Business continuity in times of crisis and RPA technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis the size and scope of which no one could have previously imagined. What is more, it is more severe than most crises before – it has led to a revolution on an unprecedented scale, bringing almost the entire business world to a standstill and creating quite a challenge for organizations. Despite staff shortages, declining turnover and successive government restrictions, they still need to provide their services at their current level. Many, unfortunately, have not had the opportunity to put their business continuity plans (BCPs) into action, and the need to have them in place has proven more important than ever.


What are business continuity plans?


Business continuity planning (BCP) is the process involved in creating a system to prevent and deal with potential threats. A well-planned BCP plan ensures that your key business processes are protected and can continue to run smoothly in the event of unforeseen events. A BCP is usually developed in advance and involves defining all the risks that could affect the business, making it an important part of an organization’s risk management strategy. These risks can include any situation that could disrupt the normal operation of the business in an unforeseen and sudden manner. The COVID-19 pandemic first confronted companies with a situation in the context of the BCP in which it was not a matter of problems with the operation of IT systems, but a lack of availability of staff to support them. This is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology comes to the rescue.


What is RPA?


RPA is a technology for automating business processes using special tools and algorithms – entrusting repetitive, routine and time-consuming tasks to programmable bots. A bot imitates human actions – it operates with data, communicates with systems and applications and makes decisions within the business logic given to it. This saves thousands of hours of “live” labor that the organization can devote to more customer-focused and value-added tasks.


What are the benefits of RPA in the context of BCP planning and implementation?


In today’s undoubtedly challenging times, digital solutions are appreciated more than ever before. The benefits associated with RPA implementation are obvious and widely known, but some are particularly relevant to the introduction and implementation of BCP plans.


RPA is a tool that replaces humans, not just assists them


For industries that have experienced sharp business fluctuations accompanied by downsizing, freeing employees from mundane and repetitive tasks means they can focus on more customer-focused, decision-making activities, bringing more value to their organization. In addition, working from home has become the norm, and the prevailing situation today has forced more self-service – customers have gained access to online tools, apps, and call centers. To maintain business continuity during the pandemic, organizations are using automation to support remote service delivery, as well as to create a flexible work environment.


Availability of key processes


The risk of an insufficient number of FTEs to manually reprocess the volume can have a significant impact on service restoration times during BCP plan operation. Skilled labor, as opposed to a software bot, may take time to understand the logic of the process or may not be available at all. A pre-programmed bot, on the other hand, does not need deployment time, does not get sick, does not enjoy the benefits of labor laws, and can work around the clock.


RPA implementation saves time


Programming a bot takes far less time than training a full-time employee and allows for an immediate increase in operational capacity. In addition, RPA is a layer that operates on top of an existing framework or application – no changes to the existing process, information flow, or integration of already running environments are necessary.


What benefits can RPA bring in the future?


The risk of further epidemic crises in the future is unfortunately still high. Implementing RPA will help strengthen BCP plans, reduce the risk of harm, and minimize the impact of events we cannot predict. History also teaches us that solutions created in difficult times work well in better ones. Once such better times return, bots will continue to handle tedious, repetitive and predictable activities, business processes will be faster, safer and more accurate, and live staff will be engaged in challenging and more rewarding activities.


Arkadiusz Jakubowski – programmer / RPA analyst at Onwelo. He has experience in the banking and accounting industry and is currently working in business process automation. Privately, he is interested in technological innovations, music and programming.

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