IPA can be considered as a robotic technology that takes over repetitive tasks in an optimized way and originally performed by humans.
The IPA (for intelligence process automation) deserves to be further deployed and still has great development potential ahead of it. According to a recent report by IDC(1), this market should grow by 20% by 2025. Although the IPA is ready to take off, the technological race is already on for companies. Capture tools, low-code IPA platforms, RPA, process and/or task mining, machine learning, are all tools that promote business growth. Before adding a new string to its bow, it is important to keep in sight the initial objective of the project and the means to be implemented, in order to ultimately achieve process automation and therefore support the growth of the activity.
For each situation, its tool
Before starting, it is crucial to establish a plan of attack in order to know where and how to achieve your objective. Often confused with artificial intelligence (AI), API is the tools users use to automate their business processes. Therefore, it is important to adopt the solution best suited to the specifications in order to implement the IPA automation solution best suited to a given situation.
Intelligent capture (also called LAD/RAD) is a tool dedicated to a simple but time-consuming situation. It facilitates the profound transformation of back-office activities such as the processing of complaints, invoices or the opening of accounts. A more advanced tool, such as AI, can meet more complex needs such as intelligent processing and interpretation of documents, identification of recurring patterns (patterns) and automation of manual activities. Although still a source of collective fantasies, AI is not a magic solution and is rarely suited to respond alone to a process automation project. In view of the variety of IPA automation solutions available, it is therefore necessary to take the time to think about the choice of the most suitable tool and to ask the question: what can solve a specific problem, with the least investment and yield the most profit?
If technology is a tool for humans and companies, the enhancement of human intelligence remains essential. Indeed, any automation project must start with the collection of data from employees, service providers and partners. This is one of the most effective means of documenting history and thus knowing the expectations of the professions and promoting their ideas.
Most managers and leaders know how a process should work, but in reality, most front-line workers make their own improvements to processes, with or without company approval. Browser extensions, downloads and uses of free software, routine calls with another service: all these workarounds must be documented – process mining to discover the reality of existing processes.
Reduce the workload to relieve employees
Companies need to eliminate low-value tasks, so their employees can achieve meaningful results by focusing on high-value tasks. For this, employees are in the best position to contribute to this development. In addition to giving a feeling of cooperation to a project, they will most likely be happy to offload repetitive tasks for which their real expertise is not required. Additionally, initiating a process redesign to add intelligent automation requires knowing which tasks have high cost and low return: front-line workers and managers are best suited to identify them.
If user engagement is key to success—although gathering data up front is good practice—it’s best to leverage intelligent process automation software that allows for technical configuration and customization without necessarily have recourse to IT teams, at least in the early stages of the project. By placing the tool in the hands of non-developers (provided it is a low-code platform) configuration can be done with point-and-click and drag-and-drop build tools. Everyone (especially non-IT specialists), can have a role to play in building this project.
However, it should be kept in mind that the implementation of new projects is long and tedious, that they weigh on productivity, the return on investment and the morale of the teams. Even though they can generate excitement through the elimination of monotonous tasks, there are however obstacles to these investments that can prevent the progress of automation projects. It may be an insufficient number of team members with the advanced technical skills required, too great a complexity of the solution to be implemented, competition with other projects deployed at the same time, or even too many interfaces with different solutions used on the process in question.
Companies must prepare for all situations in order to get the IPA implementation off the ground as quickly as possible; it often starts with the people, not the technology itself. To carry out this type of project, it is possible to rely on internal collaborators, but also on the right technological partner who will be able to guide the choices and support the project.
Intelligent process automation is an increasingly powerful tool in business development strategies. And while most growing organizations are already working on digital transformation, IPA is seen as a fast track to continue these efforts. However, the tool only takes on and reveals its value with massive adoption and use by individuals; a handless tool will remain nothing more or less than an inert object.
(1) Worldwide Intelligent Process Automation Software Forecast, 2021-2025, July 2021