“Hyperautomation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival,” said Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner. “Organizations will require more IT and business process automation as they are forced to accelerate digital transformation plans in a post-COVID-19, digital-first world.” This is why Gartner forecasts the worldwide hyperautomation-enabling software market to reach $532.4 billion this year. Given this development, it is also important for companies to take a serious look at RPA. 

According to Gartner’s definition, “hyperautomation is an approach that enables organizations to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many processes as possible using technology, such as robotic process automation (RPA), low-code application platforms (LCAP), artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistants.” But if there is no hyperautomation without RPA, where should you start?

First steps to RPA

Unless you occupy the C-Suite of your organization and are responsible for long-term strategic planning, you will need to find an executive sponsor or sponsors to assign your exploration of RPA. Look to the leaders of the Operations, Logistics, Innovation and Strategic Support teams you work with as primary stakeholders. You may need additional resources assigned as part of a project team whose members should represent expertise from different areas of the organization. If a project team is not possible, ask leaders to identify Subject Matter Experts (SME) from those areas to answer questions as you explore options.

Once your project team is established, begin by examining the current capabilities of your business. A key to the success of implementing RPA is to look for quick wins in current business processes. Consult your company’s Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) for the most current approved business process documentation that describes activities across business units. Defining the scope of work is essential.

Here are some questions to consider in choosing where to start with the implementation of RPA:

  • How many independent business processes exist?
  • Which processes take the most time and cost the company the most in materials and employee resources?
  • Does current documentation provide an accurate picture of how business processes truly happen?
  • What software solutions are used by your company? How are they integrated?
  • Which business processes are highly repetitive and best suited for automation?
  • Which processes could benefit most from intelligent document capture and RPA?
  • How would operations be impacted by RPA implementation in the short term?

Ideally, the first process to move to RPA should be able to be done in a sprint and tested for a few weeks, not months. Your analysis can act as a starting point for scheduling onboarding of other processes and business units to RPA in the future.

Use cases for RPA 

Besides building a key foundation for hyperautomation, RPA brings some important short-term benefits. For example, it allows businesses to automate a recurring, manual process so that building and maintaining the process is easy and cost-effective. Processes that are repetitive, predictive, rule-based, have low exception rates and high volumes and are mature or stable are best suited for RPA consideration. 

At a basic level, RPA can be used for manual processes such as “copy and paste” functionality, filling in data to populate a spreadsheet or running reports to post in a shared drive. Most likely, almost every department has tasks they do daily that require this basic functionality. Therefore, looking at deploying RPA pervasively throughout an organization is optimal.

Typical use cases for starting RPA projects include finance, accounts payable, customer or employee onboarding, insurance claims, processing loans, higher education transcripts and managing mailrooms, among others. Most organizations with a high volume of high-value documents that are used in repetitive processes are prime candidates for using an intelligent capture solution that feeds into an RPA solution. Additional and more specific use cases can be found here with 68 examples!

Mind the ROI and face the future

Without a look at ROI and taking a holistic hyperautomation approach of using multiple technologies, RPA initiatives are often doomed to fail sooner or later. RPA alone usually doesn’t result in success without using other technologies, such as intelligent document processing (IDP), AI, processing mining and others. IDP is a natural first step in the process to uncover and make data accessible. With the right data in a structured format, RPA tools will have a comprehensive dataset to deliver the best outcomes. IDP solutions route data into RPA systems, which then export data into other applications, such as business intelligence apps, ERPs, CRMs, workflows and other line of business systems.

Understanding your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will help you discover whether, for example, you need to measure cost savings in terms of headcount or perhaps what happened when you didn’t pay an invoice on time, resulting in fines. Or, do you need to survey your employees on if they prefer doing higher level, problem-solving and more creative work without doing mundane manual tasks? What is the cost of an audit and the preparation time versus a robot running a report and printing out all documentation within minutes or hours? Typically, as mentioned before, labor costs and time savings are the easiest to quantify. 

After you have gained the first results, it is time to take the data you have gathered on the benefits of RPA tools and apply them to a comprehensive plan for the future of your business, focusing on hyperautomation as a long-term goal. But as this is an even bigger project, don’t forget that a change management strategy is necessary for employees to embrace and welcome new technology. Incorporating innovation and technology changes into your culture takes time and understanding. But looking at the benefits hyperautomation can bring to your company, it will definitely be worth the effort.