RPA and BPO/ITO/KPOs
A robotic process automation guide for company leaders and account directors.
The same question has come up over and over in the last two years.
And still I get asked it every single week…
It is usually mixed into the following comments
We are a BPO/ITO/KPO…. We are afraid of what RPA will do to our business… We are being very cautious… Our account directors don’t understand RPA…. They are afraid…. They don’t get rewarded for implementing RPA…. They do get rewarded for revenues and profitability… They see RPA as a threat…
“What shall we do about RPA?”
It took me a while to formulate a response that was clear enough.
This message works.
Think about a contract that is in year 3 of a 5 year deal.
The ball is in your court.
You can choose to do nothing.
You protect your revenues over the last half of the contract and prepare for a rebid.
At the rebid you present your RPA transformation plans.
And your client turns around and asks why the hell you sat on these ideas. Why on earth did you wait until the rebid to bring these transformation ideas to us?
All the while, in the build up to the rebid, your competitors will have been talking about RPA. Without you knowing it your credibility will be being chipped away.
So when you come to the rebid and present all these wonderful ideas, your chance of winning the contract again is close to zero.
You will look like you have been protecting your FTE-based revenues, to the detriment of the client.
You will look slow.
You will look opportunistic.
Or you will look dumb – did you not realise that the world had changed dramatically during the last few years of this contract?
[Note – soon RPA will be BAU, so hardly transformation, just keeping up with the market.]
So, let’s take a look at the alternative approach.
You will realise that your fears are absolutely misplaced.
And you will learn that – if you are bold now – you are embedded in your client for the rest of this digital transformation journey.
You have to picture the timeline.
Let’s say Day 1 of Year 4 is the 1st January.
You have trained your Account Director teams to have meaningful, strategic discussions about RPA and everything beyond.
You meet with your client executives and introduce your vision for transforming the operations, along with some strong ideas about where to get started.
That is Day 1.
No client moves fast.
Realistically it is going to be 2, maybe 3 months, before they can digest what you are proposing and you can jointly create a couple of areas to run a Proof of Concept.
So Month 3, Year 4. Still no impact on your revenues.
Day 1, Month 4, Year 4. You start a Proof of Concept.
At the fastest, this is going to take 3 months.
So, Day 1, Month 7, Year 4. Still no impact on your revenues.
But you have shown your client you can innovate AND deliver.
You’ve also dealt with one of the biggest temptations by clients in outsourcing scenarios i.e. to bring the robotic work back in house and run the bots themselves.
Key message to play – “if these processes were non-core when they were done by humans, they are still non-core when done by bots”.
Encourage your clients to automate core processes, instead, even with your help, now you have demonstrated your capabilities.
So, already, we are talking about revenue growth opportunities.
During the POC you will likely have talked about future processes to be automated.
But after the POC is completed and the results shared, then it is about ramping up.
And at that stage you are even more embedded. They need your skills and your technology and – crucially – your market knowledge and strategic leadership.
In the fastest possible scenario, maybe you have automated 6-10 more processes by the start of Year 5.
Day 1, Month 1, Year 5. There is no reason why there should be any impact on your revenues – certainly nothing material.
And you will have positioned your organisation as a thought leader, an innovator, a visionary – who they come to rely on, and get excited by the journey. It is a long time since they will have had such exciting conversations involving BPO or ITO. Take advantage of it and establish your credibility.
Now, it’s Day 1, Month 4, Year 5.
Worst case some micro, non-material impact on your revenues.
Best case – you have increased your revenues because your client sees what you can deliver.
Really what you are doing is absolutely essential. You are gradually adapting your business model to the new world.
This is not the client ripping up the existing contract and moving to a transaction based deal overnight.
This is natural, comfortable, collaborative change.
There is some chance that your initial revenue streams will be impacted.
But who is to say that the processes are not more profitable, even if top line revenues are lower.
Or that you pick up way more business because of your actions.
Remember that the choice is between doing something (regardless of impact) and doing nothing and ending up with zero revenue.
Some things you need to address – compensation structures is one of them. You need to incentivise your teams for RPA implementation, away from short term profitability. That will be the glue that makes the long term relationship and profitability stick.
At long last, your conversations with client executives will be exciting and interesting. For you and them.
The big consultancies are so stretched – and really don’t have the depth of real experience – so there is a gap in the market for you to fill.
Advise your clients. Lead them. Educate them. And you will be operating at a higher level than ever before.
Clients always complain that BPO and ITO suppliers don’t innovate.
This is your huge, once in a lifetime almost, opportunity to embed yourself in your client’s journey.
And that is how you must see the world.
Threat #1 = do nothing. That means you lose the contract.
Opportunity #1 is way more exciting and you keep the contract.
BTW – we have a Account Leadership Course that we offer. It teaches your teams about RPA and Ai, why this is not a threat, how to talk with clients, and how to win business. Most importantly, it teaches you to become the strategic partner they always wanted, winning more work and longer contracts. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for private details of this training. And look at our site for all our RPA classes and courses https://www.therpaacademy.com
A Robotics Guide for Leaders and Account Directors.