For many businesses, processes are filled with the need for human intervention. This may be exhibited in waiting for an email, looking up information in corporate systems, reviewing paper-based documentation, aggregating content from multiple sources into a new medium, notifying another human that a task is complete, and many more such tasks.
Often, these activities continue unabated due to time constraints, limited resources, higher priorities, and lack of funding. But Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and intelligent process automation (IPA) — RPA combined with artificial intelligence — allow businesses to augment the role of human workers in completion of processes.
Before IPA, businesses had to rely on their IT organizations to provide automation solutions. Most times, the businesses wouldn’t seek to change the way these processes worked unless they were tied to a larger efficiency or financial objective.
In cases where processes required change, the dance with IT started to determine requirements, funding, and resourcing, which could result in anywhere from one to six months until the changes were implemented.
In the end, the business was frustrated at how long it took IT to complete the implementation, and IT was frustrated by the lack of understanding of the already limited resources to keep the technology that runs the business operating while also attempting to support one-off projects of this nature.
This friction is common in many companies and leads to businesses leveraging “shadow IT” — external technology support — or, worse, a status quo limiting continued improvement and increased business agility.
IPA allows business users and citizen developers — nonprofessional software engineers — to design automation solutions for the aforementioned tasks without requiring IT to perform the work. This offloads the requirements gathering and automation efforts to the business.
However, this does not mean IT doesn’t need to be involved. Indeed, there are many critical elements of transitioning a citizen-developed automation into production that relies on IT support. This work breakdown has shown to transform the relationship between the business and IT into a collaborative environment that fosters speed, independence, and goodwill.
You can find many great sources that describe how IPA has been transformative for business. Finance departments close the books more quickly, warehouses more easily reconcile orders against bills of lading, and human resource departments automate the entire onboarding of new employees even though multiple systems are involved in completing this task.
What is often not discussed is that behind these successes are joint teams from both the business and IT working together to lead the IPA center of excellence — ensuring governance over the bots created, making sure the automations adhere to security policy, provisioning the production environment where the bots run and, in more advanced cases, developing extensions such as APIs to existing applications to simplify the citizen developer automations.
IPA allows businesses to leverage economies of scale to improve processes and become more agile. It enables businesses to balance the workload required to design and deliver automation between the business and IT, with each organization contributing its appropriate expertise to the final result. This increases time to completion and limits the dependencies between these organizations, generating an improved relationship between IT and the business.