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From Rpa To Intelligent Automation & Beyond
Jp Raffenot, Vp, Information Technology, Genworth
With a wide-ranging product and application portfolio, we have many manual and complex operational processes that have been developed over the years. Robotics process automation (RPA) offered a solution that could reduce employees’ tedious and repetitive tasks and cut costs across the organization. To date, we have successfully automated over 30,000 hours (annualized), have over 500 bots running in production, and saw a return on investment within the first year of production. We attribute this success to a focus on citizen development, partnership between business units, the flexibility of RPA, and a focus on governance. Our program was designed from the ground up, with people who aren’t working within an IT department to perform what has traditionally been IT work, also referred to as citizen development. The subject matter expert (SME) in a process is most likely to know the pain points, a sweet spot for applying RPA, so we built a training and coaching program to teach any employee how to use RPA and automate their work. Each trainee is asked to select a potential task for automation so that they leave the program with both knowledge and proof of the value proposition to be found in RPA. We believe citizen development will be inherent to our employee’s skillset in the future, a logical evolution of today’s productivity tools.
One of the benefits we have seen from the program is a deepening of the partnership between IT and non-IT functions – everyone is working together to meet goals and deadlines. A center of excellence has been established within IT to assist and monitor the program, provide training, and ensure best practice sharing and collaboration occurs across business lines regularly. Quantitative metrics are maintained to ensure accountability and demonstrate the benefits and value of the program across all levels of the organization.
“Integrating current and emerging technologies into a strong automation strategy helps ensure we will continue to improve process efficiency, accelerate delivery, and reduce expenses moving forward”
The flexibility of RPA appeals to both process owners and IT developers. In addition to the usual RPA “swivel chair” use cases, such as, filling forms, monitoring events, and extracting data, bots can be used to handle manual workarounds, while IT develops a long term solution. Because bots can interact directly with the user interface, RPA can be a quick and inexpensive ETL solution, instead of building a new application to integrate systems.
Some of the capabilities presented by RPA raised security concerns, so we knew that strong governance would be needed to meet (or exceed) industry regulations and our own internal standards and policies. We addressed these points in the control design and the training program, partnering with Audit and Security to validate the approach. A solid framework for governance and communication significantly reduced the risks, including the probability of shadow or rogue IT occurring in the environment.
The fusion of IT with other business functions helped guarantee the success of the RPA program and has prepared us to meet the challenges in today’s competitive markets and the uncertainty from the pandemic. Integrating current and emerging technologies into a strong automation strategy helps ensure we will continue to improve process efficiency, accelerate delivery, and reduce expenses moving forward. We firmly believe that we work in an industry in which almost everything can be automated, resulting in the strategic expansion of RPA into Intelligent Automation, by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as computer vision, natural language processing (NLP), intelligent document processing (IDP), task mining, and machine learning, into the program, preparing us for the future.