Why outsource what you can automate??

How automation can reduce the need for outsourcing

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has been around for some time with variable levels of success. The reasons for outsourcing in the first place are many and varied but have typically included moving back-office work offshore to take advantage of lower costs.

The recent articles in the Australian newspaper relating to Rio Tinto’s and Telstra’s extended payment times for suppliers, highlights the challenges that these arm’s length relationships can have, particularly when managed by third parties with different business incentives and cultures.

One of the many obstacles that an outsourced provider has, is to seamlessly interface with the multiple systems/applications that each of its clients use. Lack of integration results in disjointed customer handling, long call centre wait times or protracted processing times for basic services. Just how often do you find yourself on a call where you are transferred from one agent to another, with each one asking you to repeat the same information that you entered at the start of the call?

 

Taking advantage of new technology

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) you can now automate many of the old labour-intensive processes that triggered the need for outsourcing in the first place and you can do this using existing systems.

Take invoice processing automation as an example: RPA provides you with the means to scan and extract data from your invoices. It can then intelligently perform tasks like:

  • return invoices that don’t have a purchase order #
  • check line item pricing against a contract
  • forward invoices for review
  • check for compliance
  • submit invoices for approval if everything checks out

Some of the key business trends for 2020 are influenced by social media where customisation, personalisation, speed and efficiency are critical. RPA addresses these issue by:

  • Firstly, by giving back time to your staff to focus on what’s important, by taking over the routine repetitive stuff that slows them down but is still necessary for compliance; and
  • Secondly, by instantly delivering the information they need to get their work done more productively.

All of this can be achieved whilst also delivering impressive financial returns with first year ROI ranging anywhere from 30% to more than 200%[i]

 

What’s involved?

Ironically, work that has been outsourced usually has clear process steps that have been well documented with established data interfaces and problem escalation procedures. This means that it is possible to quickly see what work is best to bring back in-house and what the benefits will be.

In addition, as the systems used for outsourcing are often the same as the ones used in-house (either through the cloud or via a corporate network) it is possible to plug in new software tools from RPA vendors such as Blue Prism or UiPath to monitor (in real-time) how long each of the various outsourced tasks and activities take to be performed.

This new software typically maps the workflow but also the time taken and the data being accessed by each stakeholder as they perform every step of the process. Powerful, time elapsed visual output (see example below) enables analysis of each activity including what tasks are taking longest to complete and what areas of the process could be automated.

 Example from UiPath Explorer

Process Optimisation

Back-office work still in-house?

If you are one of those companies that has not embraced outsourcing and have internal processes that are slowing your staff down, then RPA still presents a great opportunity with many case studies available to show you what others are doing in your industry or sector.

If you would like to find out more about how RPA can make a difference to your business, give us a call on +61 2 9262 1995 or send an email to [email protected]

 

References

[i] Mckinsey interview Leslie Willcocks, Professor of Technology, Work, and Globalization at the London School of Economics’ Department of Management. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Financial%20Services/Our%20Insights/The%20value%20of%20robotic%20process%20automation/The-value-of-robotic-process-automation.ashx

[ii] Aquiliti is a UiPath Partner