INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
INTERVIEW WITH MR. MANOJ NAIR,
Head of Information Technology,
Continental Automotive India
Several organizations take a POC route before making RPA decisions. What is your view about taking this route? Is this a good practice?
In my experience, before implementing any initiative at a large scale, a PoC is critical. A PoC approach helps to avoid last moment surprises while undertaking a robotic process automation initiative. A PoC can evaluate the fitness and capability of RPA tools in advance and helps the team to keep the investment and implementation time to a minimum. It will also help in avoiding expensive mistakes by selecting the wrong product and vendor and ensure the success of the overall project.
What are some of the good practices for designing and deploying an RPA? What are some of the key business benefits of an RPA?
Various best practices can be adopted for a successful deployment of RPA. In my opinion, the following are some of the key best practices which will help a successful RPA implementation in any organization,
- Start with small projects and once successfully implemented, share the benefits with the organization and expand to other core areas
- Create a roadmap for an organization with the involvement of business
- Select RPA tool based on organizations long-term business strategy
- Involve key team members in advance for the RPA tool selection
Some of the key benefits of RPA implementation that I see for an organization is,
- A significant step towards the digitalization of an organization
- Avoidance of manual errors since the process is automated
- Increased efficiency due to 24×7 RPA processes execution – no more delays
- Availability of tracking/audit reports.
What are the critical success factors to maximize returns from RPA?
In my experience with various IT projects, the following are the two key success factors to ensure maximum returns out of any IT project including RPA,
- Key stakeholders: Identify the areas for automation and key stakeholders involved. This is the first and one of the most important steps once you plan for an RPA implementation. Any implementation becomes very difficult when there is very limited involvement of key stakeholders. Also, involving IT at an early stage will provide the much-needed technology expertise.
- Right solution provider: This is another major area that needs to be handled carefully. There are many players in the market with different solutions. The organization needs to identify what exactly is the requirement and who is the right partner that can support the requirements. One of the major challenges that arise is identifying the right partner without spending too much and not compromising on the quality.
It’s advisable to spend enough time to finalize the right vendor. Also, don’t compromise on the quality to optimize costs. Consider a partner who can meet the requirements, ease of deployment, user experience, market feedback, partner ecosystem, vendor future roadmap, etc. A wrong partner can put the entire team and project into a difficult situation and can also damage the reputation of the team.
What does the future of RPA hold with respect to technologies like AI, ML, NLP, Process Analytics, etc? How will these technologies align to meet the needs of business users?
Advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is taking RPA to the next level – intelligent automation. This next level of RPA can execute entire business processes.
AI and ML have taken RPA to the next level by bringing human intelligence to manage the scenarios. A blend of RPA with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can add value to the automation and Industry 4.0 journey of organizations.
RPA with Natural Language Process (NLP) can enhance process efficiency. RPA with NLP can help to automate some core areas like the entire payment cycle. The major challenge with the current OCR is the variety of Invoice formats including handwritten invoices. In the coming times, with help of these technologies, this challenge could be solved to a great extent.
Could you share some key automation initiatives being adopted at Continental Automotive? How have these helped drive business performance?
Automation is one of our major focuses at Continental Automotive India. We have already started working in this direction in some core areas and will be expanding to more areas in the coming years. For instance, we are in the process of rolling out RPA and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for goods receipts and facial recognition systems in production to avoid errors by an unauthorized person.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in SCM operations increases the value of an automation platform by performing activities faster and allowing employees to focus on higher-value work, resulting in improved logistics performance. All of our processes are, in a sense, integrated. Wherever possible, we have employed ERP systems and integration tools.
RPA is one of the key tools for the transition from manual to automatic solutions. We are confident that a combination of RPA, AI, and ML will help us to improve the overall process efficiency and to enhance the customer experience.