“RPA is going to cause unemployment, and we need to prepare for it.”
Updated: Feb 16
Should construction operations transform through RPA?
Robotic process automation (RPA) technology has already gained the tremendous interest of many enterprises for its ability to impact business outcomes with a significant return on investment (RoI) within weeks. RPA can automate tasks for every construction company. First, think of a process in your company that frustrates employees because it is time-consuming or mindless.
RPA is a technology that uses software “robots” to complete historically manual tasks more accurately and without fatigue. The robots used in RPA are not walking, talking humanoids, but rather virtual bots housed on a server or on the cloud. Each bot is a software program that mimics the actions of humans in order to complete structured, logic-based tasks, such as drafting and sending invoices, consolidating documents for an expense report, or handling various administrative human resources tasks.
Bots are designed to augment a human workforce, making workers more productive by eliminating the need for humans to spend time on repetitive, low-value activities. For the construction industry, which has tight margins and an ongoing labor shortage, the ability to free up staff to work on other tasks by using this emerging technology could make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line and add agility to the organization.
How does RPA benefit an organization?
RPA software is low code, which results in a rapid time to market. The automation of business processes results in task automation for consistent results, reduction in human error, and a reduction in cost. Because teams can be freed to work on value-added tasks, it increases the total volume of workload they can process. In addition, when an exception occurs, RPA can be used to create tasks in BPM to be performed by humans.
The cost to license and build a bot is relatively low compared to the potential savings it can yield. A McKinsey study found that the return on investment of RPA varies between 30% and 200% in its first year. Eliminating that busy work can potentially improve job satisfaction and career development for those employees.
The boost in productivity also makes employees who can delegate tasks to RPA more valuable to the company. Sales professionals might spend less time drafting RFPs, for example, and more time meeting face-to-face with clients; recruiters might spend less time seeking out candidates and more time interviewing them; a project manager can focus on managing subcontractors rather than worrying about whether they have properly filled out their paperwork.
In addition to productivity, organizations can expect to see a reduction in mistakes. Bots are never tempted to cut corners in ways that might lead to quality or compliance issues. Companies that build bots according to regulatory rules can rest easy knowing the bots will not only adhere to those rules but will also leave a trail proving their compliance to potential auditors. Robots do not take breaks or sleep, so once a bot is running, it could, essentially, work on its given task 24 hours a day. Bots also offer elasticity. Managers can scale up and scale down without making drastic (and expensive) changes to the human workforce. This agility is a huge advantage to adjust between high and low demand cycles.
Why RPA should be implemented?
Here are some great use cases for RPA and why it is time to get serious about adopting this technology if you have not already.
RPA is more cost-effective than custom software
Custom software can replace existing programs, but RPA allows you to use the tools you have more effectively.
Improve staff and underperforming software
Some software will not integrate with other parties and requires data to be manually transferred between systems. RPA can quickly pull information from one system to another with no errors.
Better data integrity
Software robots do not get tired or distracted, nor do they make careless mistakes. RPA provides greater accuracy in data transfer than a human.
A company can have one software robot dedicated to a specific task on a single project, or they can have hundreds of different robots automating separate tasks across their organization. RPA has unmatched scalability when compared to hiring new employees or purchasing enterprise software.
Global spending on RPA software last year reached an estimated $840 million, according to McKinsey & Company. It is on pace to continue growing at a breakneck pace, reaching $1.3 billion this year.
Widespread adoption has really just begun, but it is scaling quickly. Those that do not adopt changing technologies may find themselves unable to compete against rivals with an augmented workforce that can complete tasks more accurately, more quickly, and at a lower cost.