An effective approach to implementing intelligent automation

Capgemini’s ESOAR transformation methodology addresses the underlying causes of inefficiency in your business operations, before working on the actual symptoms, to create a platform for intelligent automation and artificial intelligence.

The amount of data exposed to organizations in the digital world is growing exponentially and at a rapidly increasing speed. This is no understatement.

Robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation promise much, but reaping the benefits of these technologies requires a considered approach to ensure optimal success and minimal expenditure. These technologies are best put to use after simplifying and standardizing business processes to magnify the efficiency, while leading to improved effectiveness, control, and business value.

Reimagine your processes in the light of intelligent automation

Reimaging business processes not only sets the vision for an automation journey, but also ensures organizations make the right choices that underpin effective automation. Failure to make these choices can lead to challenges in scaling up and justifying return on investment. It is, therefore, crucial that organizations identify the areas that are ripe for automation, before they actually start to develop an automation solution.

Capgemini’s approach to developing an intelligent automation solution is called ESOAR (Eliminate, Standardize, Optimize, Automate, Robotize). This unique and straightforward transformation methodology addresses the underlying causes of inefficiency in your business operations, before working on the actual symptoms – to create a platform for intelligent automation and artificial intelligence.

ESOAR is all about reimagining your processes in the light of intelligent automation, enabling you to implement straight-through processing and automated solutions while delivering the best impact and outcomes to your business users. ESOAR identifies opportunities to eliminate processes up front if necessary, and enhances your existing investments in technology, setting the agenda for a holistic approach to transformation of your business operations.

Eliminate

When implementing transformation, our teams take the opportunity to identify and eliminate all unnecessary and sub-optimal transactions/interactions. We focus on keeping customers/users on the “golden path” and refuse to design for any task, activity, or service channel that falls outside that ideal.

We make golden paths intuitive, fast, and effective, enabling all other pathways to be removed. Customers/users get the best possible experience and our clients save costs. It is likely that more than 80% of transactions already follow a golden path. By improving the experience further and stopping the root causes for exceptions we drive compliance to 100%, minimizing the risk of a competitive decline in core customer/user satisfaction.

Stopping transformation teams from planning for exceptions requires clear corporate policies to reinforce the business strategy. Our teams focus on areas that create business value with high business volumes. As a result, the transformation activity delivers early benefits to important stakeholders and gains positive momentum.

Standardize

After the elimination phase has removed all the unnecessary and sub-optimal activities, all that is left are the “golden paths” for your transactions and interactions. They must be validated by a broad representation from the business, who approve standards for customer/user experience, effectiveness (service levels), business value, and efficiency.

These standards create the parameters for the minimum viable outcome of the transformation. The implementation will not proceed unless these key measures of success have been documented, reviewed and approved. Standardization is too often associated with poor user outcomes. However, this is generally a result of setting the wrong standards, rather than a reflection on the effort to standardize.

A set of standards give clarity and focus to the transformation team. They are able to quantify what success looks like and will stop measuring the wrong things. This ensures that the solutions are better aligned to business priorities, leading to good feedback and higher adoption from users. Implementations gain support and are viewed as a success.

Optimize

The standards created in the previous phase are used as design criteria to optimize the new operating model. Capgemini uses design thinking supported by the “Five Senses of Intelligent Automation” framework to:

  • Put technology at the heart of the solution. This recognizes that machines can perform some activities significantly cheaper, quicker and more effectively than people
  • Re-focus human involvement to areas where they can best impact outcomes and add value, enabling people and machines to establish a new balance in their respective activities
  • Change the processes to support the new operating model.

We recognize that organizations have invested significantly in their existing operating model, and quick wins are realized by repurposing some of these assets.  We work with all stakeholders in the optimization phase to reduce internal competition and create better alignment of purpose. Compromises may be made initially on the implementation, but they must be steps towards the ultimate transformation objective. New investments will be used to improve, augment and/or replace these assets, as appropriate, to drive synergies and deliver the minimum viable outcomes.

Aligning all internal stakeholders around the optimized transformation builds strong ownership of the solution and the implementation plan to deliver the outcome. The individual components work better together to deliver synergies, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Automate (intelligently)

The new technology landscape is characterized by nimble, modular solutions. By adopting a “building block” architecture that supports continuous development and dynamic adjustment, resources can be added and removed quickly and affordably.  APIs are used to connect solutions that enable the transformation team to continuously update the underlying technology. This may be done by introducing new tools or enabling functionality embedded in existing tools that had not previously been utilized.

The transformation team priorities the implementation of tools that add intelligence or new functionality to the overall solution. It could be a chatbot that gives customers real-time transaction updates, or a data-mining tool to augment the expertise of an advisor with real-time insights drawn from a knowledge repository. Customers and users experience a constantly evolving richness in their interactions.

Robotize

Finally, the team deliver robots. These will not be visible to customers/users and are simply used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the now well-established solution.

The primary benefit of robots is to help free up people’s time from doing repetitive and/or mundane tasks, so that they can focus on adding real value to the new operating model.

A holistic approach to transformation of your business operations

The one question I’m asked most about automation is – which organizations have automated all of their business operations? The answer is straightforward, but important. No legacy organization has achieved 100% automation. We’re all still learning.

Following each of the ESOAR steps thoroughly and sequentially in the correct order to review your business operations is critical to maximizing the chances of success. It not only identifies opportunities to eliminate processes up front, but also gives you the best return on your existing investments in technology and ERP, redirects resources from repetitive tasks towards higher-value business activity, and drives best practice.

It is important each step and understand the trade-offs. If you’re not able to first Eliminate, Standardize, and Optimize your processes, the application of automation simply won’t deliver on the results you expect.

By re-engineering your processes in the context of intelligent automation, ESOAR sets the agenda for a holistic approach to transformation of your business operations – enabling you to implement straight-through processing and automated solutions, while delivering the enhanced outcomes to your business users.

Simple logic can deliver the best results.

Read from across our finance and accounting (F&A), human resources (HR), digital supply chain (DSC), and financial services (FS) practices that showcase how our ESOAR transformation methodology is being used in practice to transform our clients’ business. These case studies serve as an example of the results that can be achieved when you apply a robust transformation methodology to reimagine your business operations.

Carole  Murphy is responsible for developing and delivering transformational solutions for our clients. Drawing on over 20 years of experience across operations, consulting, and transformation, Carole helps large global organizations achieve their business objectives and operational excellence through BPO-led transformation and alignment of Capgemini’s Business Services and Group assets to deliver efficiency, value, and improved control in their operations. These include industry-specific transformational solutions across finance and accounting, supply chain, procurement, and analytics.