Robotization at scale: It’s not just about ‘more’ robots


By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software

Robotization can provide unparalleled cost savings on back-office functions for organizations of all sizes. But as a company grows, its supply chain, payroll, HR management and other essential functions become considerably more complex.

It’s here that traditional robotization can struggle – and it’s easy to see why. Desktop virtualization that emulates human activity brings its own overheads, from the need to spend time (and money) building each robot individually to the software package licenses required to be able to put them all to use.

Add in the need for a control tower (or, depending on the size of deployment, multiple control towers) and dedicated, skilled workforce to keep all the bots and towers running and it can get expensive very quickly.

An increase in expense and complexity while scaling desktop RPA is a best-case scenario. In reality, it’s simply not capable of the level of orchestration required to coordinate complex tasks or those involving machine-to-human hand-off, or vice versa.

Scale needs speed

Scaling critical processes is a vital goal for a growing business and in many cases reaching time to value (TtV) milestones depends on deploying new technologies quickly and efficiently.

Desktop, UI-based emulation of human tasks is ill-equipped to deal with the need for agile deployment (or redeployment) of robots and draws heavily on technical resources for programming. According to Accenture, if following RPA best practice, the ‘go live’ phase of projects involves a lengthy program of between nine and 16 months.

While it’s easy to get started with traditional RPA tools – they demo very well but don’t deal with production environments as smoothly – trying to scale them on-demand can lead to fragmented automation across different departments and systems. This fragmentation omits some of the biggest benefits of a more capable solution, such as a comprehensive library of pre-built robots that are ready to deploy.

This pre-programmed approach not only allows for rapid deployment and scaling of automated processes but also for easy redeployment of robots on new tasks by process owners, rather than technical staff.

The real magic to robotic scale is orchestration

For desktop RPA, more robots equals higher levels of automation. But it’s a limited approach that simply replicates human activity around the clock.

By taking a process-based approach, organizations can eliminate all unnecessary processes and repetitive human effort in the planning phase. So when it comes to scaling, you’re not adding to an already flawed set-up.

Across huge multi-national organizations, processes for ‘simple’ tasks (such as monthly close or onboarding a new employee) can be hugely complex and touch multiple departments and geographies – and that’s before considering the huge complexities of just-in-time supply chain management for businesses like a national retailer.

Automating each aspect of critical processes delivers more accurate process execution, as well as offering all the other speed and efficiency benefits of robotization. But crucially it also allows for inter-related and co-dependent processes to be fully automated, including the hand-off where human intervention or decision-making is required.

Consider a financial close. It’s a task that can have between 50 and 70 processes – and hundreds of sub-processes per business entity. The process starts in the retained organization and involves hundreds of emails being sent to cost center managers. Many of these don’t elicit the required information, which necessitates follow-up chasers for a response and adjusted numbers that can be sent to shared services for processing.

Now imagine this level of complexity of processes multiplied across every back-office task in every department, in every regional office. To extract maximum value from investments in robotics, end-to-end orchestration of automated tasks from a centralized control point is vital to helping scale robots within any organization.

When considered alongside the need for a perfect audit trail with full evidence for any decision-making, traditional desktop RPA falls even shorter when measured against more capable tools that allow true scaling of robotized processes. 

 

Categories:   Automation   Robotics   Business Process   Robotic Process Automation  
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