Many financial services organizations around the world are capitalizing on the benefits of robotic process automation.

Attracted by the prospect of improved efficiency and productivity, insurers are beginning to deploy this technology to enhance their operational performance. Some pilot projects are delivering impressive results. Costs and processing times in some of these projects have been cut by as much as 80 percent.

Several insurers are looking to upscale their robotics projects and gain strategic business benefits from this technology. This is often far from easy.

In my previous blog I highlighted a few potential pitfalls – neglecting other applications, automating unsuitable processes and not consulting with the rest of the business.

So what’s the right way for insurers to deploy robotic process automation? We can learn a lot by looking at financial services companies that have successfully implemented this technology. Barclays and the Co-operative Bank in the UK are good examples.

Instead of rushing to deploy robotic systems throughout their organizations, successful companies have adopted a far more thorough and incremental approach. They’ve taken time to understand the tasks performed by employees throughout the organization. They’ve analysed these tasks to identify those that are the most frequent and repetitive and also adhere to a set of clearly defined rules. These tasks are most suited to automation. Then they’ve assessed the impact and benefit of automating these processes.

Such a holistic and systematic approach enables organizations to devise and implement a strategy that maximizes the business benefits of robotic process automation.

Here are some of the key steps to building a successful automation capability:

  • Establish governance – A C-suite executive must head the program. The COO and CTO should agree on the approach and its integration with other change initiatives. It’s important to include a senior Operations representative in the early planning of the program.
  • Define the journey – A clear vision, strategy and roadmap for the program are vital. A broad range of automation tools, not just robotic systems, should be assessed to determine their potential benefit to the organization.
  • Identify the right processes – A comprehensive analysis of processes throughout the enterprise should be conducted to identify those suitable for robotic process automation. It’s also important to determine which of these activities need to be standardized or re-engineered before they are fully automated.
  • Build capability – Robust processes and tools must be aligned to the organization’s business objectives as well as its IT initiatives and change management approaches. Small projects can be useful but they need to be soon integrated with the organization’s key processes.
  • Assess talent impact – A thorough assessment of the impact of automation on the workforce is essential. It should determine the effect of this technology on traditional roles, the future mix of in-house and outsourced functions, and the best way to engage employees and secure support for the program throughout the organization.

Implementing robotic process automation is far from easy. But the potential strategic  benefits are substantial.

In my next blog I’ll take a closer look at managing the impact of robotic process automation on the workforce. It’s an important issue. Until then, you can find more information on this link.

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