Why your private equity portfolio needs attended automation

24 September 2020

The coronavirus pandemic makes a tough job even tougher for private equity (PE) firms. At a time like this, how do you grow profits in portfolio companies without cutting costs or letting people go?

Robotic process automation (RPA) offers a solution. Often wrongly seen as a cost-cutting measure, successful RPA improves the productivity of your people so they can contribute even more.

Here are two ways to grow your top line with RPA.

Use robot helpers to improve human efficiency

All private equity firms want to improve profits in their portfolio companies, but few want to do it by cutting costs - fewer still by cutting jobs. That puts the focus firmly on raising productivity and efficiency. 

Most complex manual processes have parts that don’t actually require human input. These parts are rules-based and repetitive, require no decision-making, and could be done by a bot.

Automate these parts and your people will have more time to do the things that make a difference. This is attended automation: people and bots working together to make the firm more efficient.

How attended automation could help a call centre adjust to home working

Picture the typical working model of a call centre: lots of telephone operators in a building, supported by a roaming supervisor. This whole model became unworkable during lockdown.

So how do you keep your staff productive and supported when you can’t have an experienced manager by their side in the office? RPA could be the perfect solution for this private equity-backed firm.

This call centre could quickly introduce a bot to sit alongside their home workers, answering their most common questions and suggesting the most appropriate answers - in real time.

Supervisors would still be available to support remotely, but would have more time to win new business. And inexperienced operators could quickly get the data they need to sell with confidence. 

Reconfigure complex processes so bots do the menial parts

Alongside the myth that RPA means cutting jobs, there’s the myth that RPA isn’t that clever. But the idea that automation works only with simple, back-office processes has been out-dated for years.

Modern RPA solutions work with the intelligent processes your portfolio businesses use, sitting alongside highly-skilled people to complete complicated tasks – even in the front office.

This makes RPA perfect for business services companies, where time-consuming admin can hamper a complex sale. RPA simply hands the task to a bot, which does it quickly and comprehensively.

How RPA can help people serve, sell, and upskill faster

Let’s imagine the PE-backed call centre from our previous example sells insurance policies to logistics firms with fleets all over the UK. Each fleet has its own risk profile and insurance needs.

To make a sale, the operator must offer the right solution from dozens of policies and hundreds of terms. Imagine that our operator is inexperienced, working from home without a supervisor nearby, and needs information from multiple systems to make the right decision.

How well could our home-worker fetch the scattered information they need, manually? The bot does it accurately in seconds, helping the operator take the ‘next best action’ - if the customer says X, you should suggest Y.

Without having to manually retrieve this information and make these decisions on every call, our operator can focus on serving and selling – two skills that would improve rapidly.

Raise productivity, improve service, grow profits

Whenever you improve productivity, capacity, and quality of service in one fell swoop, top line growth is unlikely to be far behind. Successful RPA can bring about each of these benefits. 

RPA can’t make your market grow. But it can take the routine, time-sapping tasks away from your people so they have the space they need to develop, sell, and improve the top line.

In the coming months, private equity operating teams will be trying new ways to help portfolio businesses grow profits and fix working capital issues. Attended automation could bring significant benefits. 

We can help

Our Technology and Management Consulting team has been helping businesses like our hypothetical call centre to implement RPA for years, and has partnerships with the leading RPA software providers.

Contact Darren Mee, our Head of Automation, or Charlie Jolly, Head of Private Equity, to find out how we can assess the potential for RPA to play a key role in your portfolio growth strategy.

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