Robotic Process Automation disruptive for existing business models ?

According to Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema it is key to have a focus on either Product Leadership, Customer Intimacy or Operational Excellence. The three disciplines need to be executed on an acceptable level and the organization should be an expert on one discipline.

However, recent technological developments offer the possibility to achieve to become an expert on Operational Excellence next to excelling on Customer Focus. Time spend in the past on operational execution can now shift towards adjusting services or products to the customer needs.

Is it really possible to excel on more than one discipline?

Yes! We believe it is possible. When an organization has achieved high quality and processing levels on Operational Excellence (6Sigma), time becomes available for value added activities. More focus will grow on customer needs and the opportunity to innovate will increase.

The key question is: how to achieve high performance in the Operational Execution?

Let’s take an example. A customer service department is responsible for processing orders, handling complaints, discuss price differences on invoices, process delivery notes and send invoices.

In many cases these processes are subject to human errors. Order information is not keyed in correctly, information from different systems in interpreted in the wrong way as these systems are not integrated. Invoices are being printed and send by post, to wrong customers or with delays with an impact on working capital. Processing these activities in the current competitive landscape is key but often not processed On Time and In full. Is the customer happy?

From managerial perspectives it would be great to process the activities on a customer service department 24/7, without mistakes, using fixed algorithms in the process. 24/7 management information on KPI’s, number of complaints, pricing discussions will decrease and the higher Operation Excellence-levels can be achieved. More time comes available for continuous improvement.

The technology is there. Software robots can facilitate the required Operational Excellence levels. Machine learning can be used to process better, faster and more accurate forecasts. Software robots operate fixed algorithms with no errors and without wrong interpretations. When a process cannot be executed by the robot, it will report it, be programmed new instructions and will continue the processing of similar exceptions in the future. This happens 24/7.

Software robots is the next big thing to achieve higher operational execution levels. Many organizations however ask themselves, where to start. Which processes can be robotized? Many advisors show that low investments and fast result can be achieved with robotizing for example the Procure-to-Pay process.

The RGP point of view

From a qualitative research RGP conducted we learned that indeed organization try to robotize financial process as a first step with Robotics Process Automation (RPA).  In many cases because the business case seems to good to be true.

The advice from the organizations participating in our survey to organizations starting to discuss RPA opportunities, is to first learn what RPA is, what the impact will be on the organization before taking high risk financial processes into the scope.

RPA has a big direct and indirect impact on each organization. Employees will show resistance to the developments related to RPA, which needs to be managed. The competency to build and maintain robots needs to be established. Resourcing strategy from an HR perspective needs to be renewed. Training of skills regarding data analytics, continuous improvement, communication and innovation need to be organized.

The success for implementing RPA lies in the preparation on the indirect impact to enable faster adoption within the organization.


by Michel Kuipers, Managing Consultant at RGP

Download the PDF version of this article here: 52ff0e80b07d28b590bbc4b30befde52

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