Published on: April 11, 2020
Automation in a time of Covid19
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Every business, charity and government body is currently being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis is putting huge pressure on organizations to work differently.

Only a few weeks ago, organizations were planning for growth and adopting strategies focused on incremental growth in existing sectors, whilst expanding into others. The Coronavirus has changed all that and many organizations find themselves in uncharted territory, forced to rip up existing portfolios and playbooks and focus on the immediate and urgent. Those of you who are familiar with Eisenhower’s time management matrix will have seen tasks and issues lurch wildly from being high priority to low, whilst issues that had been kicked into the long-grass have suddenly become massively urgent.

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UiPath Automation: mitigating the threat of Coronovirus to organizations

Many organizations have had Robotic Process Automation in the ‘Someday, maybe’ pile for some time now. Some will have seen it as something too technologically advanced, whilst others may have found that other projects have taken priority. Robotic Process Automation is designed to automate processes in your organization that are high volume, require a high degree of accuracy, or a combination of the two.

This recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 502 executives from different industries to understand the state of automation within companies. The report shows that 73% of companies are ‘very’ or ‘entirely’ satisfied with the returns from automation to date. Those of you who work with a focus on the ROI of software projects will understand why that figure is so impressive.

Coronavirus has seen organizations facing multiple threats simultaneously. Supply chains are being threatened and demand has collapsed. Organizations such as supermarkets and online retailers are experiencing unprecedented demand, but are discovering that work profiles are varying wildly from traditional norms, leading to tasks building up in some teams, whilst other areas go idle. People have always been the most precious resource organizations have, but the pandemic is seeing many of those critical individuals needing to take time away from work through illness, caring for others, or self-isolation. RPA can be used to bring relief to employees as attended (bots supporting people-led activities) and unattended bots (bots running with minimal human interaction) pick up some of the strain of keeping business processes and operations running.

At HotPMO, we have seen organizations that already have RPA capability scaling up their automation capability to face some of the current challenges. Companies using UiPath, Pega, Blue Prism, and Automation Anywhere are rapidly automating more of their processes to respond rapidly to the crisis. Here are just some of the ways that RPA is being used by organizations in these difficult times:

  • Processing refunds and rescheduling for live events, conferences, and travel.
  • Handling administrative tasks relating to furlough and sickness reporting.
  • Helping small suppliers improve cashflow by accelerating payment processes and chasing late payments
  • Rapidly acknowledging customer complaints.
  • Processing claims in the insurance sector.
  • Ordering kits to enable employees to work from home.

How RPA is helping hospitals tackle Coronavirus

RPA is being used to help healthcare providers tackle the Coronavirus. In one example, a healthcare provider was using a mobile survey to complete the initial diagnosis for patients. The information from the survey needed to be entered into two core platforms, CareLink and Vivify, by a team of data entry specialists. The data were then used to predict potential diagnoses. In an ideal world, there would be APIs allowing the platforms to talk to each other, but these are not ideal times, and healthcare providers are finding themselves making systems work at volumes that had not been envisaged. In this example, the healthcare provider is working to automate the process to reduce the time it takes to predict a diagnosis, whilst freeing up data entry specialists.

Another example of RPA being used to tackle Coronavirus is the use of UiPath at The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin. The hospital found that nurses were spending hours reporting results to the IPC (Infection Prevention and Control). The process was designed over 15 years ago and requires nurses to log into one system, extract codes, open a VPN link to other systems, and manually enter data. At normal volumes, the workload is manageable. But with the high volumes of COVID-19 cases, they have seen nurses spending more time than usual on data processing when they could otherwise be treating patients. Attended bots are being rolled out to nurses to accurately login, extract information, open a VPN connection, and enter the data for the IPC. Using Attended Bots in this way is proven to increase accuracy and massively accelerate processing times.

You can read further examples of how robots are being used against COVID-19 here: https://www.uipath.com/blog/health-tracking-robots-battle-covid19

Now is the time to automate

RPA can be rolled out rapidly, with hack and swarm approaches seeing RPA used to clear backlogs and process work in a matter of days. Such rapid deployments can be used to bring relief to employees and operational teams whilst starting to put frameworks in place for building strategic RPA capabilities in the future.

HotPMO are Automation Specialists

HotPMO are automation specialists. We have deployed RPA rapidly to meet urgent business demands. Through their partner program, we are recognized by UiPath as experts in supporting and delivering RPA solutions that drive real transformational outcomes for customers.

If you want to explore the capabilities of UiPath and understand how your delivery organization could deploy RPA, contact a member of our team to arrange a personalized demo of the UiPath platform.

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