The benefits of robotic process automation (RPA) from a cost perspective are clear and often are the major driver for the initial adoption and implementation of RPA.
Improved customer service, cost reduction, and increased speed to market are all important advantages to RPA that are clearly communicated and increasingly supported by early adopters of RPA. There are two other potential benefits of RPA when implemented correctly: Risk reduction and improved compliance.
According to a report by McKinsey & Company, research has revealed that as business processes become more and more digitized, the IT infrastructure of an organization naturally becomes a greater source of risk. This goes to show that in the age of digital transformation and the IoT, much greater risk is taken on by companies from all directions and sectors.
RPA plays a major role in the way workforce virtualization has the potential to fundamentally change the way companies address multiple areas of process execution, while reaping substantial operational benefits. While companies continue to take on greater risk through digitization, RPA can help reduce this risk by decreasing errors, increasing compliance, and offering scalability. These benefits are essential to reducing risk and offering companies an efficient, streamlined way to save money and be successful.
There are a number of risks inferred with the implementation of RPA; however, the rewards of RPA greatly offset the potential downfalls. Let’s take a look at these downfalls to better see and examine the advantages to RPA and reducing risk.
The risks associated with RPA
First, basic RPA technology is literal; it can only do what it has been told to do. In human operations, there are often innate rules that are followed without conscious thought applied, and there is a heightened risk of ‘missing’ rules in a process simply because it is assumed or not documented. These unconscious rules have the potential of causing many complications and errors when missed in a RPA solution that is made up of rule-based, linear solutions and processes.
In addition, mistakes in the implementation of RPA can be devastating to a company and its goals of efficiency and the saving of time and money. If the desired processes are not mapped correctly, automated workflows may be incorrectly performed or incomplete. When it comes to RPA, there is consistency in application, but if the application is done incorrectly, processes will consistently be wrong causing many problems throughout a system. The implementation of RPA runs the risk of any error that may become systemic and cause widespread chaos across business process and data sets.
With these hesitations in mind, let’s take a look at the ways RPA addresses the above vulnerabilities in implementation and actually reduces risk in business operations.
How RPA reduces risk
In a 2016 survey conducted by Capgemini Consulting and Capgemini Business Services of over 150 executives from companies of all different sizes, it was revealed that 86 percent of participants felt RPA can help reduce risk and increase compliance. Let’s take a look at three ways that RPA helps to do just that:
Unlike humans, who may skip a process step, or not be consistent in the processing of a transaction, an RPA robot performs tasks without bias or any variation. This lends support to the automation agenda to manage and minimize risk. RPA has the ability to perform types of exception management tasks, where typically humans are making repetitive simple decisions based on data or criteria. As long as workflows are documented clearly and precisely, RPA can handle these types of tasks and significantly relieve the repetitive burden and risk of error from the human resources performing these tasks. RPA supports consistent application of rules and adherence to control frameworks for decision making as the robots are programmed to follow the standard operating procedure and hence perform the task in exactly the same way, every single time. This consistent operation helps to reduce risk by drastically removing error within a company’s system.
RPA provides several risk management benefits in regards to the activities of compliance in business operations. With the most up-to-date, industry-specific requirements built into the RPA platform, companies can be confident that they are meeting all current requirements, and they will not be reinventing the wheel every time they prepare for an audit or file reports. Additionally, because workflows are automated, companies will spend far less time searching for and entering enormous amounts of data. Automating compliance processes creates a repeatable, managed set of tasks that organize the process, gather data about compliance into a single system and bring any omissions out into the daylight. Especially in the insurance and healthcare industries with strong, regulatory platforms, RPA systems can save the jobs of compliance professionals while saving their employers from millions of dollars in fines.
The agility of the right automation tool should be leveraged as a risk mitigator by enabling systems to accommodate change and embrace increasing complexity. As the demands of the market and pressures of competition continue to grow, workflows being automated are more and more becoming dynamic processes that continually change and evolve. To successfully automate these workflows, a seamless integration of all systems, platforms, programs and applications is required. RPA creates a harmonious framework for companies within their already established infrastructures and allows for the ability to scale up or scale down instantly as well as train and deploy thousands of bots while maintaining complete consistency. The platform of RPA is flexible in nature and companies are able to be assured of a reduction of risk as RPA stands strong and agile in the face of impending change.
Mitigation of risk through RPA
RPA allows organizations to achieve enhanced governance in order to better manage business operations and reduce overall risk. Through the reduction of error, increased compliance, and scalability, RPA is able to help businesses overcome risk through streamlined, flexible processes that can be changed or added to as needed or as times change. In an age of digital transformation, RPA is greatly needed for companies to maintain operations, diminish threats, and focus on fostering growth and outreach within a healthy working environment.
Nick Ostdick is a Digital Content Strategist.