RPA Benefits and Business Case

For some companies, the pain points are so strong that adopting RPA becomes a no-brainer. For instance, if it’s hard to recruit and hold on to employees to conduct the boring and tedious work required of them, then automating them may be the only option.

For others however, there might need to be clear business case for implementing the technology before starting the project. The following article explains the financial and non-financial benefits of introducing RPA, and then builds its business case.

Financial Benefits

There are three main reasons why using an RPA Bot for office work makes finanical sense:

1.    Productivity Savings

What do we mean by productivity?

Workforce productivity can be defined as the amount of goods and services that a worker produces in a given amount of time. In other words, for office workers, this means for the hours they are in work, how much of the time is actually spent performing the required tasks.

To estimate this, let us break office hours down as follows:

Total Paid Hours:

Firstly, let us consider the number of hours an employee is paid for:

52wks x 5 days a week = 260 days = 260 x 8 hrs a day = 2080 hours

Now let us consider how many of those hours are likely to be unproductive by considering the following:

Holidays:

[25 days + 9 Bank Holidays] @ 8hrs working time per day = 272 Hrs

So far, this equates to 272 divided by 2080 or 13.1% unproductive time

Sick days:

According to the ONS an estimated 141.4 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the UK in 2018, the equivalent to 4.4 days per worker.

This equates to 4.4 x 8 divided by 2080 or 1.7% unproductive time

Breaks

Legally an employee has 20mins morning/afternoon breaks per day if they work longer than 6 hours, and assuming they are not paid for an hour’s lunch break, this is equivalent to:

20/60 hrs per day x (260 days – 34 days holiday) = 75 hours

This equates to 75 divided by 2080 or 3.6% unproductive time

Lost time

Unless you measure the time lost exactly, this can become subjective. For instance, you would need to add up all the hours an employee spends going to the toilet in a year, or the total time they are distracted, or chatting to colleagues, or are called into a meeting.

Suffice to say this probably adds up to a reasonable amount of time, however, for this illustration let us just consider holidays, breaks and sick days only. Hence see Table 1 for a summary of an office worker’s Total unproductive time as a percentage.

Holidays13.1%
Sickness1.7%
Breaks3.6%
Total Unproductive Time18.4%
Table 1: Office Worker – Total Unproductive Time as a percentage

So, considering time spent on holiday, sick or during breaks, an office worker is only working for (100%-18.4%) or 81.6% of the day, or 0.817 x 8 = 6.54 hrs per day on average.

With Robots-As-A-Service (RAAS), you are only paying for the time the RPA robot works.

2.    Speed Savings

This is not the end of the story when it comes to effiency savings from RPA, when you consider the processing speed of the RPA Bot also. To be fair, it is hard to generalise on how much faster an RPA robot will process transactions than an human employee, since every process might be different, particularly in terms of the level of processing power necessary for the Bot to conduct the activity.

For instance, Bots that need some AI (‘Headwork’) to complete the task are slower than those which just plough through manual type transactions previously done by humans (‘Handwork’). That said, it is fair to say that the robot will be consistently faster than a human, just think of how fast Google responds to a search request, which in essence involves some AI.

However to give you a feel, the following Table 2 provides a good rule of thumb for the speed difference of an RPA robot.

ComplexityDescriptionRobot v Human (100%)
SimpleData in/Data out25%
Medium+ Opening apps, simple calcs33%
Complex+ Reading and Interpreting docs, AI50%
Table 2: Task Complexity​​​​​ and approximate speed increase using an RPA Robot

3.    Accuracy Savings

We all know that Humans make mistakes. It is acknowledged that the average benchmark for human data entry errors is 1 in every 100. Another way of looking at this is if a human is inputting 10 fields per transaction, that means 10% of transactions are likely to have errors and will have to re-inputted. In addition time will be lost to reverse the original transaction.

On the other hand it is fair to say, that once they are set up and running smoothly, Robots will on the whole run error free.

RPA Business Case – Combined Financial Benefits of Using a RPA ‘Bot’

Summarising the above, an RPA bot is more productive, faster, accurate and cheaper to employ than a human. To illustrate this saving, it is best to take an example.

Let us assume the RPA bot will be taking over 100% of the the work of a £23,485 per year human employee (who is being redeployed to a position in another part of the company). Let us compare the human and robot costs, side by side, in the following Business Case illustration:

Human Robot 
  Time Savings: 
  Productivity Saving ①18.4% x 40 hours = 7.36 hours
  + 
  Speed Savings ②(40-7.36) x 50% = 16.32 hours
  + 
  Accuracy Savings ③(40-7.36) x 10% = 3.26 hours
    
Working Week Working Week(40 – (7.36 + 16.32 + 3.26)) hours =
 40 hours 13.06 hours
    
Salary£23,485.00RAAS Hourly Charge£3.09 per hour
Employers NI @ 13.8% & Pension @ 3%£3,945.48Bot Runtime Costs£40.36
Total£27,430.48RAAS Service Charge£450 x 12/52 = £80.77
    
Human Weekly Cost£527.50Robot Weekly Cost£121.13
    
  Saving£406.37  per week
   77.04%
RPA Business Case illustration

Note the Speed and Accuracy savings above are only calculated on the time the employee is in work. Hence the reason why we have taken 7.36 hours or average time per week for holidays, sickness and breaks from the figures first, before calculating speed and accuracy savings. Also note that we have used a conversative figure for speed savings of 50%, while in reality, they might be much higher.

Setup Costs Payback

In our case, Autane only charge a fraction of the upfront development costs and only ask for a £1,000, which in effect shows that clients are serious about the automation. Although a reasonable amount of money, it is low compared to the actuals costs of development, and in the example above, the £1,000 will be recouped in less than 3 weeks from the RPA savings.

Other important RPA Benefits

Of course, when working out how much it will cost to automate a process, financial benefits and payback will nearly always be front of mind. There are other benefits, perhaps difficult to quantify financially, which are also important though:

Redeployment of staff to more demanding tasks

In our company, Autane, we like to think of RPA as liberating employees from the drudgery of dull and mundane activities.  Surely it is better for employees to be doing more interesting and taxing work, which is better suited to the creative and cognitive abilities of humans, and most probably, pays better.

In addition, with Brexit and tightening immigration regulations, in the future there is likely to be less workers to fill positions. Redeploying and retraining staff from tasks that can be automated into areas where it might be more difficult to recruit and more challenging, would seem like a win-win strategy for the company and its employees, particularly if the pay is better.

Job Satisfaction

Closely aligned with the benefit above is the amount of job satisfaction that might be gained by human employees doing more demanding work. Some might say a job-is-a-job, and those in employment should not complain regardless of what it is like. But boring and tedious work has negative effect on employees, and are not playing to a human’s strengths.

Automating mundane tasks provides a better quality of life for your employees, particularly where they are redeployed into more interesting and satisfying roles. There is a saying that on the Factory floor that workers doing boring tasks leave their brains with their coats when they clock in. Likewise in the office, surely its better for employees to be using their brains, enjoying the work they are doing and contributing something extra to the business as well.

Confidentiality and Compliance

In essence Robots are ‘dumb’ objects. When they read a piece of text or see a confidential piece of financial information, they do not get intrigued or tempted to tell someone about it.

Robots see data as a series of 0’s and 1’s and confidential data is not interpreted by them unless you specify the Robot to do so for good reason. In today’s GDPR environment, companies might also have to be compliant and more careful with the data it holds on its customers, and who sees it.

Reliability, and the knock-on effect of Error reduction

As we described above, error reduction will have a financial impact on the business, but also less errors will also have a positive on the perception of a company’s customers. Even if it is ‘one of those things with being a human’, it is embarrassing to make mistakes, particularly if they are new customers, and reputation can be affected. RPA removes that possibility.

Flexibility and Scalable capacity

One of the benefits of RPA is once the code has been written and the Bot developed, replicated it is very simple. With businesses that must cope with erratic or seasonal demands, this provides the ability to scale up and down their office capacity as and when required. In reality, the RPA Bots are bits of code running on a computer, and if that code is run on a Cloud server, on consumption or pay-as-you-go basis, this provides an easy way for a company to scale up its capacity, without purchasing additional IT infrastructure.