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Creating a Business Case for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Introduction

Excitement about potential savings might be enough to get funding for a small RPA pilot; however, when an implementation requires licensing for Bots plus consulting fees for project assistance, the costs can quickly become significant.

Knowing that a small pilot without a clear plan will likely fail, how do you approach building a business case that will deliver over the long term?  Should you start small or first develop a comprehensive Intelligent Automation strategy and then seek the funding you require?  These are just some of the questions major corporations from across the globe are currently facing as they start their journey into the world of Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation.

Company Experience

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM featured a large healthcare company based in the United States with over $10 billion USD in revenue and 60,000 employees.  During the Peercast, this company shared their recent experiences in their Human Resources service center in carrying out an RPA proof of concept and developing a business case for future bot implementations.  

The feature presentation started with a list of business case considerations related to Intelligent Automation, which are as follows:

  • Buzz Around RPA – No huge justification necessary.
  • Clear on Goals & Outcomes – Know what your expected outcomes are.
  • Do It Right the First Time – Complete a thorough review of processes.
  • Climate of Organization – Does your business have the appetite for automation?
  • Delivering on the Long Game – Creating value by demonstrating scale on major initiatives.

Since there was already strong interest within the company regarding Intelligent Automation, particularly RPA bots, rather than create a business case solely for a proof of concept, the HRSS leadership was able to work with their IT organization to utilize some existing funding to license a bot and secure the services of an implementation partner, Symphony. 

Symphony guided them through a very comprehensive environmental scan of what processes would be more conducive to automation in HR Shared Services.  Forty-three processes were analyzed and about 50% of those processes are being targeted for automation.  The company expects a 13% capacity creation across the HR service center when these bots are fully operational.  They noted during the discussion that the capabilities of the bots became much more apparent as they went through the process evaluation.

The process chosen for the proof of concept was Employee Terminations and Blue Prism was selected as the RPA technology provider.  Once the first bot was operational, HRSS created a video of it performing the process.  They slowed the recording down to clearly highlight the different steps it was taking and added narration as part of their business case justification to move forward with broader use of RPA.

The company’s plans are to leverage their implementation partner until they can develop the expertise in-house, as a center of expertise to support other Intelligent Automation initiatives from other organizations within the company. 

Now that they have completed the original proof of concept and started to proceed at full speed with additional bots, some of their next steps for Intelligent Automation include the following:

  • Review recommended target areas and output
  • Decide on business priority and order of execution
  • Develop RPA roadmap
  • Engage automation partner and stand up project team
  • Kick-off detailed design phase

iPollingTM Results Review

A poll of Peeriosity member companies was recently administered in conjunction with this PeercastTM.  The first of two poll questions looked at the status of developing a business case for IA technology, with 36% indicating that the business case for a major IA initiative had been approved.  Another 32% of the surveyed companies have an approved business case, but just for the initial pilot.  Of the remaining 32% of the companies, 16% have a business case under development, while another 16% have not yet developed one at this point in time.

The second poll question then addressed what organization within the company had primary responsibility for the development of the Intelligent Automation business case.  Functional organizations, such as Finance and HR, were the most popular response, with 43% of the companies using that approach.  This was closely followed by Shared Services, at 35%, which, when considering the transactional nature typically found in that type of organization, would make sense.  Interestingly, Information Technology only fills this role at 17% of the companies.

Some of the Peeriosity member comments related to this poll included the following:

Consumer Products & Services Member: The team initiating the AI tool recommendation (which is typically the team who will benefit from the business case). Up to this point it’s been the Global Business Services team that has created the business case.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: We’ve already done a Proof of Concept and from that we’ve expanded this now and are looking to automate more process flows. This work is focused in the HR Service Center for now, but may expand due to the success of the implementation of other processes.

Manufacturing Member: Business case creation was a combination of the functional organization, Shared Services and IT.

Consumer Products & Services Member: Corporate Accounting is developing business case for RPA.

Financial Services Member: We have been using RPA since 2016 and have implemented numerous processes across multiple lines of business.

Manufacturing Member: We are in development phase for our first 2 bots and creating a business case for a next phase with more implementations.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: Business case was developed by combination of 3rd party consultants, IT and Shared Services.

Non-Profit Member: We are doing this currently with Accounts Payable invoice automation.

Closing Summary

While there are several different approaches companies can take in developing their business case for Intelligent Automation, the most important step is to start developing a strategy as soon as possible and secure the necessary funding to at least carry out a proof of concept for this powerful technology.  Intelligent Automation works, especially in a Shared Services environment, so what are you waiting for?

What is the status at your company with respect to developing a strategy and a business case for Intelligent Automation?  What is the logical next step in this area for your organization?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.



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