As the world faces unprecedented challenges with the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses are struggling to cope either because demand has fallen away or, if they have the demand, they do not have the people available to meet it. What this crisis has made abundantly clear is that the weakest link in the global supply chain are the human beings.
Of course, much of the supply chain is already automated, and much of it depends on the physical movement of goods. But there are still huge elements of it that have humans in the loop: keying in data, making simple routing decisions, checking records, answering queries, etc. In “normal” times, all of these activities would be on anyone’s list of processes that could be automated, using Robotic Process Automation and associated technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. And they are still all potentially automatable, but now we have to face additional challenges to achieve that.
The biggest challenge is time. Many businesses have seen demand for their products and services disappear overnight, leaving them with huge sunk costs and little revenue coming in. Reducing costs as soon as possible is their key priority but being able to do so without destroying what business they have left is a fine balance. RPA would seem like a natural solution because the work can continue to be done but at a lower cost and without risk of illness. But, of course, it takes time to automate processes properly – it is not simply a case of identifying a process and putting in a robot the same day that reproduces the work. There are all the exceptions to worry about, the nuances of how different people might do the same process, security considerations, data confidentiality, etc. And that’s after you’ve installed a brand-new piece of software on your servers and set up all the appropriate permissions and access rights.
The other big challenge to implementing RPA during the pandemic is being physically present. There is nothing better than the consultant sitting next to the person carrying out the process, asking all the questions, seeing all the nuances, so that all of these can be transposed accurately to the robot configuration.
But that’s not to say none of this can be done. Rahm Emanuel, an Obama advisor and recent mayor of Chicago once said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”. So, perhaps this is the time to start to think and do things a little differently. With the right mindset and approach, it is still possible to implement RPA quickly and safely. There needs to be a laser-like focus on the job in hand and close collaboration between everyone involved, but it can be done. Costs can be reduced, knowledge retained, and services kept running.
If you want to know more about how Roboyo can help you with this “new normal”, then please get in touch today.