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Kit Cox

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Fintech innovation and startups

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Struggling with Back Office Automation? The Answer Might be Simpler than You Think

29 June 2017  |  3247 views  |  0

If you are struggling to create or maintain momentum in your automation initiative, the answer may be simpler than you think. Organisations that are successfully managing automation and digital service and transaction delivery are those who are creating and following an incremental approach that maps out where to start and how to evolve over time – a ‘digital roadmap’, effectively.

Getting started with automation

First, the good news – you are not alone. Without a digital roadmap, many across the industry are failing to cross the Rubicon to deliver transformed, digital services. The fact is that it’s still not uncommon to feel bombarded by automation technologies, not knowing how or where to start.

Or, you may be in the same boat as other companies who have made the leap into automation by buying licenses to drive various pilots involving process automation and other BPM tools, yet still finding it difficult to measure the effectiveness of these initiatives or to build on their early successes.

A clear digital roadmap addresses both of these situations, helping insurance companies decide where to take the first bite of the automation elephant and then how to munch their way through the beast, from tail to trunk. It gives a foundation for transforming to a more digital future, regardless of the maturity of automation within a business or the RPA, AI or cognitive technologies in play.

And there’s more good news – you will make new friends, including the IT department! IT tends not to like automation initiatives, which are seen as “grey” IT and outside their control. Unsurprisingly, agreeing on a digital roadmap is likely to be music to their ears, as they can influence technology choices and ensure that they are ready to cope with any technology or architectural changes required over time.

So, what does a good roadmap look like?

The key is that it should be incremental and stage-based. Whether you’re looking to automate processes surrounding claims processing, customer services requests, new account set ups, complaint acknowledgment or change of policy details, the focus is the same: each process should be evaluated for automation and proven, one process at a time.

This gradual, measured approach reduces project risk by minimising large scale commitments and means that you don’t have to commit to long term technology decisions at the outset. It also makes it easier for the people on the ground to measure what’s actually happening – something that’s very difficult when automation is adopted en masse.

The gradual approach also clears the way to assess whether individual processes are working correctly before they are assessed together as part of a longer chain involving other processes and people, designed to deliver end-to-end services.

Technologies such as Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) manage end-to-end services, allocating tasks to either humans or software robots in order to fulfil a business process. This more sophisticated type of service delivery moves beyond addressing routine tasks where there is little variability, and into services that require a high degree of variability. Where RPA addresses “how” businesses can automate a particular process, RSO tells you “what” processes to automate and “why.” Imagine, for example, being able to deliver services from multiple locations to local standards, aligned to a detailed cost and productivity reporting capability.

It’s about ensuring that automation extends beyond the pilot stage of a projects, and ensuring that organisations will be able to manage the entire automation process, not just the related pieces.

The simple fact is that the back office has grown big and unwieldy, and if we are to meet the expectations of the newly defined 21st century ‘customer experience’ and ‘employee experience,’ we need to shrink the back office and intelligently automate one step at a time, with humans and automation technologies working together to deliver better services. 

 

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Kit is an entrepreneur with 15 years experience in the BPO and technology industries. Kit is passionate about the benefits that great outsourcing and shared service organisations can bring and is keen...

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