Virtualization

Robotic Process Automation: What it takes to implement it

While robotic process automation (RPA) is taking the telecom industry (and many others) by storm, , organizations need to draft a reliable route to implementation to make the best of it.

As discussed in this report, RPA can be applied to processes that are highly rule-based, repetitive and voluminous which can ultimately reduce overall cost, improve data quality, boost customer servicis and drive operational efficiency.

Let’s consider an example – the order-to-activation process (or order handling as labeled in the eTOM framework) and every process within the function, such as order entry, order validation, credit check, service activation, etc. can be automated by RPA.

Here, we lay out a foolproof RPA implementation roadmap:

1. Business process evaluation

To increase overall productivity, firms should increase the potential for automation:

  • Evaluate every task within a process based on its efficiency, effectiveness and
  • Identify and categorize the steps that add no value.
  • Remove the ones which are not regulatory and/or add no value to the business, and redesign the process to increase productivity.
  • For example, for many traditional communications service providers (CSPs), the process step of verifying the order shipment might be redundant, but might still be in place because of there are no regular assessment to check whether processes are still required. Such steps could be removed from the process flow while implementing RPA.

2. Target process identification 

Usually every process comprises of transactional and decision parts. Processes with numerous transactional parts are more adaptable for automation.

Parameters such as high manual efforts, high volume, repetitive and rule-based are ideal to identify such process steps.

For example, the process step of last-mile configuration has less scope for automation than a process step such as logical provisioning.

3. Design model selection

A few process flows need to be redesigned to maximize their scope for automation.

Automation plans should be designed keeping the business structure in mind and customized as per the process needs.

For example, when a process such as bar removal (call barring/service barring) is automated, the bar removal verification process step is rendered futile and can be removed from the entire flow.

4. Development of an automation plan

Thoroughly analyze the processes to identify all parts that don’t need automating, need automating urgently, will take time/be quick to automate.

In some cases, it is advisable to pick the most time-consuming part first for automation, and move on to the remaining parts in incremental phases.

5. Choosing the RPA solution provider

The solution provided by every vendor is different.

It is best to judge solutions based on the following factors:

  • Substantial expertise in telecoms and a deep understanding of CSP requirements and operational challenges.
  • A framework in compliance with global standard, to provide process consulting, assessment and deployment through a highly-skilled workforce.
  • Tool-agnostic and should be able to bring the most appropriate RPA tool for client applications/technology and telecom-specific process stacks.

6. Pilot phase

The pilot phase is necessary to analyse the effectiveness, efficiency, and performance of the automation plan.

Improvements can be made based on the pilot results.For example, it’s wise to have a pilot phase for a high-volume and low-complexity process such as SIM swap.

7. Rollout

Create a Centre of Excellence (CoE) comprising of executives from the business unit, IT department and RPA solution provider to look after the rollout.

Apart from the automation development, it is important to build contingency plans for processes based on various risks, taking into consideration how critical the various processes are when prioritizing.

8. Post-implementation – ongoing operations and continuous improvement

This can be handled either by the CSP’s operations team itself, or outsourced to an RPA solutions provider/operations partner.

The RPA operations team should manage the processes end-to-end with 24×7 support. They should own the responsibility of running RPA and handling post-RPA manual/support work.

It is also necessary to address the needs of the new roles and responsibilities arising from the advent of RPA. The augmented CoE will have a bigger role to play here than ever before.

Authors

  • Rajeshkhanna J – Assistant General Manager, Telebots RPA, Prodapt Solutions
  • Ananth Paramasivam – Senior Manager, RPA, Prodapt Solutions
  • Sarvagya Nayak – Business Analyst, Insights, Prodapt Solutions


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