Waqqas Mahmood is the Director of Advanced Technology and Innovation at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP. He has over 15 years of experience in digital transformation across several industry verticals. Waqqas has an extensive background in cognitive computing and artificial Intelligence (AI) powered solutions, such as machine learning, advanced analytics, and robotic process automation (RPA).

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is the application of a cost-effective software that mimics human action and connects multiple fragmented systems together through automation without changing the current enterprise IT landscape. Process automation enables organizations to automate existing high-volume and complex, multi-step data handling actions as if business users were doing the work; it captures and interprets existing applications, manipulates data, triggers responses, and communicates with other systems.

One of the top industries in which RPA seems to be having significant impact is the financial services sector. There many RPA “use cases” that can provide both strategic and tactical advantage to financial organizations. The credit union industry in particular is going through a digital transformation. Credit union members are looking for a similar digital experience they are accustomed to in their work and personal lives. From connected car services, to getting their groceries picked and delivered right to their doors – they demand instant gratification at an affordable cost. Credit union members are experiencing significant changes with their simple behavioral preferences in the way they prefer to interact with their credit union on a real time basis.

How can RPA deliver efficient, cost-effective, high quality results? In our experience, it begins with a member experience-led approach. In order to unlock the member’s pain points and create happy paths, we need to look at these five key qualities:

  1. Demographic transformation: Member demographics are evolving and the range of service needs is expanding
  2. Instant visibility: Members across all demographics are increasingly using real time data and information to manage their experiences
  3. Technology revolution: Developments in technology that are transforming the way members interact and manage their finances are causing disruption to the traditional credit union value chain
  4. New products and services: A range of products and services beyond the Automated Teller Machines(ATM) is developing alongside increasing competition
  5. Accelerating expectations: 24/7 service models are ‘resetting’ member expectations far beyond the traditional credit union capability set

Like most rule-based technologies, RPA ‘bots’ rely on a strong design and business process understanding. This dependency is based on a holistic automation strategy and a member experience/user experience design in order to deliver its true value. In a recent survey conducted by Forrester, around 70% of RPA implementations are facing performance and scalability related challenges when it comes to RPA technology1. The respondents implemented bots at an accelerated rate, but failed to utilize user experience elements, such as personas, journey maps, or hassle calculators, and didn’t apply behavior analytics to drive customer value.

When RPA is a hammer, then every business process starts to look like a nail. But a key point to remember is that not every business process is ripe for robotic automation. Organizations need to look closely at the process suitability criteria to help filter the right RPA opportunities. In our experience, the ‘rule of three’ works very well during the early days of an organization’s automation journey.

 Process suitability criteria:

  1. Deterministic (Rule-Based): This process contains a defined set of tasks required for execution.

A process is deterministic if:

  • There is a sequential series of tasks with fixed start and end conditions
  • There is no randomness or judgement (i.e., rule based) in outcomes
  1. Digitized (Electronic): The data required for the process can be accessed electronically.

Examples of digitized storage include:

  • Local PC drive
  • Shared network drive
  • IT Application / database
  1. Documented (Well Defined): The process is transcribed with the appropriate details.

Critical details include:

  • All business process owners
  • Instructions for executing each process task
  • Key business/system exceptions and corresponding workarounds

Implementing RPA technology is a marathon, not a sprint. And like all marathons it requires training, consistency, and endurance. When starting the automation journey, companies will often turn to external resources for strategy help and implementation. Selecting an RPA implementation partner requires a keen eye for how value is delivered and knowledge is disseminated within the organization. The RPA technology delivery model Baker Tilly uses closely aligns us with an organization. We become an integral member of the team to establish the operating model, assess opportunities, train staff, and accelerate the initial phases of automation and benefit realization. As a proven, efficient approach to tackle change and business analysis requirements, our model provides both the largest benefit and lowest cost of ownership.

We bring RPA experience, industry specific expertise, and a set of accelerators to create an automation journey that adheres to the client’s overall corporate strategy and their IT landscape. To learn more about Baker Tilly’s automation point of view, please reach out to me at waqqas.mahmood@bakertilly.com.

1 – The New Frontier of Automation: Enterprise RPA. A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By UiPath, December 2017.