Removing robotic processes from human jobs
Process automation is not about replacing humans with robots but more about removing robotic processes from human jobs. This is not just a play on words. Process automation’s early initiatives tried to automate individual jobs, which was one of the biggest reasons for failures and frustration. Since results included only small portions of tasks automated, enterprises were not able to achieve the true release of labor and generate the expected return on investment (ROI).
This has two clear implications – the first is process robotics needs process reengineering. Historically, companies manage most processes by an organization structure as opposed to crafting processes to optimize the flow of information and work. To achieve success, enterprises must re-imagine and re-engineer the entire process flow. Streamlining processes is critical even when automating small, micro tasks to ensure that automation itself doesn’t create extra work. For example, if a robot can’t manage some parts of a process, and that causes exceptions that require manual intervention, this handoff impacts the cycle time for the process automation, and destroys the ROI.
The second implication is that process automation ROI is directly proportional to scale of processes. This is an accelerating curve, and it is intuitive. Let’s remember why we believe process robots produce attractive ROI and productivity – essentially, they can do the same work faster, more accurately, and around the clock. We can assume these results impact the scale of processing.