Over the last few years, robotic process automation (RPA) has quickly become a transformative force across many industries. RPA uses software robots to manipulate and communicate with business systems and applications, streamlining processes and reducing the burden on human employees.
Sounds great, right? But how can you be sure that a robotic process automation platform will be worth the initial benefit? Read this guide to learn which factors to plan for when considering the potential ROI of RPA software. The guide also includes a link to the Robotic Process Automation ROI Calculator to help you determine the return on investment of automating specific processes within your organization.
Getting the Most ROI out of RPA
Businesses are eager to adopt robotic process automation, but there are a lot of solutions out there and determining the right one for your business requirements can be confusing. The key to gaining a competitive edge through automation is finding software that meets your unique current needs and scales to your future vision with minimal additional cost beyond your initial investment.
Organizations are often deterred by the perceived cost of implementing a digital workforce, but miss key areas where automation can save. This guide and the ROI calculator that comes with the HelpSystems Robotic Process Automation Toolkit will help you complete a thorough and accurate evaluation of your investment and potential savings.
Have a Long-Term Automation Vision
If you’re considering purchasing an automation solution, you probably have a process in mind that needs automating. It can be smart to start with low-hanging fruit—especially if you need to get approval for the investment. But robotic process automation’s value is in its flexibility and scalability, so if you’re not seeking out further automation opportunities within the organization, your RPA software isn’t living up to its potential.
When you plan your automation expansion strategy, you want to look for the highest-volume processes and the ones that would have the biggest impact on your bottom line. These are often not processes that are limited to one department, so make sure you investigate automation opportunities spanning the entire enterprise.
Once you have found the processes you want to automate, you’ll often get the best RPA ROI if you optimize them before automating. Too frequently, inefficiencies in manual processes get baked into RPA workflows, decreasing return on investment. RPA is meant to mimic humans, but that doesn’t mean it needs to take the exact steps a human would. For example, sometimes a human workforce will have redundant tasks in order to check for errors. Robots don’t need that kind of verification. Start by documenting the entire process as it is currently being executed, then determine where you might be able to eliminate or merge tasks.
After implementing RPA software, the cost of adding more software robots should be minimal or non-existent, depending on your solution and the number of robots being added. Consequently, the more robots you add, the more you spread out the impact of your initial fixed costs. Continually seek out ways to expand your automation. We recommend having a team or committee responsible for finding and analyzing automation opportunities throughout the organization.
Some businesses turn to outsourcing for automation, rather than automating internally. While initially this might be easier or cheaper, implementing a solution internally has more long-term, sustainable benefits. When you automate your own processes, most of the expense is up front, but your automation will continue to scale cost-effectively alongside your business. Plus, you know your own workflows. RPA is intuitive even for non-programmers, and implementing it internally allows you to configure and tweak robots as needed—without relying on a third-party.
The Cost of Getting Started
Inevitably, there will be some one-time costs associated with your initial purchase and implementation. In addition to the cost of the software itself, you’ll want to assess and plan for the cost of:
- IT infrastructure
- Initial integration with existing systems
- User training
- Creation and management of procedures and frameworks
As you scale your digital workforce and automate more processes, the savings will overtake these initial costs. However, you will still be left with some maintenance costs, such as:
- Software licenses
- Software maintenance and upgrades
- Development and testing
- User support and ongoing training
- Infrastructure updates
- Program management
Remember, the more you expand your automation and scale to include more software robots, the more these costs will be offset, resulting in a higher RPA ROI.
Additional Areas of Savings
You’re probably already aware that automating manual processes will allow you to grow your business without adding more staff, or to put your human employees on more valuable projects while the digital workforce takes over tedious manual tasks. Have you considered the time you lose when your human employees take vacation, get sick, or go home for the night? Robotic process automation works 24/7 with no time off.
Sometimes, rather than taking over tasks from people, software robots work alongside the human workforce. For example, they might help to quickly access order history and other information that your customer service team needs to do their best work. This helps your bottom line because it helps your employees perform well.
People make mistakes. Robots don’t. Implementing robotic process automation can save you from spending any time correcting human errors.
Has your team ever written a custom script to automate a process? Custom scripts are often the first resort of businesses looking to save time, but in the long run too much scripting actually becomes time-consuming and risky to maintain. Robotic process automation software allows you to automate (or update) a task within minutes, so you can count scripting time into your RPA savings.
The RPA Toolkit and ROI Calculator
The RPA ROI Calculator helps you calculate how much you will save by implementing RPA in your organization. Armed with information from the calculator, you can obtain approval for an RPA solution or plan your optimal RPA strategy. The calculator is part of a larger collection of tools designed to aid you in achieving your automation goals and building your automation center of excellence.