Varying Degrees of RPA: What’s Right for Your Business?

October 27, 2016

While large companies are saving major money though the implementation of Robotics Process Automation (RPA), it is not a solution that can be executed overnight or undertaken without much research and institutional insight.

automation-2-1Determining what processes and tasks within your organization will benefit from RPA and which are still best done by human interaction is vital to any organization receiving maximum Return on Investment (ROI) for the deployment of automated solutions.

“There are certainly instances when an organization can over-automate their processes,” said Jeff Giangiulio, Director of DISYS’ Automation Center of Excellence (ACE). “It is important to know exactly what ones hopes to gain from the RPA experience and what automation can do to advance business interests and profits.”

Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC is a global managed services and staffing firm with more than 33 offices world-wide. The DISYS Automation Center of Excellence (ACE) helps clients automate IT and business processes to reduce IT spend, lower business process cost and improve efficiency. ACE specializes in the management, design, construction and execution of Robotic Process Automations for HR, Finance, IT and Supply Chain Processes.

With recent estimates holding that nearly 80 million jobs within the US and about 15 million in the UK alone are good candidates for automation, the industry has adopted three main automation ‘types’ that address varying business needs: Fixed Automation, Programmable Automation & Flexible Automation.

“Automation is one of those technologies where one size does not fit all – in fact, one size doesn’t fit most,” Giangiulio said. ”Every business has their own unique set of needs and requirements and with that, comes necessary degrees of customization.”

Three of the most common automation types include:

Fixed or Hard Automation
Fixed Automation is easily described as an automation process that doesn’t necessarily change – its operations are programmed into a ‘fixed’ state where change and flexibility is considered to be nearly impossible (similar to a factory assembly line). It is designed for a specific task at hand that doesn’t require iterations or delineations.

Fixed Automation records and replays a specific sequence of processing operations in a preconfigured, fixed manner. These tasks are usually fairly simple, but the way they are integrated and coordinated into performing multiple operations and sequences at once make them somewhat complex. In some cases, fixed automation is triggered automatically through one central action which could be as simple as sending or receiving an email or a series of keystrokes.

“Fixed automation usually comes with a large upfront investment,” Giangiulio said. “But it is capable of astronomically high productivity rates – all of which are virtually error free, offering a pretty quick and powerful ROI.”

Programmable Automation
Programmable Automation offers the capability to change the sequence of operations within the automation code or to add new requirements as needed. Operation sequences are controlled by a set of ‘rules’ or instructions coded into the system that can be read, interpreted and enacted at the precise time necessary.

“Programmable automation is used for many general, repeatable machine tasks,” Giangiulio said. “It has the flexibility to be adaptable when business needs change or grow.”

Programmable automation is also easily upgradable when security or safety requirements need to be updated. Programmable automation is seen as being the middle ground between Fixed Automation & Flexible (Soft) Automation.

Flexible (Soft) Automation
Flexible, or Soft Automation is most easily described as Programmable Automation on steroids. It is comprised of various task combinations and task schedules that can all be performed regardless of batch size or batch volume. Flexible Automation ideally always runs in the background so there is never a lag time in process completion and it is easily updated to new feature sets, requirements and security features. Flexible automation can also be the backgrounds means by which fixed or programmable automation is triggered.

“There is no doubt that automation is changing the way every industry does business,” Giangiulio said. “We used to think of automation only being used in large factories … but now we see it being adapted to a much wider range of human tasks.”

Regardless of the implementation type chosen, careful consideration must be given to current and future needs, short and long-term goals as well as general upkeep and maintenance of the automation itself.

“Fully understanding what types of automation are out there and what each of them does is vital to your automation implementations success,” Giangiulio said. “This will ensure the right choices are made all around to implement an automation type and solution that benefits the business right now & in the future.”

The DISYS Difference:
Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC has created ACE to enable companies to realize the best value from robotics is achieved when coupled with process re-engineering. ACE is not used only to ‘fix’ broken processes — but to also re-imagine and optimize them.

ACE is part of a growing Process Automation wave where new innovations occur daily, fueling our commitment to ongoing process improvement and constant learning and refining of this cutting-edge technology solution.

Through its implementation, DISYS has helped accelerate the manual RSA token assignment and decommissioning process for a major healthcare provider, automate the movement of data from legacy systems without APIs to PeopleSoft which removed errors and reduced FTEs and developed an automation compliance system for customer accounts for a major banking institution.

DISYS is committed to accelerating productivity within your organization by not only improving an organization’s practices, but partnering with clients to make sure process improvement is constantly evolving, as the technology evolves.