How to build a Business Case for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Whichever way you look at it, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers huge opportunities for businesses. And this has only been further reinforced during the current COVID-19 pandemic where companies are under more pressure than ever to stay in business by driving cost efficiencies.
In addition, getting staff to complete manual processes while they are working from home or fragmented across various remote locations has proved to be challenging. So, the ability to partially or fully automate mundane tasks can be a great benefit both to the organisation and keeping staff fully engaged.
But RPA also comes with its fair share of fear and doubt. Is it actually a job-killer that employees should be concerned about? Is it a passing fad that is more hype than help? And even if you do choose to embark on an RPA integration project, how can you get the buy in or funding needed to get it up and running?
In this article we’ll explore the major benefits RPA can bring and how you can use that information to build a solid business case for its implementation so you can drive future success for your organisation.
Key benefits of RPA
When planning to put together a business case for expanded RPA for your company, one challenge you must overcome is addressing any common fears or concerns around the technology by highlighting the benefits of RPA. While the name might conjure up an image of endless robots on assembly lines, RPA is in fact far more related to software, and can have a very broad range of applications.
In most cases, the types of tasks it’s best suited to are tasks that are highly repetitive or time consuming for humans to perform. This has the dual benefit of being more cost effective as well as freeing staff from mundane tasks so they can focus on higher level or more strategic activities. It helps reduce compliance errors and risk by taking human error out of the equation of mundane tasks where mistakes can easily occur.
Because most RPA is software based, and powered by ever improving artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, it is now possible to automate a very wide range of tasks. This can include data heavy work such as data entry or data cleaning and preparation like data that feeds into sales or marketing processes. RPA can also improve your company’s data security as it enables you to aggregate, track and access any sensitive data to on centrally located systems, rather than being dispatched to or moved between staff working from remote locations which is far less secure.
It is well suited to transforming a range of sales related tasks including data replication, invoice generation and delivery, and customer relationship management. It is additionally a great tool for improving customer service operations and efficiency. Any repetitive tasks such as making and tracking customer interactions or triaging requests can be automated. This helps provide real time information on your end-to-end customer journey, ensures customers are directed to the best person to handle their request, and results in quicker response times for customers.
Building your case
The nature of your business case will depend on the exact types of tasks you’re looking to automate as well as the scale of the RPA integration you want. No matter the project, you should try and employ the following strategies to build the most robust, compelling case and realistic business case:
- Focus on the problem, not the solution – you should base your case on a real problem the organisation faces today. This helps draw attention to a tangible benefit that can be realised immediately, rather than an abstract future goal that is harder for management to envisage and get on board with.
- Show in detail how individuals will benefit from RPA – despite many misconceptions, RPA is not about to lead to massive job losses. Instead, you should frame its potential to improve staff morale as they work collaboratively with RPA systems that reduce their workload on repetitive and mundane tasks and frees them up to work on more value-add activities.
- Pay attention to your wording/phrasing – the words you use to frame the discussion are important. Focus on using positive terms that refer to relieving the burden on teams and helping teams be more productive.
- Talk trends – draw upon evidence of competitors using RPA, current market trends, and predictions of where the competition and your organisation will need to be in the near future.
- Utilise testimonials – use testimonials from real-world RPA stories and case studies from clients or competitors to demonstrate that RPA is effective and can be trusted.
- Establish team training opportunities – offer ideas for educating and training teams and staff on using and collaborating with RPA to mitigate fear of job losses and to help overcome inertia.
- Discuss the financial implications – build a case that is strong on data and metrics. Start first with the negatives by highlighting the actual cost implications of NOT introducing RPA. Detailing the negatives helps management recognise that there is a real financial cost to the company not utilising the best available technologies. Then switch focus to the positives. Highlight that you’ll be able to reduce tasks times and costs, improve overall productivity, and improve staff and customer satisfaction.
- Look at ROI over 3 years not one – Vendors typically offer free services in year 1 and escalate costs in year 2 and 3. Include implementation, licencing, infrastructure, and support costs. If your RPA bot is working across multiple systems, check whether certain vendors charge additional licencing costs – treating the digital worker bot as another system user.
- Ensure you include a break/fix budget in your business case – RPA bots automate highly rule-based processes. Any changes in underlying systems can cause the bots to stop working.
Presenting the case
Now all you need to do is present your case. Make an impact by demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to prepare a detailed business case and use the data you’ve compiled to your advantage. Use real numbers wherever possible including the exact tasks you want to fully or partially automate, what hardware or software resources are required, which staff members will be impacted by the new technologies, and how the tech will be integrated into wider processes.
But always remember to focus your case on telling a story. You should frame it in such a way that it isn’t just about asking for additional money for the tech. Instead, your story should be centred around how RPA can help the company resolve a problem in a meaningful way. Then all that’s left is to get the ok from management after they were impressed by your research and delivery of the business case.
If you would like to learn more about how to boost the productivity of your organisation by utilising the latest technologies or need assistance in building a compelling business case, talk to ECLEVA.