Humans and RPA Robots Working Side By Side: Are You Ready?

Peter Kurucz July 9, 2019

Software robots. The digital workforce is becoming more prevalent.

Currently, for the most part RPA is limited to small pilots in siloed functions. However, that will soon change once organizations figure out how to scale automation and overcome employee fears and reservations.

“According to McKinsey & Company, 60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their activities automated. ”

 

 What is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the use of software robots that can be programmed or trained to execute any repetitive, rules-based task currently performed by employees, such as data entry, data capture and categorization, copying and pasting, and many of the steps in such processes as billing and accounts payable, claims or loan processing, or order fulfillment.

Watch: what is RPA?

The most versatile RPA solutions are available in three different modes:

Traditional Robotic Process Automation

  • Executes repetitive, rules-based tasks 24/7
  • Common in back-office and shared services
  • Robot runs on virtual desktop without human involvement

Hybrid Automation in Action: Car Loan Financing

Hybrid Automation

A multinational financial services company wanted to become the automobile financing lender of choice. To do so, it needed to accelerate the adjudication process for dealer requests for financing.

Instead of having full-time employees manually sort loan applications into adjudicators’ queues based on specific parameters, the company took a hybrid approach to implementing RPA.

Now, when requests for financing are received, the system acknowledges the receipt and starts the data collection and review process (i.e., unattended mode). The system can flag anomalies in applications and prompt adjudicators on actions needed to rectify the issue (i.e., attended mode).

Through automation, the lender reduced the time it took to collect, assess and assign applications to adjudicators by 50 percent, freeing up 5 FTE for higher value activities. It also increased business because of faster turnaround times while removing 100 percent of human error from these process steps.

 

How Do You Create a Blended Virtual and Human Workforce?

RPA stats

Robots can unleash employee potential by removing low-value, tedious tasks, enabling employees to focus on customers and adding value to the organization, rather than on transactions. However, creating a smooth workflow and effectively planning resources – both robotic and human – is a journey organizations are just embarking on.

Identify Processes for Automation

Organizations need to take a measured, structured approach to identifying processes that are prime for automation: both unattended (high volume, error prone, repetitive, rules-based tasks/process steps) and attended (some automation with required human decision touch points). Click here for tips on prioritizing your organization’s processes for automation.

A solution like Verint Robotic Process Automation Discovery™ can help speed this process by recording activity on a selection of employee desktops to identify and map processes as they occur on your systems, capturing all events related to a process, including process variations.

The solution’s AI-enabled algorithms automatically sense processes and recommend prioritization for automation based on volume, frequency, complexity, and estimated cost of the process.

Better still, the process workflows created in Verint Robotic Process Automation Discovery can be ported directly into Verint RPA, speeding time to deployment.

 

Create a Holistic Capacity Plan

Capacity Model

To get the most from your digital and human workforces, you’ll need a capacity model that captures work performed by both, all on a single dashboard. This can help you understand the value gained by RPA. As efficiencies improve and new tasks and automations are added, you’ll need to update the model.

RPA can impact capacity in several ways, including:

  • A reduction in handle times for processes
  • Increased capacity that can be used to reduce backlog and overtime or the need for temporary help during peak season
  • Greater availability of resources to assist other departments
  • An opportunity for employees to take on more complex, challenging work – improving skills and job satisfaction.

Having a capacity plan that factors in both the digital and human workforce is critical to ensuring the efficiency savings created by RPA are captured by the organization.  If processing times and goals are not adjusted for your employees, the savings may never be realized.

 

Balance Workloads and Manage Performance

Workloads and Manage Performance

It’s critical to manage workloads and performance by automating the allocation of work and tasks between robots and humans, load balancing the output of robot work into the human queue and vice versa.

A workload dashboard can compare actual volumes vs. forecasted, and the amount of work to be executed vs. the available resource hours available, alerting managers to potential service level risks.

The dashboard should also provide a view of key performance indicators, which will be different for robots than for humans. Throughput (number of activities executed) might be a KPI for both, but the goals will be different due to the different task types executed. New ground is being broken here by applying performance metrics to the digital workers.

Robot KPIs include:

  • Throughput
  • Processing time by task
  • Time active by task type
  • Downtime
  • Task repetition

These dashboards, like the ones available with Verint Performance Management, give leadership visibility into how well the whole team is doing and where adjustments need to be made.

 

Update Training

Case management and knowledge management solutions

Software robots and employees will need continual training and updating as work volumes and types evolve.  For robots, this means creating scripts with rules and business logic applied to the tasks they are to perform.

Employees will need training on exception handling and more complex activities that require judgement and creative problem solving.

Case management and knowledge management solutions can help employees navigate the more complex tasks and processes and provide contextual, just-in-time knowledge resources for better decision making.

 

Address Cultural Concerns

Address Cultural Concerns

Educating employees and managers on the value and impact of RPA is critical. Many organizations are establishing RPA Centers of Excellence in an effort to address not only the technical aspects of scaling RPA across their organization, but the cultural aspects as well.

Be up front in addressing employee concerns (Will my job be taken over by a robot?) and emphasize the value RPA provides as a positive addition to the team. Also acknowledge that it will take time for your employees to trust that the robot is doing the right things, and that an issue with a robot won’t reflect poorly on them.

What will ultimately make employees comfortable with the new technology is a thorough understanding of why it’s being deployed, how it works and how it will help them and the company reach their performance goals.

Download the whitepaper: Creating an RPA Center of Excellence

 

Why Verint?

Woman leaning on desk using tablet

Verint offers the right technology, people and experience. Our RPA solutions support collaboration between business and IT stakeholders by blending ease of use with advanced capabilities for simplifying, modernizing and automating real-world, end-to-end business processes, including:

  • Identifying the applications that employees use the most, and highlighting tasks ideal for automation.
  • Mapping how work is actually being performed—all the paths and steps—so you can identify opportunities to streamline, improve and automate processes.
  • Allocating work and manage work queues for humans and robots automatically.
  • Forecasting and planning capacity needs for your hybrid workforce to align with work volumes and types.
  • Capturing and tracking KPIs for robots and employees –including the time savings and efficiencies of automation.

In addition to software, we offer consulting based on in-depth industry and technical knowledge developed through more than 20 years of experience at businesses of all sizes, across a broad range of industries. We have business process improvement experts with extensive experience in Six Sigma and Lean methodology.

Our Professional Services consultants can work with you from start to finish to craft a change management program for achieving the desired business outcomes. They can help you roll RPA out in a standardized, thoughtful way to build internal knowledge and maximize ROI.

Learn more about Verint Services