RPA delivers rapid ROI: here’s how

Joe Keating, Glantus

Substantial increases in productivity and performance are available through robotic process automation

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22 March 2019 | 0

When we think of robots in an industrial setting, the typical image is the crane-like metal arm on a manufacturing assembly line, but software is transforming this picture. Companies in fields like banking, retail, and insurance are transforming their businesses with robots – more exactly, robotic process automation (RPA). Adoption rates are hitting a peak as companies can now deploy robots quickly and efficiently, with fast return on investment. Businesses are getting big benefits by re-engineering their processes to use RPA, almost overnight.

RPA is ideal for taking mundane, simple, repetitive tasks and executing them 100 per cent accurately, every time. In our experience, organisations using RPA have seen a substantial increase in productivity and performance while the quality of their data has also improved.

To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean outsourcing an entire business process to a robot – although in many cases that is true. Many of our customers are using robots that we’ve designed to work in tandem with people. This type of robot is called a co-bot or collaborative robot. This approach frees up an organisation’s people to do more productive, high-value work like spending more time on building and nurturing customer relationships rather than watching the clock, knowing they have to cut a call short in order to manually input payment details or other admin tasks.

Glantus has deployed RPA for McCarthy Insurance Group, one of Ireland’s largest insurance brokers, to enhance seven of their business processes, with five others in development.

The company has already seen some quick wins since using RPA. MIG has many repetitive processes that can only happen at the end of the working day. It can now hand these routines to a robot, which has eliminated dependency on operations staff to oversee this process out of normal business hours.

In one of the strongest examples, MIG has 160 of its 180-strong staff in customer-facing roles. When it came to handling payments, invariably, human error and double entries meant that 10 per cent of transactions had errors that took an hour per day to rectify in each of the company’s 14 offices. Now, a co-bot handles the payment, issues a receipt and logs a record of the transaction into the company’s CRM system. This is a huge saving in staff time and therefore cost, while improving the accuracy of its records. This has also helped to solve a GDPR challenge by guaranteeing that the payment receipt goes to the right customer.

“Organisations using robotic process automation have seen a substantial increase in productivity and performance while the quality of their data has also improved”

Tony Hickey, MIG’s group operations manager, estimates the company will have automated 20 processes by the time the project is finished. “It probably paid for itself after process four, and everything after that is a win, and the cost was very affordable. There was no big requirement for hardware, so for a business of our size, RPA was a no-brainer.”

One of the keys to the success of this project was spending time at the start to align the 14 independent databases in each branch office into a single database. This meant MIG can deploy a robot to be responsible for a new task across all branches without needing to give it 14 different sets of instructions. It also means that if MIG acquires another broker firm, it can quickly deliver RPA to the new business.

As with most projects, a good start is half the work, as the saying goes. Our approach at Glantus starts with discussing a customer’s existing processes (and challenges) in a workshop to capture the current ‘as is’ state and then create the future ‘to be’ process in a simple flow diagram. This conversation lasts one hour, and we find it typically uncovers a lot of unnecessary steps. We have found that introducing RPA to a process usually leads to a 90-95 per cent reduction in manual effort. Once you have that process defined, the creation of the robot usually happens within a few days, powered by our unique data platform, and the move from testing to deployment in production can be done in a number of weeks.

What’s more, there’s minimal overhead on IT departments as robots run on standard hardware and are on-boarded just like a new employee. The software is deployed on a single machine, with an agent installed on the end user’s desktop if it is a co-bot, then it’s ready to run 24/7. From the perspective of an IT leader, a fast return on investment, along with time and cost savings, combine to make RPA a compelling proposition for any business.

Joe Keating, chief data officer, Glantus

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