Robotic Process Automation in Financial Services – FAQ
This presentation addresses frequently asked questions about Robotic Process Automation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Robotic Process Automation in Financial Services
Copyright © 2015 Accenture All rights reserved.
1. What does Robotic Process Automation mean in the context of
back office administrative process automation?
In the domain of back office administration, Robotic Process
Automation (RPA) refers to automation where a computer drives
existing enterprise application software in the same way that a user
This means that unlike traditional application software, Robotic
Automation is a tool or platform that operates and orchestrates other
application software through the existing application’s user interface
and in this sense is not “integrated”.
2. What are the advantages of robotically orchestrating existing
applications through the user interface?
• No IT infrastructure changes are required – there is no integration
requirement – the robots interface with any application through
the user interface in the same way a user does.
• No integration costs – robots drive existing applications.
• IT robots are “trained” by their users by being “shown” how to
complete a task. This is akin to training a new employee.
• A robot once trained can scale across any number of other
• The robot knowledge is extended and re-used over time.
• A robot is trained in the live environment making projects less
expensive and much faster than traditional IT.
• Multiple robots applied to a task can be synchronised to deliver
large-scale robotic platforms.
3. Is Robotic Automation like screen scraping or macros?
No, clerical robotic automation is a generation on from old
technologies like screen scraping or macros. The major differences
• Robots are universal application orchestrators – any application that can be
used by a person can be used by a modern robot, whether mainframe,
legacy, bespoke application, web service enabled or even a closed 3rd
party API hosted service.
• Applications are “read” by the robot, either through dedicated APIs where
they exist, through the OS prior to application display, or through the screen
in the context of the native application. In this last case the modern robot
“reads” an application screen in context and in the same way a user does.
As part of the robot training it is shown how to read the application’s display
much like a user is shown.
• Robots collect procedural knowledge which over time build into a shared
library that can re-used by any other robot or device (in the same way
objects are built in traditional SW engineering).
4. How easy is it to train and manage the robots activity?
• A robot is trained through a flow chart of the procedure. This flow-
chart is managed and audited to document the procedure.
• Management information is gathered automatically as the robot
operates. All processes generate statistical profiles as a by-
product of doing the action. This allows tuning and development
of a process in light of real data.
• Modern robots systems come with failover and recovery inbuilt as
core capabilities. It means that if changes take place, or
downstream failures occur a “smart” response can be trained into
the overall system.
• Modern robots systems have full audit and security authorisation
meaning that all changes and all access is recorded and
regulated. Back-up process steps are managed, roll-back and
recovery, as well process change-highlighting, are all
automatically captured by the robot platform.
5. Does Robotic Automation compete with BPMS?
No, Robotic automation extends and complements Business Process
Management Software (BPMS) and SOA initiatives which are tackling
the automation challenge from a different, top down, IT driven angle.
Robotic Automation is aimed at small-to-mid size automation initiatives,
and where speed and size and agility are major factors, robotic
automation is often the fastest and most efficient approach.
When larger initiatives are required with a fuller “Business Process”
profile BPMS may be better suited.
6. How is Robotic Automation different from Business Process
Management Systems – BPMS?
BPMS aims at improving IT architecture to allow greater flexibility in
automation and process management capability. Often its aim is to support
agent productivity through desktop acceleration, application connectivity,
workflow management. As such BPMS is part of the core IT tool set, to which
adjustments outside of configurable parameters to a solution normally require a
traditional IT change-program. Most often connectivity between applications
and design work on how applications should be integrated against business
requirements is a key skill that is required to operate BPMS effectively.
Robotic Automation is principally aimed at clerical staff replacement as
opposed to clerical staff acceleration as with BMPS. The approach is therefore
to target routine, repetitive, rules-based tasks (procedures as sub-tasks within
a larger business processes). Such tasks can often tie clerical staff down for
long stretches of time and are small, possibly involving 5-10 people, and do not
justify large IT, or even BPMS, projects to automate. The difference for robot
automation is that no IT is required, and business users can “show” the robot
what to do. The capability is therefore distributed to operations staff so as to
divide-and-conquer many mid-to-small automation initiatives that would
otherwise require people.
7. Is Robotic Automation a platform for “rogue” IT?
No – Robotic Automation actually addresses rogue IT (i.e., disparate
initiatives across the business that may create risks to business
standards, continuity and brand quality). Robotic automation
addresses this issue on a number of levels:
• Robotic Automation is normally housed, monitored, licensed and controlled
by IT, or at the very least a centralized governance body. This group
enforce a central usage policy configured within all robots.
• Robotic processes are accretive – objects are built and are then available
for re-use across the business. This allows disparate groups to all share
and build common resources supporting much greater resource re-use
than many SW environments.
• No new data – best practice robot discourages or even forbids the creation
of new data. Systems are used by robots as they appear to users so as to
coordinate and streamline enterprise governance.
Copyright © 2015 Accenture All rights reserved.
8. What is the process for implementing robotics?
Accenture helps clients implement robotics via a series of small
steps with nimble teams.
This begins with a Proof of Concept (PoC) and ends with a rollout of
Robotics across as much of the business as our clients desire.
Robotics are relatively fast to get up and running due to the nature of
the technology. This allows for project scope to begin in a way that
builds confidence and enthusiasm for the potential of robotics and
9. How will I see robotics running in my organization?
Robots are largely invisible assistants. They may be assigned tasks
just as a person is assigned tasks and the work will show up in the
same places a human would have put the work.
For example: If your business receives applications from potential
customers and those applications need to be processed through a
series of rules based steps. The Robot can do that work and move
the applications along in the process for the next step in the line.
What the humans experience is repetitive and administrative work
being done by “somebody else”. What the business experiences is
increased speed, fewer defects and an overall better process for
10. How much does Robotic Automation cost?
A “fully loaded” office robot is approximately a 1/3rd the cost of
globally sourced resource. The flexibility and ease of deployment
means that this comparison is easy to maintain and judge the nest
approach to a given tasks.
11. How do robots deal with human judgment?
Robots – for now – only follow rules. Where a procedure requires
interpretation and skill in judging an outcome then a robot may not
be suitable. One technique that is common is to re-organize task-
steps so that any judgment is dealt with up front – the work is
prepared for robotic automation. In this way robots can handle bulk
rules and hand off to humans once judgment is needed.
12. What advantages does Robotic Automation deliver within an
administrative back office context?
• Robotic FTE’s are 1/3 of the price of off-shored FTE’s and can work 24/7
• Speed to automation – days and weeks to automate clerical procedures
• “Self Build” – no need for specialist IT, robots are trained by end-users
• Robots are trained to do repetitive clerical tasks and drive existing
applications so no costly integration and expensive process re-design
• A small specialist team from the business operations works alongside
robots to train them, manage exceptions and continually improve the robots
• Management Information is automatically captured across all procedures
13. How are process changes controlled and monitored?
The best RPA software can easily track and report changes to
processes. Our audit viewer allows users to track the details of who,
when, why and exactly how a process was changed.
In addition, detailed logs are held of every step taken during
execution, providing a robust and detailed audit trail.
14. How do identify and select the right processes for RPA?
Accenture’s process automation candidate selection methodology
provides the mechanism to identify the candidate landscape across
chosen sections of the enterprise.
A sophisticated scoring profile is applied to criteria such as case
volumes, average handling time, right first time targets, customer
service levels and timeframe for delivery of an IT solution through
the existing change list.
15. How do I get started on delivering processes?
Accenture recommends a phased approach to getting started as the
Operational Agility framework is eminently scalable. It is typical to
target the configuration of between 1 and 10 processes initially with
a rolling program of processes being introduced once the framework
16. How long does it take to establish the operational agility
The average time to establish the initial Operational Agility
framework is between 4 and 12 weeks from project initiation.
17. How long until my team are self-sufficient in developing
The initial 3 day training course provides the basic knowledge
required to begin creating automated processes. Candidates can
expect to achieve full accreditation within the timeframe of the
project for the initial Operational Agility framework creation. During
this time the trainees are delivering automated processes into the
production environment therefore generating business benefit.
18. What support do I need from Accenture?
It really depends on the skills you already have in house and the way
you wish to work.
Accenture can provide a full range of services from basic training,
support and mentoring with a view to quickly getting your team
independently delivering ongoing automations, right through to a full
turnkey package where we will take responsibility for delivering
business benefit within agreed service levels.
19. How does RPA fit with my existing enterprise architecture?
Office Robot Automation sits outside the enterprise architecture. This
gives it portability and speed. Its self-contained nature means it can
be applied anywhere. However, its independence is not a cause of
isolation; robotic automation can be used as a fast-prototyping of
automation requirements developed by end-users. Once operational
then the robot procedures offer full requirements and templates for
traditional IT change program. This has the crucial advantage that
business requirements are explicit, MI is already captured and
planning can be adjusted based on live experience.
20. What type of processes are suitable for this style of
Best projects for robot automation are bulk repetitive rules based
procedures. The flexibility of the robotic automation platform is such
that it does not matter if this involves interaction with multiple
systems. You can see example processes that have built by our
customers with our support in the Industries section of the website.
21. How long does a Robotic Automation project take?
Typical projects are measured in weeks. One heuristic is that it takes
as long to train a robot as it does a human. Complex new task will
take longer depending of the level of object re-use available.
22. Does RPA require a specialist development environment?
No, as robots are trained in the live environment the traditional
enterprise IT development environment is not required. Instead a
robot is trained in the live environment just as user would be. Before
active-commit the robot is monitored through all its procedural steps
with MI and monitoring tools to validate the procedure.
The first stage of go-live can be set on “trickle” speed to ensure that
procedures are acting according to requirements. Once output is
cleared the process can be “accelerated” to mass automation speed.
23. What hardware infrastructure do I need to run Robotic
The best RPA software is designed for flexibility and to meet the
most robust IT standards for IT operational integrity, security and
The software can be deployed either as a front office or back office
process, running quite happily on a standard desktop in the front
office or on any scale of systems for back office processing.
24. Will I need to modify my existing systems?
The key design point of the best RPA software is that they don’t
change any of your underlying systems, as this is often complex and
expensive to perform.
RPA software gathers data and integrate processes at an abstracted
level using a variety of techniques and interfaces that ensure
underlying systems are not impacted.
Lean more about Robotic Process Automation in Financial Services:
Copyright © 2015 Accenture All rights reserved.