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Taking RPA Mainstream (Part Two of Two)

Alsbridge Managing Director Bill Huber recently interviewed Sean Tinney, Global Head of Innovation and Transformation at Sutherland Global Services, on the current state of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market and on where the technology is headed.  Part One of their discussion examined how RPA redefines the concept of “full-time equivalent.” In Part Two, they look at practical considerations involved in implementation.

BH: How long do you think it will be before RPA becomes the prevalent form of delivery?

ST: For Sutherland it is how we go to market, and how we deliver. Every new agreement has an element of RPA embedded in our delivery.   There still seems to be a good deal of marketing rather than deployment.  Actual delivery is still limited.  I believe that we are 12-18 months away from wide scale deployment in the market, and about six months until most of Sutherland’s clients have RPA deployed.

BH: What are the change management challenges on the client side?

ST: Change management is huge.  Clients look at it contractually, how do we go from a sourced to a retained environment?  How do we manage the process changes: What are the new quality metrics?  The challenge becomes one of [bringing] together all of the constituents and process implications.  Any change to any of the systems on the client side will impact the robotic programs.  You need to have good visibility to manage the risks at a much more granular level.  This needs to be managed as a separate stream with strong project management.  It requires careful synchronization to avoid problems.  We need to solve for both the project and for changes to the client’s organization.  The client may not always be able to communicate their internal changes because they can be siloed internally.  Robotics truly is transformative, but like anything that you are changing on a mass scale, you need to over invest in change management.

BH: What are going to be the biggest areas for RPA in the next year?

ST: Next year, we expect a nice push into human resources processes.  The push will be to get all inquiries to a help desk or employee self-service.  There are so many repeatable tasks — like onboarding — where we will see adoption.  Also — within health care — credentialing, claims processing and revenue processes will provide a large opportunity.

This will be followed closely by insurance and then the banking and mortgage industries.  How can you use robotics as an audit and quality tool?  Subjectivity and exceptions are kicked out of the process.  When you look at comparing information to a system of record against a source file and an application, you can use robotics to automate those checks and reporting.  Audit, compliance and quality as a service in multiple industries.

There are three things that make a successful RPA deployment:

  • Quality
  • Productivity
  • Visibility

The base of all of this is quality.  Inherently all [RPA] allows [us] to offer a quality as-a-service offering.  All of the data points that [are] created by going through greater detail on process documentation allows a whole new level of analytics.  The reality is that robotics is one small component.  The secret is how exceptions [are managed] and how analytics [are implemented], which will drive toward outcome-based and gainshare-based pricing models.

BH: What do advisors like Alsbridge need to do differently to address the age of RPA?

ST: Create a separate group to understand Robotics, and how to work with clients to identify opportunities for robotics.  Help clients to understand what a programs is; to define a program; and to assist a client in selecting the right service provider.  Educate the clients and help them to understand where there may be an opportunity.  Not only bring the right provider to the table, but help the clients prepare for RPA.

BH: What keeps you up at night?

ST: Change management keeps me up at night!  As good as the best change management programs can be, there is always something that happens or someone who doesn’t communicate accurately.  If virtually any change falls through the cracks, bells and whistles will go off.  The best RPA implementations are still mini solutions.  If the change management is nailed down, there is little cause to worry about the system slowing down or breaking.



About the author

Bill is a sourcing industry leader and active proponent of helping to create professional standards and best practices. His areas of expertise include sourcing strategies, shared services and contract negotiations. Throughout his career he has been responsible for both business development and delivery of strategic advisory services in procurement, vendor management and operational transformation.