, copy the desired data, and paste it in PowerPoint. Then e-mail the results to the manager. On a comparable – albeit much larger – method, peaks in the financial bookkeeping or in the on-boarding of new customers are also processed manually. A good 63 per cent of all these office tasks can potentially be handled by robots.
RPA takes over all these time-consuming, boring, error-prone manual tasks using the same method a physical welding robot uses in an assembly line: replacing tasks previously performed by people. And it does all this in a fraction of the time originally required. All that is required is to schedule the task. Companies can use this method to reap huge savings on the cost of personnel and temporary employees. An additional advantage is that these digital robots can work through the night, never get sick and never make mistakes. Not even under pressure.
Again: a complete, seamless integration of systems based on Business Process Management is frequently difficult and expensive. Robotic Process Automation is an interim solution. The business can profit immediately from time savings and quality improvements and gradually finance genuine re-design through a reduction in FTEs, for example.
The great thing about IBM’s RPA solution (with Automation Anywhere) is that the RPA tool set is part of the Business Process Management suite. Thus, companies can grow in terms of process integration and, if desired, add and release new services within the platform, such as cognitive computing and analytics. In place of the simple red or green figures in an automated business dashboard, fraud detection and sentiment analyses can be added based on newly released data sources, such as social media and other online information, for example. This is making organizations increasingly smarter and more efficient.
Want to know more? Come to the Business Process Transformation Congress in Utrecht on October 31st. Doug Coombs (IBM) will give a presentation about RPA in combination with Business Process Management.
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