When we ask our customers about their aims in implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA), we get a wide range of answers, but one common underlying theme is the goal to make their customers happier. RPA helps businesses achieve this by introducing new efficiencies to services, which in turn improve the customer experience. As we all know from trying to organise something as simple as a conference call, this is easier said than done. In the business world, managing the people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service represents many plates to spin.
Automation removes frustration
With RPA, companies have a chance to streamline and improve their Service Design. I’d say we’re now at a point where any company not using RPA as a key part of large-scale Service Design, is running a large risk of a costly re-design in the future.
Yet even service-savvy companies struggle with what is still a common challenge: Service Designers are still all too often working in isolation. What they really need is the input of Subject Matter Experts (and the processes, paper and systems) that are used within those services.
As many Service Designers will attest, it can often be very hard to obtain the information needed from these SME’s as they are often dealing with the small matter of needing to continually deliver the service!
Matching up the pieces
If it’s done in isolation by management teams and external consultants it can often result in a mismatch between what happens on the ground and the perceived reality. You’ll find the workarounds that have evolved over the years will be missed, as well as the bottlenecks and dependencies (we’ve all worked somewhere only “x person can run that report!”)
By bringing the two roles together you can free up the time of the SMEs to be full time on the longer-term service redesign (and build), and you can gain experience in how and when to automate elements of a service.
An approach we are using at human+ is to map a service end to end at a high-level, and then identify a high volume, repeatable element that can be automated. We then automate that as part of a proof of value. This proves to people across an organisation that RPA can be adopted, and flushes out a lot of the bumps in the road. It can normally be live within 30 days, so it’s a quick turnaround for all involved.
Asking the right questions
More importantly, once this is done, it has freed up the person doing that element of the service to become part of the project team and lend their expertise to solving the wider problem of ‘how do we improve this service?’
This method of reviewing, changing and automating the process then continues, and what you are left with is usually a partially automated and much improved service. The end result? The internal team has learnt some of the skills of automation, and they are then able to work on other processes across the organisation in the same way. The organisation has makes itself a more efficient place and the customer has seen an improvement to the service – mission accomplished.