BPO vs RPA – A robotic perspective to outsourcing
Outsourcing business processes is not a new idea. For a long time already, businesses have outsourced things such as IT services, cleaning, and security to name just a few. RPA can also be seen as outsourcing. However, instead of outsourcing the work to a person or a group of people, the work is outsourced to a piece of software running on a server.
According to Wikipedia, outsourcing helps a company become more flexible in four different ways:
- Services are offered on a fee-for-service basis. This means the company pays for exactly the amount of service they need. For example, if they need two hours of cleaning each day, they pay for two hours of cleaning service instead of employing a full time cleaner.
- The company can focus on its core competencies. When all extra functions are cut out, many resources are released from managing and handling these to do other things. These can now be spent on what is more important to the company.
- The business process is sped up. The effective use of outsourcing can speed up, for example, the throughput of a manufacturing company. Or in the case of RPA, processing a form.
- Outsourcing allows the company to retain its speed and agility. As a company grows, the amount of responsibilities it has and thus the amount of bureaucracy within it grows. By outsourcing some of these responsibilities the company can avoid this.
These points have been tried and tested for companies. Whether or not the outsourced process is completed by a human or a robot, does not matter.
When talking about RPA, it is possible to take on a much more personal viewpoint. A software robot is likely to replace some of a person’s tasks, but not all of them. So it is possible to play with the idea that a person outsources some of their work. So in a way a person is the “company” in the above scenario.
In the case of outsourcing a single person’s task to a robot the above points can be translated as follows:
- Taking the above example, you can easily calculate, how much your organisation may save when it pays for the two cleaning hours instead of hiring a full-time cleaner. Similarly, you can count your effective working hours saved with the help of automation, and thereby the financial impact to your employer.
- You can now focus on more complex and thus (or at least often) more rewarding tasks. These are your core competencies. Incidentally, your employer values you more for these skills than the skills you used for the tasks that the robot now does.
- If a robot does only a part of your job, say compiles a report that you then build an analysis or a presentation on, and you’re spending the same amount of time on the entire thing as you did before, there is something going on. Just saying. It might be that you’re making better presentations, which is excellent. But it is something to be aware of if someone comes asking.
- You don’t have to do every little thing yourself. So you can stay on top of things better. Whether it’s the general mood of your team, or the state of the industry, you can stay current, up to date, and relevant.
Managing your own career has become a big trend in the Western world, and given this viewpoint, RPA compliments that nicely. Outsourcing boring office work from your everyday routine frees you to focus on what’s truly important.
RPA takes the robot out the human.
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Article: Emma Luukka – RPA Solutions Consultant, Digital Workforce