Congratulations, you just completed a successful carve-out! Months of hard work culminated in an important milestone for your new portfolio company, but it only marks the beginning of a long journey to generating a high return on investment. A recently carved-out company may need additional improvements to operate at full efficiency. With shifting work responsibilities, open job positions, and new management in place, it will take time to solidify current operations and grow the business. There are many approaches to optimizing current processes in order to meet strategic objectives, but one of the quickest and least disruptive ways to achieve that is by deploying Robotic Process Automation.
After a successful carve-out, the IT advisors involved have the necessary understanding of your business and its technical landscape to be able to identify improvement opportunities through RPA. The initial months after a carve-out provide the optimal time window for an RPA implementation, as business processes are not yet solidified and there may be resource gaps that exist in the organization. RPA implementations are agile projects that can quickly add long-term value through process standardization and productivity improvements, while offsetting potential hiring needs. This blog will serve as an introduction to RPA and outline our approach to RPA implementation services.
RPA has rapidly evolved over the last two decades. It began as a simple form of “screen scraping”; the software would simply follow recorded mouse movements, clicks and keyboard inputs. Screen scraping use was limited, as it didn’t integrate with software or website user interface well. Nowadays, RPA is much more advanced and is quickly growing in adoption rate among businesses of all sizes. RPA software is deployed directly within a client’s IT environment and can integrate with Microsoft Office products, web browsers, and VM/Citrix environments. RPA can be used for simple tasks such as sending emails or reading Excel tables, or complex jobs like manipulating ERP or CRM data using multiple robots that trigger logic-based actions. Additionally, modern RPA software doesn’t rely on writing code, but rather using built-in drag-and-drop features. This makes RPA very accessible, as internal maintenance does not require advanced expertise.
The benefits of integrating RPA into your business are substantial. Automation has the ability to decrease staffing and training costs, while eliminating human error. According to The National Association of Software and Services Companies, RPA implementations can result in 35%-65% of cost reduction in onshore operations and 10%-30% of cost reduction in offshore operations. The return time window of the investment is usually less than one year. For example, in one of our previous RPA implementations, Fission helped the client strategically reallocate 5 employees and reduce the Order-to-Cash cycle by 45 days, resulting in ~$300,000 in annual cost savings and a 5.7x ROI multiple.
In the post-separation phase of a portfolio company, RPA’s drawbacks become its advantages. Normally, the deployment of RPA would require redistribution of the workforce and result in adjustments to internal management and HR departments. However, during an unstable period where employees have been pre-exposed to change, RPA becomes an asset that can improve productivity and make employees’ lives easier by decreasing workload. For this reason, Robotic Process Automation is an effective way to optimize a business after a large-scale transformation.
The first step in any RPA project is an RPA suitability assessment. Fission consultants begin by meeting with client sponsors to understand the goals and expectations for undertaking an RPA initiative. This helps to generate the shortlist of processes to target in evaluations. Next, interviews are conducted with the employees responsible for each process. We take the information gathered in these interviews and utilize our RPA scoring matrix to compare processes and determine suitability for automation. Not every process is a candidate for automation due to a lack of standardization. RPA cannot replace human logic and problem solving, but it excels in automating repeatable, rules-based tasks. Once the business signs off on the RPA implementation candidates, the next phase begins.
The Design phase is crucial for a successful and on-time delivery of the robot. Taking an additional week to identify all the necessary steps and possible exceptions ensures the build phase is efficient and allows for a robust error-handling process to be implemented. During this phase, Fission will create a future state process map to review with the appropriate stakeholders and will utilize this output to configure RPA workflows during the Build phase.
The Build phase is the bulk of an RPA project. Fission consultants utilize the chosen RPA software and build the initial workflow to validate that the future state process design is suitable for full-scale implementation. We then implement exceptions handling and event logging to manage errors and track metrics. The detailed design sessions previously conducted ensure that minimal client resources are needed during the Build phase. After the build is finalized, Fission holds three rounds of User Acceptance Testing to ensure that the workflow is ready for deployment.
The first step of the Deploy phase consists of acquiring the necessary software licensing for the client. An RPA workflow can either be attended (meaning that a human is needed to begin RPA execution) or unattended (the workflow is scheduled and processes on its own). Different license types are required depending on the chosen deployment strategy and Fission can assist with obtaining the proper licensing for compliance. Fission will then create training documentation and hold workshops for key client resources to explain the logic behind the workflow if maintenance is needed. Finally, when final signoff has been given, the robot is provisioned in the client’s IT environment.
Leveraging RPA after a large-scale transformation project is a great way to further optimize a portfolio company. Since carve-outs are highly disruptive and result in many unknowns, they create the ideal time window for additional improvements to be made. Potential benefits of RPA deployments include business process optimization, productivity improvements, error reduction, workflow standardization, cost cutting, efficient resource allocation, and many others. As part of our Portfolio Company Optimization services, Fission can assist clients in implementing RPA to maximize return on investment.
Fission assists buy-side and sell-side clients with TSA negotiations, IT carve-out planning and execution, and post-separation optimization. Please reach out to us with comments or questions at email@example.com.