The Robotic Process Automation Fallacy

Gaurav is a consultant in Ghaziabad, U.P., India.

With the advent of the digital workforce platform comprised of robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive capabilities and analytics, the human workforce involved in operations has a healthy fear of job loss. RPA is often perceived as a means to reduce headcount due to the full-time employment (FTE) benefit realization associated with it. But organizational leadership needs to remove this fallacy by disseminating the actual intent of RPA solutions. In reality, the key drivers of RPA adoption are improved operational effectiveness along with an enhanced employee and customer experience.

Let’s try to understand the concept of the FTE benefit associated with any RPA initiative. A full-time equivalent represents how much full-time work an employee performs. It is imperative to understand the difference between FTE and headcount:

  • Headcount is the actual number of people
  • FTE is a measure of “workforce input” or “work done” regardless of the number of employees

For example, in order to accomplish a task, three different employees work:

  1. 40 hours a week
  2. 20 hours a week
  3. 20 hours a week

The total work done comes to 80 hours (40+20+20). Considering that 40 hours a week is a typical full-time employee, this equates to two FTE units involved (80/40) in accomplishing the task. FTEs are counted at a particular point in time and …

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