All of that said, as the market matures I think we’ll see a blurring of the distinction between offshore, onshore and nearshore providers. In this new environment, the key differentiators are flexibility and agility and the ability to cost-effectively scale up or down in response to customer requirements. Increasingly, success is based not on the delivery model in a geographic sense, but on the ability to leverage digital labor and to optimize the partnership between human workers and robots.
CIO.com: In today’s sourcing environment, where customers are increasingly demanding automation be part of the solution, in what scenarios might a nearshore provider be better equipped to deliver a solution than an offshore competitor?
Jimenez: Specific scenarios we see among our clients include application management, DevOps, agile development and automated quality assurance. We’re also seeing clients asking us to use RPA to help them on their BPO transformation because their incumbents are reluctant to do it.
CIO.com: When it comes to implementing RPA tools internally, why wouldn’t a CIO chose to work directly with a niche provider like Blue Prism or IPSoft?
Jimenez: In some cases they do, but doing so requires taking on more of the transition and change management responsibility and having to worry about having those resources and that expertise in-house. So, in many respects, the reasons for working with a traditional provider to implement automation are the same that apply for outsourcing other functions. Another important reason is scale. RPA software providers are pursuing partnership programs with services providers to accelerate sales and delivery.
CIO.com: Can you share any best practices you’ve uncovered for implementing RPA?
Jimenez: For one thing, implementing RPA requires an understanding of the processes that clients are looking to automate. So process orientation and subject matter expertise is key.
As with any transformational project, organizational change management is essential. Automation impacts not only the services provider’s scope, but also many existing onsite positions within the client’s organizations.
We’ve also found a lean sigma [approach] to be effective. This means basically that you start by automating those processes that yield the most significant cost and business benefits.
A scrum project management model can accelerate results. One of the critical benefits of RPA is a rapid return on investment. When a team is deployed to a client site they need to get the automation tools up and running quickly to be successful. But if project management is lacking, the implementation team ends up wasting lots of time navigating the business to find the people who have the right process knowledge. That loss of time can compromise the business case.
Finally, it’s important to identify a process that allows you to start small and show results, but at the same time scale up and expand benefits across the enterprise. You don’t want to boil the ocean at the outset, but you don’t want to end up with an isolated pocket of automation.
CIO.com: As companies get more comfortable with RPA solutions, adoption will expand and solutions could become more intelligent. How will that impact the need for alignment between customer and provider?
Jimenez: That’s a great question, and I think it gets back to the point about the new breed of service provider and the ability to deliver flexibility and agility and to optimize digital labor and the human-robot interaction.
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