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The Hackett Group predicts rise of robotic process automation

RPA promises to make certain back-office business processes vastly more efficient by taking over manual tasks

Large chunks of enterprise back-office functions, including finance, human resources (HR) and procurement, are set to adopt robotic process automation (RPA) to improve efficiency.

Tasks such as data entry, reformatting, rekeying information from one system to another, basic calculations and orchestration are among the manual tasks RPA can be used for.

According to The Hackett Group, RPA technology providers claim to be able to deliver as much as 60-80% in savings – while also achieving significant improvements in quality, productivity and speed.

The Hackett Group’s most recent research, Robotic process automation: a reality check and a route forward, found that although current RPA adoption remains low, that will change over the next two to three years.

Just 3% of finance departments currently use RPA, but this is set to rise to 38% within two to three years. Procurement is set to rise from 10% to 30% over the same period, while HR’s usage of RPA will increase from 3% to 11%.

Nearly 60% of finance departments and 38% of procurement departments are currently exploring or piloting RPA technology, while about one-third of HR departments have RPA pilots in place.

To get started with an RPA initiative, The Hackett Group recommended businesses to deconstruct a back-office process.

Read more about robotic process automation

  • Enterprises are embracing robotic process automation to automate rules-based, repetitive tasks in a cost-efficient manner. ROI depends on having the right RPA architecture.
  • A sound digital transformation plan gives companies the ability to change quickly. Business process management suites and robotic process automation – used together – do that.

It is then necessary to identify steps in the business processes that have digital inputs rather than paper or voice inputs. Data must also be structured, said The Hackett Group. The work being automated needs to follow clear, logical rules rather than allowing human discretion and judgement, it added.

Once a suitable process has been identified, said The Hackett Group, RPA can be used for tasks such as extracting and entering data, processing and updating forms, merging, consolidating and archiving. It can also be used to conduct periodic analysis, performing calculations and preparing analytical reports.

In its report, The Hackett Group said: “RPA is also effective for automating so-called ‘swivel-chair interfaces’ – labour-intensive clerical tasks that involve capture and re-entry of data in multiple business applications, such as email, spreadsheets, ERP [enterprise resource planning] or CRM [customer relationship management] systems, or internal and external web applications and portals.”

Read more on Business process management (BPM)

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