In their paper Bots in the Back Office: The coming wave of digital labor KPMG analyzes the current situation in the BPO sector and concludes that classic BPO will face an uncertain future. The reasons are, among other things, rising costs in outsourcing countries and the shrinking number of qualified workers because of demographic changes. It makes labour arbitrage less effective.
However, Robotic Process Automation will fill this gap. RPA solutions are increasingly effective and offer great value for money. Which is why they predict that while classic BPO will decline in importance, RPA's influence will rise.
The Operational Agility Forum has also recognized the changes in the BPO market. This forum is an organization by early adopters of RPA, so the members have practical experience in the use of this technology. In their whotepaper Robotic Process Automation - What's Next for BPO's they compare the advantages of RPA to those of classical outsourcing. According to the forum, RPA robots not only cost just a third of offshored FTEs, they're also easy to scale, work 24 hours a day and speed up processes significantly.
HfS Research also asked early adopters of Robotic Process Automation and presents the results in their analysis: Insights from Early BPO Adopters of Robotic Process Automation. In this paper, they showcase best practice examples and give valuable advice on the implementation of RPA in companies.
The users interviewed for this research said that they chose RPA due to faces at least one of the following three challenges:
- BPO service providers could not achieve the promised cost reductions
- Internal IT did not have the time or the resources to improve processes through software
- Neither the company nor their service providers had an effective method to easily scale resources when necessary, e.g. at the end of the month
They implemented RPA because this technology helped them solve these problems quickly and reliably. Not only did they save costs, the process quality also improved. These adopters also highlight that because of RPA, they gain a vast amount of valuable process data, since everything the robots do is documented. They can then use this data to improve their processes further.
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountamnts) also researched RPA and has written and excellent and thoughtful Whitepaper on the subject. In The robots are coming? Implications for finance shared services they focus on the effect of RPA on finance in particular. They show that there are still many misunderstandings about Robotic Process Automation in the industry, with people being unsure what differentiates RPA from previous automation solutions. RPA, according to the ACCA, is still far too often confused with rudimentary screen scrapinh solutions.
Furthermore, they investigate the interrelationshops of ERPs and RPA. The goal for the finance shared services, accourding to ACCA, is to process everything in one system. That us the reason why, in the past years, huge investments have been made into ERP systems.
However, the reality is far from the goal. There are still too many legacy systems, excel-spreadsheets and manual inputs. Which is exactly where RPA comes into play. RPA, therefore, is the perfect addition to existing ERP systems.
ACCA argues that structured finance processes, which furthermore requore a high degree of compliance, are ideal candidates for RPA. The biggest advantage of RPA, in their eyes, is that everything the robots do is documented. This complete documentation is a bonus, particularly for audits.
The HfS analysis The Current Impact of RPA in F&A BPO Engagements also concludes that RPA offers huge potential to the finance shared services. Particularly because RPA can integrate legacy systems, that cannot be integrated into existing ERP systems because it is either impossible or requires too many resources. Manual data input from one system into the other is particularly prone to errors and RPA can reduce that.
HfS sees big potential for P2P (procure-to-pay) and O2C (order-to-cash processes).
Both HfS as well as ACCA lament that there are too few case studies and that many providers do not offer a proof of concept.
ALMATO does not only have extensive experience with the implementation of RPA in complex processes, but has also succesfully finished several proof of concepts. If you're interested in RPA and want to know how you can integrate the technology into your company, contact us: