Transform Your Business Through Smart Process Automation

Service Delivery Automation in the IT BPM industry can can cut costs, free resources and maximize revenue enabling organisations to gain competitive advantage

Being lean and mean is not just a lifestyle fad. Companies around the world are looking to cut costs, free resources and maximize revenue in order to gain competitive advantage.

According to recent reports, Service Delivery Automation (SDA) which replaces human actions in a business/IT set up has the potential to reduce costs by 35% - 65%. Though automation per-se is not a new concept, the need of the hour are scalable SDA solutions that complement existing technologies, eliminate high-volume, repetitive tasks and free up resources to do higher-value work.

Though SDA is still an evolving technology, it has proved to produce substantial productivity improvements. The migration from analog to digital has opened up several opportunities for automation. As businesses leave behind paper-based functions and embrace digital systems and processes, there is an ongoing wave of SDA implementations as new Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools broaden the scope of potential candidate processes that can be automated. Formerly disparate processes can now be linked together into end-to-end cohesive functions.

To automate successfully, an intimate knowledge of processes is needed. For instance, in RRD’s case, our extensive experience in business process outsourcing has given us a tremendous advantage in implementing SDA successfully. We have deep experience in mapping out complicated work functions and boiling them down to segmented categorical action items. We can zero in on what is truly strategic and judgement-dependent and what can be defined by objective guidelines.

So, before carrying out an SDA engagement plan, what are the things one should keep in mind?

Preparation is key

The adage “Measure twice. Cut once” holds good here!

It’s crucial to do a full context assessment of the product and the overall operational environment. The more we know and understand up front, the more you can implement a really transformative solution as opposed to settling for a small patch fix. Before diving into automation, it’s important to digitize as many analog steps as possible. This step can often expand the scope of automation far beyond what was originally envisioned. In most cases, we find that the optimal solution is a tri-fold effort of global sourcing, process improvement and automation implemented concurrently. This is precisely why a thorough assessment must be done to gain a deeper view of all strategic, systems, functional and compliance issues we should be taking into account for creating a long-term road map for ongoing process maturation, optimal sourcing and automation.

So, how much does SDA really accomplish?

Though the answers vary, in a large organization, we have typically seen a 30% - 40% reduction in manual processing steps. However, on an individual process basis, gains can range from 10% - 90% depending on the process maturation, degree of digitization, frequency of exceptions and the presence of truly judgement-dependent action items. It must be kept in mind that results vary on a case to case basis.

Organizations must anticipate challenges when deploying an SDA solution. Very often clients do not foresee to what extent additional gains can be produced through enhancements to existing systems such as an altered interface, an additional plug-in or some other digital enhancement. Sometimes a small system tweak can make a big difference to the overall outcome.

For companies who are looking to transform their business through SDA, it is important to identify the right process for a proof of concept. If a wrong process is selected, it leads to lackluster gains and reduced client confidence. The process identification conversation is something that I insist on having with any client interested in SDA. Furthermore, I encourage clients to build a strong governance and change management team to oversee an automation initiative from beginning to end. Automation introduces changes to organizations both operationally and culturally, so it is important to embark on this process with broad sponsorship, deep thinking and collegial transparency. Change can be challenging.  


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