How Can RPA Help Small Business Take on the Challenge of Big Business

The Biblical story of David and Goliath in which a shepherd boy beats a giant warrior in single combat, has become part of our vocabulary of underdog stories and improbable victories.

Like David, smaller businesses have been trying to take on their Goliaths and, in many cases, have been effective in doing so by virtue of them being nimble and flexible in their quest for success. Effective systems and processes go a long way in creating client centric businesses, but smaller organisations do face a challenge in how they adopt modern disruptive technology due to the sheer costs and technical integration involved to create a seamless technical experience. To a large extent this problem is resolved by employing people to process information and data between multiple systems. This is not only an expensive exercise for smaller businesses but also an activity that the workforce does not enjoy, given that it is manual, repetitive and not challenging. Industry research by McKinsey suggests that every worker who processes information and data on a daily basis spend between 30% to 50% doing tasks that are manual, repetitive and mundane in nature. In a rapidly evolving battlefield of business and technology, it is time to re-evaluate small business’ weapon of choice to take on their Goliath.

The New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Galdwell, suggests that the first mistake in interpreting the ancient story is underestimating the one weapon David did have – his sling. In ancient warfare, a slinger was part of the artillery, but a sling was also used by shepherds like David to protect their flock from dangerous wild animals. David walked up to Goliath, unencumbered by armour and steel but packing, by Gladwell’s estimation, ‘the stopping power of a [.45 caliber] handgun.’

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the modern day ‘sling’ that is needed to combat the challenges of mundane, repetitive and time-consuming tasks that are inevitable in the growth and success of a business. This technology mimics the actions of processing information and data between multiple systems in less time than it would take for a person.

At Cevitr, we offer the power of RPA as a service. This means that you would be able to automate tasks without having to spend any money upfront, create a seamless flow across your systems, significantly improve the speed of the repetitive processes for you to
start creating savings from day one –
giving you that extra edge over your competitors. Most importantly, this will free up valuable time for you and your employees to walk that extra mile for your clients.

Cevitr brings you access to RPA technology with a zero CAPEX model that does not require any upfront investment from you and you can subscribe to our services with total flexibility.

We have established for our clients a Robotic Process Automation platform (Cevitr Jo) based on industry standard technology. The platform has been deployed on an Amazon Web Services infrastructure and is highly resilient and scalable and has the necessary security protocols in-place to ensure a high performance and secure environment to process business transactions for our clients.

At Cevitr, we stand by the adage ‘seeing is believing.’ It is important for you to see how RPA can work for your unique business and to give you a real insight into the possibilities with Cevitr Jo, we will automate a process for you absolutely free of cost. To create a customised prototype, all you have to do is identify one data processing scenario which is manual, repeatable & mundane in nature carried out by your employees and we will activate that scenario on our platform so that you can see your information & data being processed by Cevitr Jo. It will only take us a matter of days to demonstrate Cevitr Jo in action and for you to benefit from this ground-breaking innovation.

To give you a glimpse of the benefits we have driven for one of our healthcare customers with whom we have identified over 30 processes and have automated the first few.

At Cevitr, we are challenging the status quo of long drawn out digital innovation programmes by offering the power of RPA through a zero CAPEX subscription model. We have designed the tool – simple yet elegant, for you to take on the Goliaths of your business.

Benefits of RPA Beyond a ‘Business Case’ Outcome

  • Imagine a working environment where all employees have a ‘Digital Workmate’ who is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.
  • The digital workmate is able to take on the most mundane of tasks on behalf of their human counterparts to enable the everyday worker to flourish in their job role – applying subjective judgement in problem solving

Every now and again, new ideas and inventions come along and have the potential to change the way we do things on a daily basis. Personal computing was one such creative concept that has changed the workplace, just as much as how social media and smart phones have changed our personal lives. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest innovation that will have a dramatic impact on the workplace of the future.
Cevitr as a business recognises the immense value of digitally empowering a workforce to deliver great business outcomes, and in RPA and AI we now have the technology and the means to enable this across all workplace environments.

It is fairly straightforward to make a ‘business case’ to deploy RPA – at the outset, the business can evaluate the cost benefit, time and money saved and their return on investment. The realisation that businesses have after dipping their toes in the RPA pool is the consequentialbenefits of integrating the digital workmate into their processes. Four months into launching our market proposition we have some real-life examples that demonstrate the benefits of deploying RPA beyond a ‘business case’ outcome.

 

CASE STUDY 1: HEALTHCARE – INCREASED SALES GROWTH

The first case in point that we would like to highlight is of an established and growing business in the healthcare sector where the original business case to deploy RPA was ‘cost reduction’.
The business relies on the relationship between three key stakeholders – their employees who are the subject matter experts (SME), the influencer who is an independent advocate for the business and the client. After the ‘handshake’, the relationship between all three stakeholders is formalised by processing information and payment details through CRM and field software. While building these vital relationships that drive the company forward are entirely in the remit of human interaction, the cost and time taken to process the data was high and inefficient. This resulted in being counter intuitive to the bond of trust created while securing the business.

The company decided to deploy RPA to handle these processes and provide a digital workmate for the SME. The outcomes of this are staggering as the business witnessed greater than 30% improvement in client satisfaction and more than 70% increase in influencer satisfaction. The combination of these resulted in a 20% increase in quarterly sales growth. Their original imperative of ‘cost reduction’ has now been eclipsed by the fact that the business was able to deploy RPA to automate a process that established a much closer bond between the provider, influencer and the client. Yes, the business has taken cost out by over 50% as a direct result of deploying RPA but the consequential outcome of increased sales growth is much more dramatic and an outcome that was not a part of the original business case. All of this was achieved because the working time of an SME was freed up as a result of automation, and this time was utilised to take on an activity that was simply not on service providers priorities.

 

CASE STUDY 2: MARKETING AND PR – UPSELL ACROSS EXISTING CLIENT BASE

The second case that we would like to highlight is of a marketing and public relations firm that wanted to explore new ways in which it could serve its clients better without impacting its cost base. While having the ability to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering more for the same price. The client is involved in producing analytics for its customers which requires data aggregation from multiple sources and then using the intellect of the human worker to provide meaningful insight to its clients.

Pareto’s 80:20 principle which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, had become a business conundrum for this company. The business spent 80% of their time on data aggregation and 20% on producing the insight. This also constrained them from increasing the frequency at which they provided insights to their clients. A conventional business case driven approach would have made this unviable for the marketing firm but with Cevitr’s RPA-as-a-Service solution coupled with a Zero CapEx model the process of data aggregation was automated in a matter of 7 days. The outcomes for our client are equally dramatic as their 80:20 conundrum, it has been turned on its head and is now an incredible 5:95 model. This has resulted in the firm being able to provide its clients with the same insight on a weekly basis instead of a monthly basis at no extra costs. 2 months down the line the marketing firm has now been able to upsell across its client base and increase its volume of business with its clients by over 60% and all because they were able to do more for the same cost base as compared to their direct competitors.

 

CASE STUDY 3: SOCIAL SELLING START-UP – REDUCED RISK AND FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS TO TAKE ON THE GOLIATHS IN THEIR WORLD

The third case that we would like to highlight is how a social selling start-up with limited financial resources was able to scale its business to take on the ‘Goliath’s and launch a new market offering 5 months ahead of the originally planned schedule. Most importantly, they did this without having to make any risky financial investments as they created a capability that would be effective in servicing its customers.

The company provides competitive intelligence to its clients when compared with opposing organisations. Quite often competitive intelligence is sought when businesses are required to thwart competitive pressures in real life situations and time is of the essence. The business challenge that this social selling start-up was facing was in creating capacity to service its clients within a normally acceptable time window. However, apredicting capacity required for a new service and with no historical data to leverage it was a bit of a ‘shot in the dark’. Get it right, and the business is able to reap the benefits. Get it wrong and you are left with a mountain to climb. So how did this start-up reduce these risks?

We at Cevitr recommended looking at RPA to create the capacity required. With our RPA-as-a-Service solution coupled with a Zero CapEx model, the start-up would have access to capacity ‘on the fly’. This indeed is a significant departure from the past and one where the business model of the start-up itself was able to improve by taking into consideration the capacity ‘on the fly’ and commit a far more aggressive response time to its clients. So, now that the business has the ability to provide tailormade insights in less than half a day from the time the request was made. Compared to a typical 2-3 days cycle, the start-up’s clients have a tremendous business benefit that make the service offering of the start-up even more compelling.

For the start-up the business benefit has been tremendous as its service is seen to be not only unique but also timely and accurate. They have been able to acquire new business earlier (5 months ahead of schedule), faster and with a significantly reduced risk. Now they can take on the ‘Goliaths’ of the world. For the start-up and for us at Cevitr, this is far beyond what an RPA business case would ordinarily deliver as an outcome.

“We at Cevitr are proud to have complimented a breakthrough technology. With our simple business engagement model we can assure our clients that when you engage with Cevitr for leveraging RPA in your business, the outcomes will always be positive and the true benefit of automation truly does go far beyond a business case.”

GDPR & RPA Great Potential to Ease the Pain

How can RPA help reduce the effort of GDPR compliance?

Four years of debate and two years after approval from the EU Parliament, 25th May 2018 was the D-Day for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance for European companies. It is nearly 6 months into the GDPR era and organisations have realized that being compliant and keeping it an ongoing organisational activity requires a lot of manual effort and continuous monitoring.

GDPR has a clear set of rules for businesses and organisations to protect the personal data, rights and redress of EU citizens. If the basic principles of these rules are breached, the fines can be to the tune of up to €20 million or 4% of the global annual turnover of the company, whichever is greater. Despite these serious implications, it seems that a number of organisations, albeit well intended, are still struggling to cope with the impact of GDPR and consider the effort to be a drain on their resources.

The challenge of handling GDPR compliance can be due to a number of reasons such as having a significant legacy of disparately located customer data, not having a system in place for active tracking and monitoring of the various data sources, starting late in combating the numerous challenges posed by GDPR and now scrambling to be compliant, dealing with volume of customer requests given the spike of data cleansing requests etc. Given these challenges, I believe that RPA (Robotic Process Automation) can help fast track GDPR compliance and keep the on-going process frictionless. RPA tackles the ‘D’ in GDPR by automating the mundane, repetitive and time-consuming tasks of data processing that are critical for compliance. It mimics the actions of processing information and data between multiple systems in less time than it would take for a person, with the added benefit of freeing up such persons to pursue other mission critical activities.

Right to be Informed: Individuals or Data Subjects, who own the data, have the right to be informed about the data collected and used about them. RPA can help by sharing pre-defined privacy templates with these data owners, sending updates on privacy information and automating some of the processes in customer interaction, creating dashboards etc.

Right to Access: This means that individuals have the right to request access to their personal data and to ask how their data is used by the company after it has been gathered. Any customer who asks for their data will have to be provided with a response free of charge. In B2C organisations, this could undertake a significant workload especially if there are several systems and databases that hold the information. Developing a single view of the customer could be an expensive IT project. With RPA, the entire activity can be automated with ease in a relatively cost-effective manner.

Right to Rectification: This ensures that individuals can have their data updated if it is out of date or incomplete or incorrect.
This is an activity that RPA can handle very easily across systems, provided the right rules are in place.

Right to Erasure: Individuals have the right for their data to be deleted from the company systems once they exit. This can involve user data deletion from multiple systems and databases. Getting an IT solution for this activity would be a very cumbersome process, but an RPA based approach can be set in motion very quickly.

Right to Restrict Processing: Individuals can request that their data is not used for processing. Their details may remain in place, but no further processing can take place. Rules can be built so that RPA can execute actions once a request comes in to restrict processing from a user by making changes to the relevant systems.

Right to Data Portability: Individuals have a right to reuse their data from one provider to the other, necessitating the conversion to machine readable forms such as CSV etc. With RPA, data from multiple systems can be converted to a CSV or other formats very easily with no requirement to create complex programs or use APIs etc, which need significant time to develop and test.

Right to Object: Individuals can request that their data should not be used for any direct marketing activities. As soon as such requests are received, organisations would have to act on it in a timely manner. This might require actions across multiple systems which can easily be automated with RPA.

Rights Related to Automated Decision Making and Profiling: GDPR gives individuals control of their data in the case of their data being used in automated decision making and user profiling (e.g. analytics for user behavior). As outlined previously, individuals can request their data information from any company. Initial data extraction could take time and incur costs, especially if new automated systems are deployed for this purpose. RPA can be deployed to extract and perform actions to ensure organisational ease and compliance.

There are other use cases for deploying RPA for GDPR compliance beyond those related to individual rights of people. For example, in case of a significant data breach, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and impacted individuals must be notified within 72 hours of first having become aware of the breach. Failing to notify such a breach can result in significant fines of up to €10 million or 2 per cent of your global turnover.
In cases such as this, RPA can rapidly provide high-volume and timely processing capabilities when a surge of activities occurs, including automating part of the process of informing customers on the breach.

As illustrated, the possibilities of the RPA technology to support GDPR are numerous facilitating otherwise arduous but necessary task of compliance, thereby delivering greater business process efficiencies.

 

How can Cevitr help?

At Cevitr, we offer the power of RPA as a Service (RPAaaS). This means that you can automate business processes without having to spend any money up-front and subscribe to our services with total flexibility. We create and service seamless non-disruptive workflows across your systems, significantly improve the speed of the repetitive processes so that you can enjoy cost savings from day one – giving you that extra edge over the competition. Most importantly, our RPA as a Service offering will free up valuable time for you and your employees to focus on core activities with the confidence that the necessary compliance related work is managed in an efficient and timely manner. In doing so, RPA integration can make the exercise of GDPR compliance into a positive journey by placing the customer experience at the heart of a transparent organisation.

We have established for our clients a Robotic Process Automation platform – CevitrJo, based on best of breed technology. The platform has been deployed on an Azure Cloud infrastructure offering high resilience and scalability, with the necessary security protocols in-place to ensure enhanced performance and a secure environment to process your business transactions.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Logistics & Supply Chain

The Logistics and Supply Chain sector is amongst the most competitive in the world, with many companies striving for competitive advantage by lowering prices and looking for opportunities to increase efficiency. The industry relies heavily on back-office operations that undertake the challenging job of scheduling shipments & deliveries, cross-docking, monitoring changes, handling exceptions and most importantly keeping their customers satisfied.

In order to successfully carry out these important jobs, almost all back-office employees are required to conduct manual and repetitive processes using computer systems and applications. Although these jobs are vital, they can be tedious and prone to human error resulting in a demoralized staff and unwanted problems. This is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can breathe new life into back-office operations. By automating rule-based tasks that are carried out on computers, RPA frees up employees and enables them to use their human judgement for tasks such as exception handling, that require more complex thinking.

RPA has been creating waves across many industry verticals and is quickly becoming a must-have tool for most digital transformation initiatives. Automation adds value by enabling organisations to work faster, increase accuracy, drive operating costs down and increase customer satisfaction.

What are the processes that can be automated in the industry?

We at Cevitr have compiled a list of commonly automated processes after speaking to leading industry professionals from various Logistics & Supply Chain organisations of all sizes;

  1. Order Processing & Payments: Processing orders is accompanied by transactions such as manual entry of the customers information into a database, processing the payments and sending out email confirmations for order updates.
  2. Onboarding of Accounts & Customers: Often there are many different portals to enter customer information, all these portals although different in layout will have many of the same required fields and an employee is basically copying and pasting the same information numerous times.
  3. Shipment Scheduling and Tracking: from the initial pick-up request to checking and reporting shipment status between internal systems and portals. Extract shipment details from incoming emails, log jobs in your scheduling systems and provide pick-up times in the required portals.
  4. Invoicing: RPA can eliminate re-keying, cutting-and-pasting and manually attaching data to invoices, automatically extract data, attach scanned PODs and invoices and update customer portals.
  5. Procurement & Inventory: Ensuring inventory control is live and up-to-date is key for manufactures and suppliers to confirm that they have enough products in stock to meet demands. If the products are out of stock or below a certain threshold, the process of reordering can be done immediately through automation.
  6. Customer Services: Representatives deal with hundreds of queries a day. By leveraging RPA, the Customer Services Team can be assigned to focus on the more challenging queries and the software bots can be used to answer the basic non-judgement-based queries, thus delivering service levels of the highest possible standard.

Whilst RPA delivers efficiency, accuracy and reduces operational costs, a barrier to adopting this technology is the expertise required to successfully deploy RPA in-house and the cost of implementation. Many companies that are already squeezed on their margins simply do not have the capability to leverage this technology and are reluctant to make the investment.

At Cevitr, our aim is to enable businesses to leverage the power of this technology by offering Robotic Process Automation as a Service (RPAaaS) by removing the barrier of upfront investment and in-house expertise. We provide a business process outsourcing service that uses a Digital Workforce to execute business processes for and on behalf of our clients. From initial consultation to final deployment and maintenance, we facilitate RPA enabled processes through our cloud-based platform. The RPAaaS offer is complemented by a Zero Capex savings commercial model, simplifying the deployment of RPA. We also provide the delivery of an automation roadmap which considers both the direct and consequential benefits of automation. By offering RPAaaS we are able to offer the end-to-end lifecycle of automation.

We want to enable organisations to benefit from RPA and create opportunities for them to reinvest the fantastic savings they can expect from day one.

MiFID II & RPA How Robotic Process Automation can help with the challenges of implementing MiFID II regulation

Society is ever evolving, and laws are made within this dynamic context to protect society’s greater interests. There are several examples of laws being changed and modified, or at times reversed, in line with contemporary ideals and current affairs. One such evolution that has spanned almost a decade is MiFID and MiFID II.

In 2007, MiFID was brought in as a cornerstone in the EU’s efforts to create a single financial market. It was a quirk of fate that as MiFID was implemented there were storm clouds brewing across the Atlantic which resulted in the greatest financial crises witnessed in a generation. It also exposed the inherent flaw in MiFID to focus on equities alone. With this backdrop a modified version was conceived and after several delays, it came into force on 3rd January 2018 and became known as MiFID II.

Today, MiFID II has changed the financial industry for the better. Affecting banks, wealth managers, asset managers and the like, the consumer is at the forefront of this regulation with MiFID II ensuring that financial institutions are completely transparent with their clients. This means that there has been an increase in data processing and handling as the essential actions for firms are transaction reporting, ex-ante and ex-post cost disclosure, and reporting losses.

The implementation of MiFID II was high impact because although the regulation looked to curb any grey areas, its nature made it exceedingly difficult to implement manually. Technology is required for this level of data handling and, in 2016/2017 in the run up to the deadline, IT and FinTech companies were tasked with catering to their clients’ regulatory needs.

This was either by making changes to already implemented systems or by offering new platforms that had built in compliance mechanisms. By now we are sure that all financial institutions will have put in the relevant leg-work to ensure compliance. However, even when the law was conceived it aimed to leverage emerging technologies to its benefit, and we can’t help but notice that MiFID II is tailor-made to today’s world and seems to be perfectly complemented by Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A software robot or Digital Workmate can be trained to process data and information that is repetitive in nature and perform tasks that use computer systems by following a fixed logic or set of rules. When such an activity is executed by a Digital Workmate, it is known as Robotic Process Automation or RPA.

Society is ever evolving, and laws are made within this dynamic context to protect society’s greater interests. There are several examples of laws being changed and modified, or at times reversed, in line with contemporary ideals and current affairs. One such evolution that has spanned almost a decade is MiFID and MiFID II.

In 2007, MiFID was brought in as a cornerstone in the EU’s efforts to create a single financial market. It was a quirk of fate that as MiFID was implemented there were storm clouds brewing across the Atlantic which resulted in the greatest financial crises witnessed in a generation. It also exposed the inherent flaw in MiFID to focus on equities alone. With this backdrop a modified version was conceived and after several delays, it came into force on 3rd January 2018 and became known as MiFID II.¬

Today, MiFID II has changed the financial industry for the better. Affecting banks, wealth managers, asset managers and the like, the consumer is at the forefront of this regulation with MiFID II ensuring that financial institutions are completely transparent with their clients. This means that there has been an increase in data processing and handling as the essential actions for firms are transaction reporting, ex-ante and ex-post cost disclosure, and reporting losses.

The implementation of MiFID II was high impact because although the regulation looked to curb any grey areas, its nature made it exceedingly difficult to implement manually. Technology is required for this level of data handling and, in 2016/2017 in the run up to the deadline, IT and FinTech companies were tasked with catering to their clients’ regulatory needs.

This was either by making changes to already implemented systems or by offering new platforms that had built in compliance mechanisms. By now we are sure that all financial institutions will have put in the relevant leg-work to ensure compliance. However, even when the law was conceived it aimed to leverage emerging technologies to its benefit, and we can’t help but notice that MiFID II is tailor-made to today’s world and seems to be perfectly complemented by Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A software robot or Digital Workmate can be trained to process data and information that is repetitive in nature and perform tasks that use computer systems by following a fixed logic or set of rules. When such an activity is executed by a Digital Workmate, it is known as Robotic Process Automation or RPA.

 

By adopting CevitrJo as part of existing systems, financial institutions are not only equipped to deal with MiFID II but equipped in the most efficient manner. CevitrJo helps organisations become both technologically and financially compliant.

RPA as a Service vs In-house Deployment of RPA

As an industry disruptor Cevitr gets asked a lot of questions, for example:

‘What is Robotic Process Automation as a Service (RPAaaS)?’

‘How is it different from an in-house deployment of RPA?’

Moreover, can both models be deployed within the same organisation and is there any merit in doing so?

Let’s begin with RPAaaS. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the use of software technology to execute a business process that requires processing of data and information using specific rules. Cevitr offers RPA as-a-service (RPAaaS) – a Business Process Outsourcing Service that uses a digital workforce to execute business processes for and on behalf of its clients.

Cevitr’s RPAaaS market offer is additionally complemented by two unique commercial propositions – Zero CapEx and a savings-based charging model. It is this combined market proposition that we will compare to in-house RPA deployment and outline how, in our belief, there is great benefit to be had from the synergies between both of the models.

In-house RPA deployments in large organisations has accelerated in recent years and more and more businesses are adopting it for all the right reasons. Some organisations have been able to get key business stakeholder buy-in at a much faster rate than what others have been able to achieve. This has been down to the

fact that the period of time that it takes to demonstrate and prove that the technology works, is very short. In most cases, an initiative of this nature is backed by a business sponsor who is seen as a ‘cultural icon’ within the organisation and recognises the benefits of adopting RPA across all departments. Businesses also deploy in-house RPA as they are more comfortable when they are in control of their data and business processes are executed in the same time zone. This enables them to retain and build subject matter expertise.

‘Seeing is believing’ when it comes to business buy-ins. One of the most outstanding features of RPA is an end state outcome that can be demonstrated to business stakeholders within the shortest period of time. However, it is important that businesses give a great deal of thought in identifying the most appropriate process as the initial pilot. In the context of an in-house RPA programme, the considerations for automating a specific business process is purely

driven based on a business case which would mean that the Return on Investment (ROI) within 18 to 24 months is the most important criteria that is used for selection.

Large businesses have in the past decade already outsourced a very high percentage of simple processes to service providers in low cost locations. More often than not, these processes are overlooked for the initial RPA pilot even though there is potential for further cost reduction. The clients are therefore left with business processes that were never outsourced and tend to be of a more complex nature with serious business implications, as the initial pilot. The net result is that these processes are time consuming to develop due to complexity and prone to error, thus eroding the confidence of the business stakeholders.

Compare this with Cevitr’s RPAaaS market offer combined with a Zero CapEx commercial proposition, and all business cases will be positive. The clients do not need to look through the lens of a business case for an initial set of pilot projects. This will help them identify an initial process for automation that is not highly complex or have high transaction volumes and steadily move on to processes with increasing business impact. In doing so, an ‘as-a-Service’ model bridges the now and future in an in-house RPA capability roadmap deployment. The development of an automation routine is done in a matter of days and business stakeholders are able to visualise the possibilities that the technology is able to offer.

The additional benefits RPAaaS are

  • Time to market – Since the technology is platform deployed and thoroughly tested, client business processes can be automated much faster than an in-house deployment.
  • Zero technology lock-in – As RPA technology is evolving clients would have the ability to jump start their RPA initiatives without worrying about technology lock-in and make informed investment decisions.
  • Access to capability – Since a typical RPAaaS offering is a vendor driven market proposition, the people capability required to automate a business process is already available and clients need not invest in developing this capability.
  • Cost avoidance resulting from access to capacity on the fly – Have the flexibility and availability of introducing capacity when the business requires it the most without having to make any additional investments.
  • Access to a knowledge base – One of the reasons why in-house IT has moved to an outsourced based model over the last two decades was due to the access to an industry knowledge base that gave clients the ability to resolve complex issues.
  • Access to standardised tools & processes – Whilst in-house deployments are focused on making technology viable and work, an ‘as-a-Service’ provider has to have effective tools and processes to ensure not only repeatability but also predictability of outcomes.

The table below summarises the difference between in-house RPA and RPAaaS

Feature In-House RPA RPAaaS
Who funds the RPA activity? Clients Service provider
Where is the technology hosted? In-house, private cloud Public cloud
Level of Technology Lock-In High Low
Data & Information Processing Clients Service provider
Who Develops & Retains technical Skills? Clients Service provider
Can the platform support multiple clients? No Yes
Impact of Service Levels Tracked with no commercial liability Contractually linked to service provider
Use of Tools & Processes Basic Advanced to ensure repeatability & predictability
Level of Utilisation Low to medium High
Who pays for utilisation inefficiency? Clients Service provider
Ability to leverage multiple technologies Low to medium High

 

The complementary nature of Cevitr’s RPAaaS market proposition with an in-house deployment is demonstrated by the fact that it can be leveraged in the following scenarios:

  • Development of initial pilots that facilitate business stakeholder buy-in across all departments in the business (essential to increase the coverage of RPA adoption with a business).
  • Enable automation of non-industrial scale processes that would simply not meet the rigorous ROI requirements of a business case.
  • Enable automation of one-off processes, especially with mergers and divestures being more common place.
  • Enable automation of processes that require temporary scale, like peak trading season, event driven etc.
  • Address urgent process automation needs, which otherwise may not be possible due to lack of specialist and on-demand enabling technology and related people skills access.
  • Automation of processes that are not your current focus area, because this is not looked at from a digital empowerment perspective.
  • Enables trailing of future RPA test candidates before in-house deployment.
  • RPAaaS could be deployed as a digital assistant for those in-house attended bot workflow scenarios.
  • The RPAaaS Platform can be used as a disaster recovery site for In-House deployments.

 

Although the RPAaaS offering is as secure and accurate as the in-house equivalent, it can certainly complement any in-house initiative for the reasons outlined above. Yet, the biggest benefit that we have seen in a similar situation with our clients are the unforeseen and consequential benefits of organisation wide RPA deployments. These benefits are increased sales growth and customer satisfaction as well as upselling across their existing client base. At Cevitr, our goal is to digitally empower our clients and explore endless possibilities.

RPA – A Sticking Plaster for Broken IT Systems?

Is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) a Sticking Plaster for broken IT Systems – A perspective from Cevitr

 

Robotic process Automation (RPA) is an application of technology that configures computer software to manage the execution of work processes that are definable, repeatable and rule-based. RPA is the new super efficiency pill that has implications on Business and IT and is challenging conventions like never before.

 

Business leaders and IT leaders however, approach this technology from very different perspectives. Business leaders look at RPA as a cost-effective means of processing information faster and more accurately thereby reducing operating costs and providing opportunities to the workforce to focus on value-added tasks. IT leaders on the other hand, may refer to it as nothing but a ‘Sticking Plaster for broken IT systems’ and assert that the real long-term solution is an ‘Integrated IT Landscape’- where information flow is seamless between systems and applications.

 

Whilst both sides have merit in their arguments, RPA has tremendous value even in highly efficient and integrated technology landscapes as automation offers the ability to the business users to automate mundane & repetitive tasks of processing data and information in the normal course of business. This would make RPA a much more durable and curative than the ordinary ‘Sticking Plaster’. It is important that organisations dwell more closely on the “what is in it for me” to truly adopt the technology. Moreover, to understand the contrasting points of view we must examine a few historical facts on topics like ‘Legacy modernisation’ & ‘Integrated IT systems’.

 

When it comes to integrating applications/systems several concepts that come to mind are EAI, A2A, B2B, BAM, BPM, ESB and SOA. In recent years, open application programming interfaces (APIs) is an addition to this list. Despite the variety of approaches and technologies that are available why do non-integrated IT environments still exist? Quite simply put, creating an integrated IT landscape is not only an expensive, complex and a time consuming exercise but results/outcomes are rarely, if ever assured. Traditionally enterprises grew their systems and IT infrastructure out of necessity as business growth demanded a hurriedly connected ecosystem to keep pace.

This inevitably led to deploying people to process information and data across multiple systems, an approach, that was easy to implement, and faster outcomes were always assured. A McKinsey study conducted along with the University of Oxford revealed that ‘half of all large IT projects—defined as those with initial price tags exceeding $15 million—massively blow their budgets. On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted’. Additionally, even if one were able to execute a successful EAI/SOA project, the changes in business processes that would arise on a regular basis would be very difficult to apply, time consuming, have significant testing related implications and cause friction between the business & IT teams.

 

‘Why fix something that is not broken’ is another common argument when it comes to dealing with legacy modernisation. Integrating legacy applications with modern day applications is a complex exercise and many organisations choose to avoid doing so due to no inherent business value being perceived. Enter the world of ‘Two-speed architecture’ where legacy and modern applications co-exist; This implies a fast-speed, customer-centric front end running alongside a slow-speed, transaction-focused legacy back end with business users bridging the gap between the front end and backend systems.

 

So, in this ecosystem, now that the origins of the argument have been examined, what does RPA bring to the party.

 

The first unique feature that the technology offers is that it does not impact existing systems architecture in any way. This would be ‘music’ to the ears of the IT department of an organisation. This is because RPA technology is essentially designed to work at a presentation layer of an application/system be it a front-end or back-end application. In some cases, it is possible to use API’s to connect with applications/systems through the backend to be able to process transactions faster. When working with the front-end of applications/systems, it mimics the human interaction with applications/systems and executes that business process just as a human worker would do so. What every business would get as a result of automating a business process is faster processing times, increased accuracy of execution and ability to scale up and down seamlessly to keep pace with your business demand.

The second unique feature of the technology is the fact that unlike a long-drawn IT project it takes only a matter of days to create a set of instructions understood by the RPA digital workmate and to see business processes running in an automated manner. This clearly is break from tradition where outcomes take months/years to be visible from complex IT Transformation programmes.

 

The third feature in the context of connected workforce that RPA technology delivers is enhanced levels of security. Moving work to low cost locations has often challenged the security & privacy of personal data with several instances of un-authorised access being reported. The RPA enable Digital Workmate is trained to follow instructions/wizards which therefore limits the activities to those processes only and the digital workmate does not look ‘left’ or ‘right’ thereby significantly eliminating the possibility of unauthorised data access.

 

However, for a ‘Sticking Plaster’ to be more durable and have curative efficacy it is important that the use of the technology is not only planned but is also calibrated. For businesses looking to adopt the technology it is required that the business and IT functions within the business are on the same page. No matter how non-intrusive RPA technology is there are considerations in infrastructure and security that must be addressed to effectively run it in the organisation. Whilst encashing savings derived from low hanging fruits is a key financial consideration, businesses do need to investigate the following basic questions for a longer-term curative benefit:

 

  • What business processes do we want to automate?
  • When do we want to automate these business processes?
  • How will we achieve our automation requirements?
  • How will the handshake between a human worker and the digital workmate happen?
  • How will we effectively utilise the freed-up time of our workforce?

 

An answer to these basic questions will inevitably lead you to the need for developing an automation roadmap just like you would for any business transformation programme. It is here that you will soon realise that to achieve the desired business outcomes, it is important to capture the effectiveness by contrasting current state metrics with future achieved metrics. Adopting RPA gives many other consequential benefits like the ability to scale at a fraction of the costs involved and being able to digitally empower the workforce to walk that extra mile for clients with the freed up time from automation.

 

In conclusion, whilst RPA could be considered a short term Sticking Plaster for broken IT systems the benefits like cost advantage, time to market, ability to deploy a two-speed architecture and the consequential benefits that can be achieved, make it a highly durable & curative sticking plaster. The market certainly thinks so, with leading analysts predicting double digit growth over the next few years and the RPA market is  expected to be over USD 8 Billion in the next 5 years.

 

So, is RPA a sticking plaster for broken IT systems? Well, in a pure sense, no. As a market disruptive force, which gives unparalleled efficiency, accuracy and cost savings to your business, it is prudent to consider it as a vitamin pill that modern day enterprises need.

 

About the Author

Jaideep Mudholkar is the co-founder of Cevitr Limited, a UK based RPA-as-a-Service (RPAaaS) provider. A company that digitally empowers their clients’ workforce to deliver great business results using smart automation. He is a seasoned IT Services Professional who has in the past worked with Tata Consultancy Services, HP Enterprise Services & Atos SE, managing the interface between a diverse range of professionals and bringing about an entrepreneurial approach to his work.

Jaideep formed Cevitr with the philosophy of complementing the automation technology with a simple business engagement model and providing a unique market access to this game changing innovation. The Cevitr platform gives businesses of all sizes, access to RPA with a simple subscription-based engagement model with services delivered on the cloud. The engagement is OPEX only, to deliver benefits with clients large and small with the least amount of friction.

The Cevitr Guide to Process Mapping for RPA Implementations

  • The introduction of any new technology requires a careful selection of the business area where it is sought to be deployed.
  • This selection is crucial to demonstrate the capability of the technology to deliver business results so that it is championed by the stakeholders.
  • At Cevitr, we recognise the importance of using a structured approach in making RPA deployments successful and more mainstream in the Industry 4.0 era.

 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an application of technology by which business processes, that use computer systems and applications and follow a fixed logic or set of rules, can be executed by a trained software robot.  The deployment of RPA spans across industry verticals and its application can be tailored to a host of use cases, varying in complexity and sophistication. Hence, selecting the most suitable candidate process may often be perplexing for many businesses. This guide highlights a methodology that Cevitr has used for its clients, to address the first question that all businesses ask:

 

What is the Candidate Process for my first RPA implementation?

We begin to answer this question by examining the universally accepted outcomes that businesses are looking for from RPA deployment such as:

  • Cost Reduction in business process transaction processing
  • Speed at which transactions are processed
  • Higher level of accuracy in the outputs produced
  • Reducing the level of manual data & information processing activity

 

In addition to these outcomes each business will aim to achieve additional consequential benefits such as:

  • Increased sales growth
  • Increased profitability
  • Increased levels of customer satisfaction
  • Increased levels of employee satisfaction

 

BUSINESS IMPACT is therefore, the first and vital parameter that is looked at whilst deciding a candidate process for RPA implementation.

Next, we look at the technology itself and focus on the data and information that can  be processed with an RPA solution.

  • RPA technology relies upon structured data, even though the data itself can come from multiple sources. Examples of structured data are Excel based reports generated from enterprise/business applications, transaction records in enterprise/business applications and electronic invoices in portable document formats (pdf).
    (Conversely, a paper-based record or hand-written annotations in business documents are a classic example of un-structured data and requires a level of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to be deployed before an RPA solution can process such information.)
  • Does the data & information use certain rules to be processed? If so, identify the rules and quantify the number of rules that need to be applied to process a single transaction.
  • Consider data coming from multiple sources like applications, websites, reports etc, that require a swivel chair appoach to processing. These have a direct co-relation to the volume of processes and the number of rules that need to be applied.

 

A combination of these elements determines the second parameter of PROCESS COMPLEXITY that is essential for businesses to consider for RPA applications.

Identification and achievement of outcomes are the reasons why businesses are looking at adopting RPA in the first instance. An early quantification of the business benefit helps in assigning the correct set of criteria that will define success or failure. TRANSACTIONAL VOLUME – the third parameter is a key determinant in contextualizing the business benefit be it cost saving, process output accuracy or process speed.

 

Process Mapping Grid by Cevitr for RPA Implementation

Having identified the three key parameters of Business Impact, Process Complexity and Transactional Volume, candidate processes for RPA implementation can be analysed by positioning tasks on the Process Mapping Grid by Cevitr, on a scale from high (H) and medium (M) to low (L).

Processes that can be mapped to the top right-hand quadrant are characterised by low process complexity, have a medium to high business impact and high transaction volumes are the ideal for RPA implementation. However, for each process to be mapped correctly, all the Sub Parameters (SP) as well as a set of Objective Quantification Criteria (OQC), need to be measured.

We have identified 10 SPs and 32 OQCs to which we have ascribed a rank-based weightage that is used to evaluate our clients’ processes. Some of the common SPs and OQCs have been outlined below:

Each target automation process is measured using this scoring mechanism and the results are used to position the business processes on the Process Mapping Grid.

 

Automation Roadmap

The ideal attributes of a candidate process for initial RPA deployment would score the lowest in Process Complexity and highest in Business Impact and Transaction Volumes, placing them in the top right area of the grid. These processes would be the:

(1) Proving Grounds for RPA implementation and an ideal First Proof of Concept Candidate. Candidate processes that could additionally be considered in the initial stages of RPA implementation could be the BPO work that has already been outsourced to low cost locations. However, for an organisation wide stakeholder buy-in, which is essential in making the use of RPA more main-stream in business, this may not be the best place to start because of the low business impact. Therefore, once there is stakeholder buy-in with the initial POC that has a high Business Impact, there is a real possibility of taking further cost out by reclaiming.

 

(2) BPO work Using a Digital Workforce. At Cevitr, we believe in the power of a Digital Workmate to support employees by performing tasks that are repetitive, routine and mundane but essential to the organisation. This effectively enables employees to contribute to the business in ways that only human beings can – by being creative, making connections and taking decisions. Therefore, as RPA becomes integrated within a business, the next step would be;

 

(3) Digital Empowerment of the workforce. Automating tasks that have low transaction volumes can yield high business impact as a consequence of employee satisfaction.

 

(4) Hybrid RPA Delivery is when a combination of standard RPA solutions and human-based decision making are applied in executing a process. In some cases, this may be when some best of breed Artificial Intelligence solutions are combined with standard RPA solutions for executing an end to end process. Inherently these processes are more complex in nature and do have a high business impact. They should only be automated when a level of maturity in technology capability is achieved along with an established co-working model that makes the interaction between the human worker and digital worker seamless.

The benefit of using a structured methodology to identify candidate processes is that when this approach is applied to a broad range of business processes it will inevitably lead to developing the building blocks of an organisation wide Automation Roadmap. The automation roadmap itself evolves from an initial view and as adoption within a business increases, newer priorities will need to be incorporated in the automation journey. As RPA & AI adoption in Industry 4.0 has been identified by leading analysts and advisors as being at the peak of the hype curve, an unstructured approach will inevitably lead to disillusionment, which would then deter further investments in the technology. Moreover, the current focus of most RPA deployments is in demonstrating that the technology works, and little attention is being given to identifying the surrounding processes and methods that need to be applied for a longer-term value creation that the technology has to offer.

“At Cevitr, we not only recognise the market dynamics but the repeatability and predictability in our service offerings too, due to us being a start-up business with an industry disrupting proposition that is challenging the current status quo of in-house RPA deployment with an RPA as a Service proposition. For this to be a reality we have developed and tested a methodology that we plan to use for all our client engagements, of which selecting the candidate processes for RPA deployment is the first step in our collaborative journey.”

The Digital Workmate – the future of Accountancy Practices

Viewpoint by Manasi Pophale – Content writer at Cevitr

Looking ahead: challenges faced by accountancy practices

When considering the future of accountancy firms, there are two aspects of the business that Partners think about – service delivery and practice management.

 

SERVICE  DELIVERY

Accountancy practices provide services to multiple clients, and efficient delivery of services is key to their success. They are able to provide their services with a specialist trained workforce and well managed internal processes. One of the challenges faced by them in service delivery, and this is especially true for the small and medium size accountancy firms, is recruiting and retaining the right talent.

It is predicted that by 2025, majority of the global workforce will be comprised of Millennials and Gen Z born between 1983 and 1999. Workplaces of the future will have to be ready to leverage the talent of this highly educated and capable workforce by meeting their expectations of work experience. The 18th century economic theory of division of labour by Adam Smith has been a cornerstone of the industrialised world, as specialisation improves efficiency. However, this theory is not as easily accepted by a generation that is interested in being more than cogs in a machine.Leaders of accountancy practices will find that fewer people from this generation are interested in working on the same clients or doing the same audit procedures and tax return preparation workings, for the long term. Accountancy firms achieve profitability by increasing efficiency. However, if there is a situation in which the same people don’t want to do the same job, then firm management would be at conflict. On the one hand they would be expected to constantly provide change to retain talent and on the other, remain efficient. The end result – the challenge with respect to retaining and recruiting a new generation within the accountancy industry will further increase.

What if firm management had an alternative to employ tireless workers? Willing to work on the same job, 24/7, 365 days of the year, no lunch breaks, no holidays, year on year! Enter – the Digital Workmate. Part of the problem with the kind of work that accountancy firms do is that it is the mundane repetitive work of collating financial information across systems and entities. This is the first and essential step before adding value.

These logic-based, repetitive tasks such as creating worksheets can be easily automated using a Digital Workforce.

For an accountant, it is easier and faster to look at a worksheet with fresh eyes and critique it than to create the worksheet in the first place and cross check it for errors.  The maker checker concept is a well-established practice at accountancy firms. Having a Digital Workmate as a co-worker means that, logic based, mundane repetitive job of creating the worksheet can be delegated. The benefit of using a Digital Workmate for these jobs is the opportunity to empower the human mind to do the higher-level tasks that drive strategic outcomes. It’s a way of freeing employees from mundane repetitive work and rewarding initiative with responsibility.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) may well result in lesser jobs that require logic based repetitive tasks being available in future accountancy practices. However, the human workforce in accountancy practices is crucial for interpreting the data, tax and regulatory law and interpreting and applying accounting and auditing standards.

The world is expanding in terms of GDP as emerging economies are  becoming, slowly but surely, developed economies. As this trend continues, business will increase as will the complexity of doing business. Tax laws and accounting standards keep on changing and the workforce of the future will have more interesting and fulfilling challenges to tackle. A Digital Workforce that complements the human employees will not only increase efficiency of business as usual but also support future initiatives.

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

Like all ‘for-profit’ business, accountancy firms are always striving for operational innovation in practice management to improve their day to day functioning and increase efficiency. While practice management tools are available in the market place, they have an upfront cost and training requirement. The accountancy practice may also have to re-engineer their business processes to accommodate the logic of the new tool or software. These tools may become redundant as the business requirements change or cost more to keep them relevant.

Deploying a Digital Workforce is a more agile option as it can emulate processes developed by human workers to collate information from different management systems. A Digital Workmate mimics activity such as clicking, typing and moving between windows. The experience for the business user in this case would be that of teaching the process to a Digital Workmate co-worker as opposed to learning a software.

Firms have disparate management information systems for their business verticals. They would have separate systems for accounting, time and billing, CRM, scheduling, etc. Most of the time and effort of a business user is spent in navigating between these systems to collate data in a predefined, logical order before action can be taken. Such processes are ideal candidates for passing on to a Digital Workmate.

Cevitr™ has automated a process of invoice preparation for KNAV P.A., international accountancy firm, that has offices across different locations, globally. Managers at these offices typically fill out an invoice requisition form, send it to the billing clerk, based in Mumbai, who then creates the invoices in QuickBooks using this information.

This is a typical data entry task and an ideal candidate for a Digital Workmate as it involves looking at information from one source and feeding it into another form. By freeing up their billing clerk, our client was able to extract more value-added tasks from him such as following up with their clients on timely receipt of payments and monitoring the overall accounting policy and efficiency of the supply chain.

Increasing the efficiency of managing information across systems provides a better handle to firm management in managing the organic growth of the practice. However, when it comes to accountancy practices, growth is quite often, inorganic. Firms acquire other firms and inherit and accumulate disparate information systems. In this scenario, the Digital Workforce can be a game changer. Work doesn’t need to slow down or stop while the firms that have been acquired or merged try to get onto the same platform. The Digital Workforce provides an alternative that transcends systems and allow separate offices and separate business units to function with legacy processes, and still get all the information that is needed at the management level on a firm wide basis.

A reality of doing business is that the time cycle for financial processes is predetermined and fixed for individuals and companies. Financial statements have to be submitted to regulators based on the financial year and deadlines of the country in which taxes are filed. Teams carrying out financial processes feel the pressure of the calendar, with tight timeframes to compile and process information. This pressure is felt more acutely by accountancy firms, be it in audit, tax or consulting. Automation technology can relieve this pressure as well as improve data quality to assure compliance and speedy delivery to meet crucial deadlines.

Due dates for returns and financial statements are fixed. As these dates approach, accountancy firms are inundated with information from their clients. Historically, seasonal workers are added to the payroll to manage the load during these peak seasons. It is a challenge to get seasonal workers as there is high demand and competition as the whole industry is also in the market, looking for them. Digital Workmates will be an alternative which will be seriously considered in lieu of, or in addition to, seasonal workers.

Many of these processes are linear and move ahead only by completing steps in a pre-defined order. If some of these steps are automated with a Digital Worker that can complete them faster, then the entire process can be sped up. Another advantage of the Digital Workmate is that the processes can keep running during out of office hours so that the next step that needs to be picked up by the human worker is ready and waiting. The labor of a Digital Workmate can supplement and augment the human workforce.  By deploying a Digital Workmate as a co-worker, accountancy firms can effectively increase their production capacity.

Using a Digital Workmate to support the workload during peak seasons for accountancy firms also alleviates the stress and cost of recruitment and training temporary workers. Once a Digital Workmate has been trained, it can carry out the task with minimal retraining every year and their availability, cost and quality of work is assured.

Where can the Digital Workmate be used in accounting activities?

RPA can be used for service delivery to automate tasks that involve tax form filling, audit procedures, transfer pricing  financial analysis, etc. The role of a Digital Workmate in tax compliance could be for processes such as monthly VAT or sales tax returns that are filed by collecting information and prepared by populating standardized forms.

Numerous audit procedures involve verifying existence and completeness of data. Reperformance is another audit procedure that is extensively used by auditors. All these tasks are typically done by a business user by  extracting the information from the accounting system. They would then reformat the data in Excel so that it is easier to understand. These processes are fairly standard keystroke processes with no decision making involved. This is potentially a process that can be automated using a Digital Workmate.

The decision to deploy RPA will depend on the volume of processes available for automation in order for the exercise to be financially viable.

Logically, larger the firm, the more it will be able to use RPA. However, this is not a constraint for our clients because of Cevitr’s™ subscription based Digital Workmates that provide on demand service. Cevitr’s™ disruptive model has created a paradigm shift in the RPA delivery model that makes it possible for small and medium sized accountancy firms to benefit from this game changing technology and become future ready. RPA is no longer something that only the Big 4 can benefit from.

Accountancy practices thinking about deploying a Digital Workforce should consider the following:

 

  • Identify processes which are simple, repetitive and easy to emulate. These are ideal candidate processes for automation with a Digital Workmate.
  • Talk to the business users who will be affected by the introduction of the Digital Workmate so that any apprehensions they may have are discussed and addressed.
  • Management time is always involved in undertaking any new project. Accountancy firms are typically driven by consensus and not all the partners may be keen on investing in new technology. Service delivery is a priority so discussions about new technology can happen when they are free.

 

 

It is important to become early adopters of Digital Workmates to

achieve competitive differentiation in the sector. Our client – Atul

Deshmukh, Partner, KNAV P.A., advises accountancy practices

that are thinking about deploying a Digital Workforce to open their

mind and try it out!

 

 

DEPLOYING A DIGITAL WORKMATE IS A MORE AGILE OPTION

It can emulate processes developed by human workers to collate information from different management systems. A Digital Workmate mimics activity such as clicking, typing and moving between windows.

THE DIGITAL WORKFORCE PROVIDES AN ALTERNATIVE THAT TRANSCENDS SYSTEMS

It allows separate offices and separate business units to function with legacy processes and still get all the information that is needed at the management level on a firm wide basis.