Insurance brokers, healthcare technology companies, and financial services businesses gain from RPA. Source: Shutterstock

Insurance brokers, healthcare technology companies, and financial services businesses gain from RPA. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s exactly how much time RPA helps companies save

AUTOMATION is critical to organizations in this day and age, especially at a time when digital transformation is front and center for the board.

The easiest route to automation for most businesses is robotic process automation (RPA). In functions such as human resources, finance, marketing, and operations.

RPA is easy to implement, affordable even for the smallest of SMEs, and usually ranks high on employee adoption compared to more aggressive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT)-driven data platforms.

Despite these benefits, it’s hard to really imagine the results that RPA can produce.

Take a small team of 6 accountants in the finance division for example. RPA can automate the digitization of incoming invoices by adding entries to the company’s accounting package — but does it really boost productivity?

According to case studies of companies that have actually deployed RPA solutions, there’s actually strong evidence to suggest that there’s a lot that companies gain from the technology:

# 1 | Healthcare technology company saved 423,500 man hours with RPA

A global healthcare technology company with a presence in nearly 100 countries set out to automate 300 processes and aimed to save 900,000 man hours in finance accounting operations (record to report, order to cash, and procure to pay).

The team expected to automate another 80 processes in the financial planning and analysis (reporting and consolidation activities) workflow to save a cumulative 30,000 man hours.

Over the course of a year, working with an RPA technology vendor, the company was able to automate 140 processes with about 200 bots running round the clock. As a result, the team helped the finance accounting operations team save 400,000 man hours and the financial planning and analysis team save 23,500 man hours on average.

# 2 | Insurance giant aims for US$1 billion savings as a result of RPA

Zurich, a global insurance company with 54,000 employees in 210 countries and territories caters to individuals, SMEs, and large enterprises for a variety of purposes.

Automation, especially RPA, can definitely help such a company quickly improve its operations to climb the digital maturity curve and deliver a better service to customers across tiers.

Through the project, the insurer also wanted to achieve a US$1 billion of cost improvements.

Working with an international consulting giant, Zurich was able to deliver cost savings and service improvements across countless processes, whilst releasing up to 25 percent of operational team capacity to staff a new robotic center of excellence.

What’s key to their efforts, and long term success, is their creation of a robotic center of excellence — which will ensure their RPA projects continue to deliver improved results.

# 3 | A bank managed to bring error rates down to (almost) zero

ICICI Bank in India has deployed about 750 RPA bots that handle close to 2 million transactions per day. While no cost or time savings have been reported as yet, it’s interesting to see that human error has gone down significantly.

“These robots are being used across different operations and LoBs including retail, wholesale banking, forex, treasury, agro and international operations. And most of the robots deployed have been developed in house,” ICICI Bank India’s Senior GM and Head of Operations Anita Pai told the media.

For ICICI Bank, the benefits of moving to RPA have been significant.

“Error rates in processes have come down very close to zero, productivity has improved, and it has enabled us to become scale agnostic,” explained Pai.

What really matters when evaluating RPA efficiency?

Companies evaluating RPA solutions should document three things before and during the process to ensure that they’re making the most of their investment:

# 1 | Time saved as a result of RPA

RPA helps companies save a lot of time. There’s no debating that fact.

When evaluating an RPA solution, organizations need to find tasks within workflows that involve the most repetitive work and ensure that they’re focused on RPA-fying those immediately.

However, what’s most important when evaluating time saved as a result of RPA is ensuring that companies also find out how much of that saved time their employees are diverting towards productive efforts.

That’s where the real boost to the organization comes from, and that’s what’s key to deploying RPA in the first place — to make executives more productive.

# 2 | Savings from reduced human errors

Human errors are a big issue in many business workflows that involve repetitive, manual tasks.

Mistaking a comma for a dot on a printed invoice from a dot-matrix printer and an extra character in the name of a company from a dropdown are errors made quite often — no matter how careful the operator.

Using RPA, however, ensures such human errors are eliminated outright.

However, it is important to remember that RPAs aren’t usually AI-powered. They’re simple software robots that don’t learn on their own. Hence, monitoring (governance) is key to keeping RPA solutions efficient.

# 3 | Additional time needed for RPA governance

When businesses think about RPA savings and efficiency, they need to factor in the additional costs and hours they need to spend on RPA governance.

Without governance, bots can be quite difficult to manage and deviations go unnoticed and could cause the company to spend more hours fixing problems in the future, retrospectively, than benefiting from the automation.

Some business leaders might think that governance can be dealt with later on in the implementation process, but experts argue that getting the governance piece in place at an early stage helps recognize and mitigate common challenges and allows the business to continue to benefit in the long run.