Reducing Time-to-Revenue Through Automation: Our Path to RPA-Powered Implementation
When I joined Insite360 as Sr. Director of Customer Success in January 2020, I faced a challenge. Our R&D team was making fast and substantive improvements to an already-great ecosystem of products. Our sales team was filling the pipeline quickly and efficiently, even in a challenging climate. And… our two-to-three month implementation backlog was throwing a brick wall in front of our new customers’ excitement and progress — and our revenue stream.
With more projects in our backlog than we could complete in order to keep pace with new deals, we needed a way to speed up and streamline our implementation process.
The problem stemmed from outdated technology and manual processes. Our older infrastructure required a tremendous amount of data entry to set up and configure a new client. We relied on people to do this detailed, laborious, and repetitive work, which slowed down implementation times in addition to introducing human error and limiting employee satisfaction.
Slow, people-powered processes aren’t good for business, but they are good candidates for robotic process automation (RPA). While RPA initially sounds intimidating to non-technical folks like myself, the broad strokes behind it are clean and elegant. Robots (just “bots” in the parlance) are programmed to follow identical steps as humans to enter data, replicating the process that a person would follow. Unlike other automation approaches, which often circumvent front-end processes in the back end, RPA simply mimics them. This makes RPA an excellent solution for automating repetitive processes like ours that use mature, static applications.
Robotic process automation is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots or on artificial intelligence /digital workers. It is sometimes referred to as software robotics.
Once I identified RPA as a good fit for addressing our implementation issues, I had to sell it up the ladder. To convince company leadership of RPA’s potential, I emphasized its benefits. In addition to the headliner — reducing time-to-revenue by speeding up implementation times — RPA can:
Increase customer satisfaction with faster, more effective implementation processes
Virtually eliminate human error by automating complex, manual tasks
Improve audit results by decreasing human error
Boost employee satisfaction by removing monotonous work
Open the door to process improvement opportunities with more time for people to do higher-value work
While these general benefits are compelling, I also wanted to show the specific impact that RPA could have at our organization. We partnered with a leading RPA consultant for a four-week discovery period to validate that our assumptions were correct. RPA experts sat side-by-side with our implementation team for a month to understand exactly how our processes currently worked. They ran time studies, analyzed our existing backlog, and calculated ROI: would advancing our set-up times pay off enough to be worth the investment in RPA?
At Insite360, the answer was a resounding yes. We were able to bring implementation times for some of our products down to two weeks. Most of those processes previously took 45-60 days, with implementation for one product running over 200 days — now cut to 14. The benefits to our revenue stream and customer satisfaction were written on the wall.
In addition, the technology itself is reasonably priced. A relatively large project like ours only required three bots, paid for through annual licensing fees. The specialists’ time and expertise are more costly up front, but diminishes once you’re up and running. We worked with industry consultants to do the initial development, during which they taught our team the technical skills to manage the RPA solution internally moving forward. With this “teach us to fish” approach, we foresee applying RPA beyond implementation into other manual processes, like billing, and anticipate growing returns as it is used across the organization.
We are still new to RPA at Insite360, so will have to wait to see its long-term impact. Until then, my takeaway is less about metrics and more about philosophy. My fellow non-technical professionals: don’t be intimidated by complex terms like “robotic process automation.” Do the research, talk to colleagues, see how other organizations are solving similar problems in creative ways. Sometimes big challenges have relatively simple solutions. For us, RPA addressed a major roadblock affecting customer success. What challenges can automation solve at your organization?
With over 20 years of experience in technology, Sally Rouse is currently the Senior Director of Customer Success for Insite360 focusing on Implementations, Customer Success Management, and Customer Support. Insite360, the software and analytics business unit of Gilbarco Veeder-Root, is an industry-leading software as a service (SaaS) provider for retail and commercial fuel technology solutions.