Aecus: Firms embracing robotic process automation

15 April 2015

Robotic process automation is in high demand, reveals a recent study from sourcing specialists Aecus. A third of companies says it has already implemented smart software to replicate human activities, with a further 44% expecting to do so in the coming three years.

Recent years have seen the rise of the robots, generally located in factories operating day and night in some of the most highly efficient processes in the wider production value chain. These sometimes monstrous looking machines are physically able with their various appendages to weld, cut, orientate, among others. Yet these are not the only “robots” of the start of the robotic age. With the rapid advance of Artificial Intelligence, the ability for the activity of the human mind to be mimicked by algorithmic processes has too taken hold on a software level.

Aecus - Robots

Robotic process automation (RPA) offers businesses the opportunity to automate a wide variety of their daily processes that was previously done by humans with software robots. These robots might be involved in voice recognition or in simple chat functions at the front end, or be involved in more complex process on the back end in performing the clerical tasks requiring no discretion or subjective judgements. These robots have the possibility of adding considerable value to businesses, since they can be endlessly replicated for often no additional capital costs, are trustworthy, efficient and programmable for a variety of tasks.

Robots in action
In a recent study, titled ‘Innovation Reality Report’, sourcing consultancy Aecus* explores the level of deployment of RPA in the outsourcing sector. The study, based on the views of more than 100 CxO’s, finds that 32% of respondents have already implemented RPAs, with a further 24% to do so within the next 12 months, while 44% are likely to adopt RPAs in the coming year. Rick Simmonds, Managing Partner at Aecus, notes: “Our survey shows that innovation through outsourcing is really happening, and there is an encouraging pattern of businesses adopting new techniques to ensure they can grow and thrive. Robotics may lag behind other trends in terms of what is happening now, but there is a lot of excitement and interest in its potential in the near future.”

Robotic process automation implementation and adoption

Looking ahead, Simmonds says the outlook for the upcoming technology is bright. “With early implementations already bearing fruit, robotics look set to fundamentally reshape many areas of outsourcing and client businesses.”

Benefits and drawbacks
The benefits for implementing robotic process automation can be significant – according to a recently released viewpoint from Alsbridge robots can deliver a 60% reduction in the cost of many IT services. To tap into the growing demand from clients in the robotic space, the consulting firm recently launched a RPA service line to helps clients identify places in their value chain that can benefit from RPA as well as solutions for implementation.

Robotics is however not only good news, in particular if it is looked at from an employment perspective. A report from Deloitte and Oxford released last year reveals that the ‘robot revolution’ threatens to displace almost 35% of UK jobs in the coming twenty years. 

Current jobs at risk from computerisation - London

* Aecus was founded in December 2014, after the team decided to separate from the Alsbridge group, with which it had a strategic alliance and brand sharing agreement. Alsbridge has since been rebuilding its UK capabilities, and recently acquired Oxford-based Source as part of its expansion strategy.


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First Consulting helps BDO to build new RPA capability with UiPath

22 March 2019

Global accounting and consulting firm BDO is working on its own digital transformation, as it looks to pioneer the use of Robotic Process Automation in its work. Business consultancy First Consulting is helping BDO with designing the RPA journey and building its internal RPA capability.

Robotic Process Automation describes a process that utilises software programmed to autonomously carry out basic tasks across applications, reducing the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees.  Able to be developed and deployed in a matter of weeks, RPA is highly cost-effective and can typically demonstrate returns on investment within a few months. It has been known to dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of processing, resulting in a quicker and higher quality of service to customers.

Last year, BDO explored the value of Robotic Process Automation, concluding the technology has the capacity to bolster the firm’s service offerings as well as internal operations. On the back of this analysis, the professional services firm incorporated RPA into its ICT strategy for the coming years. This has already seen the first robot delivered at BDO, which has since been taken into use by the business.

First Consulting helps BDO to build new RPA capability with UiPath

First Consulting is advising BDO on all aspects of deploying and scaling up the technology across the organisation – from capability building, governance structure and processes to architecture and IT infrastructure. The joint team of BDO and First Consulting have, meanwhile, also taken the first steps to set up an internal RPA capability.

BDO faces a key year for its operations, particularly in the UK where it has recently become the fifth largest provider of audit and advisory services in the country. As the firm looks to further grow its junior auditing market lead over the Big Four, the effective deployment of innovations such as RPA could prove key in the coming period.

With RPA on board, BDO’s ICT department aims at increasing the satisfaction of employees by removing a range of often boring (repetitive, administrative) tasks. By automating such tasks, productivity can also be increased at the professional services firm, as its staff will be freed up to spend more time performing value-adding activities. On top of this, RPA can execute tasks and processes with a lower margin of error compared to humans, enhancing BDO’s internal operations.

Working with RPA vendor UiPath, during the project at BDO, First Consulting has sought to apply its best practice RPA growth model methodology. The approach differentiates between three different growth phases, starting with RPA, structuring RPA, and scaling RPA.

Project results are delivered through an agile approach. According to the engagement partners, the following results were achieved in a period of six weeks:

  • Developed a first robot process that directly creates value for the business and contributes to the 360 degree customer view by migrating information from two systems to another system;
  • Advice and implementation plan on the technical design in relation to RPA, ICT guidelines, a security questionnaire and a basic infrastructure;
  • A roadmap for setting up an internal RPA capability, including the following components: processes & governance, change management and capability building & training;
  • Plan for setting up benefits tracking / monitoring as well as reusability of robot process components.

So far, First Consulting and BDO have enjoyed a pleasant and productive cooperation, achieving “tangible results” along the way. According to First Consulting’s team engaged by the project, the close match between the firms’ norms and values proved a key success factor. In the coming period, First Consulting and BDO are investigating opportunities to develop a digital capability in other areas of BDO’s business.

Roel van Overdam, Head of RPA at First Consulting, said of the collaboration, “Our pragmatic, no-nonsense approach has clearly paid off.”

Related: First Consulting: Is RPA implementation going in the right direction?