In the increasingly digital world, new technologies are constantly redefining the way businesses operate. One revolutionary innovation is gaining serious traction with manufacturers and distributors.  Transforming front office ROI such as improving customer experience, to back-office efficiencies like increasing accuracy of data capture, are some of many reasons why B2B and B2C companies are catching up with Robotic Process Automation, or RPA.

Introduced in our previous blog post, Robotic Process Automation: The Future of Exceptional Customer Service?, RPA is a cloud-based application that uses machine learning to mimic user’s actions and map data. It learns and adapts as it goes, while combating time consuming and error-prone daily tasks of customer service reps (CSRs). While with change comes opportunity for growth, it is important for decision makers to weigh the pros and the cons before jumping onboard.

The Good:

Faster and Higher Quality Process Turnaround

Real-time order fulfillment finally lives up to its name! RPA is designed to take care of mundane tasks which are often the most error-prone. With no need for manual processing and data entry, RPA technology enables accuracy and speed in delivery. The technology allows staff to focus their skills on company projects that drive innovation and profits. It lets companies leave the computing work to the computers.

Data Touch Points

RPA solutions can pinpoint patterns and provide prescriptive recommendations to enhance sales efforts through compiling a long term historical view of purchase orders. It can identify peak order periods, seasonal trends, and highlight products that are selling with more frequency. Insights from these data points can allow companies to more effectively prescribe solutions to boost productivity.

Scalability and Agility

Many key operational processes such as order processing can change depending on varying situations like seasonal trends. RPA is a flexible and tireless digital workforce that easily adjusts to order volume fluctuations to optimize workflow without requiring training additional staff for busy seasons. In a broader context, RPA also allows for other operational or company size changes, scaling up or down while maintaining consistency and accuracy in delivery.

The Bad:

Implementation Cost

Although RPA is designed to cut costs and save time in the long run, the short-term investment of implementation is significant. Decision makers should consider whether the benefits are worth the initial sum as well as the continued costs of operating and maintaining the technology.

Potential Impacts

While preparing for implementation, looking at how RPA impacts the business and its stakeholders needs consideration. Decision makers need to find metrics that best evaluate the progress of automation and whether it is valuable for the organization. As well, stakeholders should be made aware of the what, how, and why of automation.

Preparation

Decision makers may want to dive straight into implementing automation technology, but the planning and assessment stage can’t be overlooked. They must first identify a suitable process to automate and use it as an initial pilot to determine its fit and areas for improvement. The pilot stage can help decide the optimized model for operation, including the number of staff needed to maintain efficiency and a smooth process flow.

Is it For You?

Ultimately, reaping the benefits of RPA requires careful planning. Ensuring the business is prepared for the process of installation, staff must be trained to manage the technology properly and all stakeholders need to embrace the changes it brings. Most of the drawbacks of RPA are related to poor planning and misunderstanding of the technology. It is critical to ensure that RPA is relevant to the overall strategic roadmap and long-term delivery model. As well, all stakeholders must be clear on the intricacies of the application, including proper steps for implementation and monitoring. There is little doubt that RPA can improve accuracy, cut costs, and deliver exceptional customer service in the long run, with the correct implementation plan that fits your business model.