Updated: Sep 14, 2020
As Robotic Process Automation (RPA) developments increase and businesses accrue experience with their bots, processes that are automated will get increasingly complex with hybrid workforces that require human and digital workers to collaborate.
By now, people have heard of the many benefits RPA: dramatically reduced costs, fewer errors, and faster business velocity. But did you know that RPA can also help employees collaborate?
It might not seem obvious at first, but yes, RPA encourages employees to work closely with one another – as well as with customers and the software robots that make up your new Digital Workforce. Here are five ways your employees are improving collaboration:
1. Collaboration between IT and the business
For decades, experts have been advocating that IT departments should be working more closely with the rest of the business. But at many organizations, there has yet to be true collaboration between technical experts and business users. When taken to an extreme, this disconnect can turn into true technological dysfunction, where rogue IT activities proliferate because technicians feel ignored by business users.
Deploying RPA removes this frightening possibility from the equation. By definition, RPA requires technologists and non-technical employees to work hand-in-hand. The whole team is involved in identifying processes ripe for automation and rethinking them so the automated processes don’t simply speed up outdated ways of doing things, but actually improve business processes.
2. Collaboration between employees and customers
Whether B2B or B2B, interactions between sales people and customers are complex. Discussions about product characteristics that best suit the customer’s needs must be supported by more routine tasks, such as determining if the product is in stock, processing the order, and arranging for delivery.
Unfortunately, these mundane aspects of selling often get in the way of closing the actual sale. By automating these tasks, letting bots take care of them, you can collaborate with customers and deliver products and services that meet their precise requirements.
3. Collaboration between employees who have never worked together before
Automating an end-to-end process often forces employees to collaborate, including employees who never before had any reason to interact with each other. That’s because to create bots that automate a process, you have to think through the process careful. What’s the current way of doing something? How many humans are involved? From which departments? Is the current way of doing things the best method, or are you doing it out of habit and convenience?
To automate well, and to answer those questions, you have to create cross-functional teams– people from accounts payable, invoicing, finance, and customer service, for example – and have them think through possibilities together.
You may have a dozen different process variations that you weren’t even aware of. But talking it through makes you realize how everything is interconnected. And, by collaborating within cross-functional teams, you can transform your work processes instead of fortifying already inflexible legacy systems.
4. Collaboration between trouble-shooters and problem-solvers
When automation goes awry, trouble-shooters and problem-solvers can come together to correct the course. Say a transaction that was automated fails. A best-in-class bot solution will provide insight into what went wrong. By informing the right people, and keeping them in the loop, you can open up opportunities for collaboration that is more efficient and effective.
Several Automation Anywhere Enterprise customers are developing bots with a dual-team approach to ensure that bots work properly. One team can develop the core automation functionality while the other validates the logic of the automation. If anything is misaligned, the two teams can come together to remedy the problem. This ensures that the whole project is thoroughly tested and double-checked.
5. Collaboration between employees and bots
As RPA deployments increase and businesses accrue experience with their bots, automated processes become increasingly complex, and will require hybrid workforces, human and digital workers. That’s because, as processes become more complicated and multifaceted, human judgement will often be needed. Bots perform their share of the task, pass it onto a human, who will then return it back to a bot for another action. Thinking, making a choice, deciding on a course of behaviors: that only a human can do. We’ll see more and more of these bot-human collaborations the more deeply RPA becomes embedded in businesses.