Digital Voices

Robotic process automation: a quick-fix to improve office productivity

Your organisation handles thousands of often minor, non-core procedures manually when they could be streamlined with relatively minimal IT investment and intervention. Making many small efficiency savings adds up to major gains, freeing your people to add more value.

Sorting customer correspondence, making basic KYC checks by consulting a range of websites and databases, or on-boarding customers to your IT system: these are all examples of routine tasks featuring semi-structured information which are ripe to be streamlined. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the key.

“Locate and download data automatically from disparate sources and convert them into a report, trigger notifications, and execute basic business processes: this and more is what RPA is about,” said Tom De Maeyer, Business Unit Manager Robotics at Ordina Belgium. “It is used mainly for non-core but time-consuming and low value adding activities,” he explained.

It is used mainly for non-core but time-consuming and low value adding activities.

Tom De Maeyer,  Business Unit Manager Robotics,  Ordina

Each of these non-complex processes might look small on their own, but when you add up the total time they take over a year, this can be weeks of often tedious work. “For example, your website might generate thousands of information requests. For an employee to read these and accurately forward them to the relevant department often requires considerable experience and concentration. Such processes with a broadly standard range of inputs are ideal to be treated with RPA,” Mr De Maeyer explained.

Know-your-customer (KYC) procedures begin with routine, standard, basic background checks: another example of where RPA excels. Information is collected from a variety of known sources – such as the web or databases – and then a report is compiled, and action prompted. “Human intervention is required to check that the initial information grab is accurate and complete, but much of the first phase of the repetitive legwork can be completed automatically,” Mr De Maeyer said.

The fundamental process is the same for numerous operational tasks performed by every type of organisation. Whenever it is a question of responding to semi-standardised inputs, running pre-formulated rules on data, and delivering outputs, RPA can be a game changer. Most often these are tools to be used by staff who can verify and add value. Key clients and key words can be set to flag that early human intervention is required in certain instances. Organisations can also add artificial intelligence functionality to perfect further this automated processing work.

Moreover, automated processes are less likely to make mistakes than members of staff manually processing extensive amounts of uninspiring standardised information. The RPA tool gets to work instantly rather than these data processing chores being put off until staff members feel sufficiently motivated or have had sufficient morning coffee.

“Another advantage is that these systems are scalable,” noted Mr De Maeyer. “A business might have processes which require intervention only at the end of the quarter or the year. Rather than having to hire and train temporary staff, or ask your permanent staff to put in extra work, these basic, repetitive processes can be handled electronically,” he added.

SAP has developed a powerful new product, which makes RPA easier to implement and to add functionality at low cost.

Tom De Maeyer,  Business Unit Manager Robotics,  Ordina Belgium

Time to market is short as these tools can be added onto existing systems, particularly if your processes are run on SAP. “SAP has developed a powerful new product, which makes RPA easier to implement and to add functionality at low cost,” said Mr De Maeyer. They and others have also developed stand-alone products which can be incorporated into systems. “So whether you are an existing SAP user, or you just want to use RPA as a stand-alone module, it offers an effective, scalable, time-saving option.”

When a system upgrade is being planned is a particularly good moment to consider building RPA into your processes. Also RPA can be used as a temporary bridge during a major digital transformation project. “When you move from one system to another, you need to replicate the connections between applications you have in the legacy system, and RPA can play that bridging role,” he added.

If you need more information about how RPA could work with your processes, please contact Jean Massin, Director of Ordina Luxembourg at [email protected]