First Consulting on how to enable robot assistants for employees

28 September 2018 Authored by Consultancy.uk

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an innovative technology increasingly used to fully automate human steps in business processes. It is expected that RPA will impact all different process types within organisations, leading to huge efficiency gains. First Consulting, who are actively involved in this RPA revolution, envisions a future where all employees can be supported by their own personal robot assistant. In discussion with Consultancy.uk, experts at First Consulting say that robots of this kind could not only handle administrative tasks, but could also be able to handle increasingly more complex tasks through self-learning capabilities.

Over the years, First Consulting has built a track record supporting organisations in applying and implementing RPA. By investigating how RPA fits within the organisation and its IT architecture, the firm’s business consultants identify the most sustainable way to benefit from the technology. After investigating the opportunity and forming a business case, they work with organisations to embed efficiency gains for sustainable results.

What is RPA?

RPA is sometimes mistaken for the usage of physical robots, but this is certainly not the case. RPA is software that mimics human interaction within a digital environment (often administrative) and can be thought of as providing a virtual workforce of virtual employees. RPA operates within existing IT systems and applications, which minimises its impact on the IT architecture of the organisation. This allows RPA implementations to be business, rather than IT driven.

The market roughly divides robots into two categories:
Attended robot – This robot is activated in real time by the operational employee in order to perform a specific function.
Unattended robot – This robot is prescheduled, normally taking its cases from a work queue of some kind and continuing until they are complete.

What is RPA?

A robot as a personal assistant

This article considers the attended office robot, the robot that is actively managed by the employee. Suppose an employee is working on entering a new customer into the system. While the employee is entering the customer details in the system, they can tell the robot to search for supplementary customer and industry characteristics. The robot can do this by searching in the database of the Chamber of Commerce or in other such internal/external systems. This can save the employee a great deal of time, and moreover, mitigates the risks of manual ‘copy-paste’ errors by the employee.

It is a common misconception that robots can only be applied within administrative settings; the construction and utilities sectors in particular have a large potential for these robots as well. For example: engineers in these sectors often need to come into the office to prepare their work order. A robot is perfectly suited to do these tasks for the engineer, freeing up their time and eliminating unnecessary travel. The robot can decide which orders have the highest priority and what materials are needed for the execution of this order. After completion of the order, the engineer can submit the relevant data to the robot, which will enter it into the relevant back-end systems.

It is not only the efficiency that is improved by the presence of a robot, the day-to-day tasks of employees also become more attractive. An employee can focus on primary processes that add value, without being distracted with more tedious administrative tasks that used to be an essential part of the job. Hence, the presence of robots can exponentially increase employee satisfaction within a company.

How do I get moving with RPA?

Imagine the impact of having all employees spend 30 minutes extra per day on adding value to the business process and adding value for clients. The business case for the use of robots is then quickly made.

How to get moving with RPA?

Creating hundreds or maybe even thousands of robots is not something that is sketched up in an afternoon’s work and implemented overnight. To implement RPA, three areas require according to First Consulting specific attention:

1. The organisation needs to be technically able. When applying RPA, the IT department is directly engaging with individual employees and their specific processes. This differs vastly from large-scale implementations of IT software that are directed and managed from the company headquarters. Many processes and tasks of employees are subject to change, and these changes have impact across different workstreams. The business will have to explore how to organise this and re-evaluate the possibilities. To help customers gain insights in this, First Consulting has developed an online RPA tool.

2. Choosing the right type of RPA platform is crucial with respect to the options an organisation has, to ensure a controlled and scalable roll out of the software. It is important to include the IT-department in the discussions about balancing out the requirements and nice-to-haves.

3. Do not underestimate the positive impact on employees! Making the robot assistant effective and efficient is a time-consuming and intensive process for employees. To achieve the full potential of robot assistants, employees will also need to broaden their skillset and be willing to continually improve and digitise their own work.

According to Jon Nelmes, UK Managing Director of First Consulting, “We help our clients to achieve the full potential of robots within their organisation. From the drawing-board to implementation, we actively involved in bringing RPA to life.”

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