Gartner: Robotic process automation (RPA) is a game changer
Revolutionising via Robotics; is a White Paper from Gartner who present a perspective on this emerging field from shared service leaders across the world.
Robotic process automation (RPA) could be a game-changer for shared services, states the research and advisor company Gartner.
RPA, also known as “smart automation” or “intelligent automation,” is an umbrella term for advanced software systems that are programmed to perform tasks that previously required human intervention. Other robotic solutions incorporate machine learning and include cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.
Providers of the new software say it usually costs about one-third of an offshore employee or one-fifth of an onshore employee, but it can work nonstop, with no human errors - if programmed correctly.
“With numbers like that, it is no wonder RPA has caught the attention of shared services organisations, which are designed to ultimately be cost savers and to provide consistent back-office processes and business support,” comments Gartner in the White Paper.
A few early adopters have implemented RPA and more plan to: in April 2015, about 30% of shared services executives indicated they had either implemented or were evaluating an RPA solution, and by November 2015 the numbers had grown to 45%.
Traditional automation v RPA
Gartner points out that The Institute for Robotic Process Automation uses the analogy that traditional automation is like cruise control on a car and RPA is more like a self-driving car.
“Traditional automation keeps your organisation moving at one speed but can’t easily adapt to shifts in the environment. RPA identifies different conditions based on a given set of rules and adjusts for those changes by following the rules,” comments the White Paper.
According to the report RPA software systems can interact with multiple, existing applications just as a person would by moving a computer mouse. They can manipulate data, set off responses and “talk” to other computer systems.
RPA solutions might also be able to “review” reports and flag problems. They have the same level of security and access as a person, but they can work without interruption.
Six-step guide to RPA:
- RPA is not one product or tool
There are multiple RPA solutions in the marketplace, and each one is designed to perform in different ways. If you decide to adopt RPA, you need to evaluate various products to identify which offering best fits your company.
- RPA runs separately from applications and systems
The software runs separately from your underlying systems and can be implemented and altered. However, it does require human work for quality control and maintenance.
- RPA is faster, cheaper and easier
Business analysts with a clear understanding of process and workflow can program RPA technologies - without training or coding knowledge.
- RPA is scalable
There is no limit to the number of human activities or processes that are candidates for RPA. Accounts payable, customer feedback capture and sales quote preparation are among the most popular candidate processes.
- RPA doesn’t always replace outsourcing
The ability to displace repeated human work with RPA negates the strategy of cost sourcing, but that does not mean the end of outsourcing.
- Shared services leaders need to initiate change
In October 2015, Gartner hosted a roundtable for heads of shared services on the future of the function. “Multiple companies in attendance admitted that their IT functions were not knowledgeable about RPA’s capabilities. Implementation started when shared services leaders brought information about and opportunities for RPA to their IT counterparts.”
Feedback from shared service leaders includes:
“We achieved cost savings and productivity benefits through the initial consolidation of activities via a shared services model, and we have gained additional cost savings by further refining our processes and outsourcing wage arbitrage. We now see automation as the logical next step on our journey,” said Business Systems Support Manager, Energy & Utilities Company, $20+ billion in revenue.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.