What is RPA in Automation?
The robot market is booming as data is increasingly being leveraged by firms to increase their productivity, improve the user experience and reduce costs. In fact, according to a study for 60% of the jobs in the world at least 30% of tasks could be automated.
In today’s digital world, businesses need performant technological tools to collect and process the enormous amount of data generated on a daily basis. Nowadays, process automation is a key strategic element for businesses that seek to improve their business processes, add value to their services and gain a competitive advantage.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic process automation or RPA refers to software robots that run virtually and automate repetitive digital workplace tasks such as the collection, transfer and entry of data, the transaction process, the management of files within servers and much more. It generally consists of a virtual infrastructure, a suite of software and a specific methodology.
RPA software is an innovative automation technology based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, which helps businesses and organizations optimize their time and resources. RPA automates complex rule-based tasks for websites and applications so that employees can focus on more important matters rather than routine daily tasks.
Different types of RPA
There are three main types of robotic process automation, the most adequate one for your business will depend on the processes and tasks you require the IT solution to perform:
- Probots are used to process data and information
- Knowbots are leveraged to collect and store data
- Chatbots are virtual assistants that answer queries and improve customer service
What is a software robot?
A software robot is a program designed by a set of instructions and commands, which is built to automate processes. There are different types of software robots such as chatbots and virtual assistants. They can be installed on a physical server, PC or virtual machine.
Software bots can be used for an endless number of different tasks and they are divided into two categories:
- Front office bots
These types of software robots are used to simplify business processes that involve human interaction (customer service, sales, etc.) and judgment. Front office bots are leveraged by businesses in order to streamline operations and take on certain tasks so that employees can focus on more complex and value generating tasks.
For example, companies that integrate chatbots are able to answer customer queries, resolve complaints, track orders and much more. They are available 24/7 and they constantly learn and improve thanks to artificial intelligence.
- Back office bots
Robotic process automation is also great to automate background processes. Back office bots take care of tasks such as transferring files, monitoring systems and reporting. RPA enables seamless integration of front office and back office processes. For example, data collected during a customer transaction can be automatically added to a report and shared with different departments within the organization.
How does RPA work?
RPA typically consists of a cognitive automation platform (CAP) and a united test management solution (UTMS):
- CAP is powered by different technologies (machine learning, data mining, natural language processing, etc.) and has the ability to process any format of unstructured data and convert it into structured data.
- UTMS is enabled by bots and automates labor-intensive tasks in order to boost productivity and efficiency. It also creates the robotic scripts necessary for the configuration of the RPA.
Configurations are generally rule-based and setting up an RPA can normally be done within a couple of weeks depending on the client’s needs.
15 Benefits of RPA
- Cost reduction. By implementing RPA, businesses can automate all manual or repetitive tasks. RPA tools reduce FTEs and allow employees to focus on higher value tasks.
- Increased productivity. Smart robots can work non-stop. They are programmed to work in the most efficient way and they don’t have to take breaks or vacations.
- Precision. The robotization of automated tasks allows you to eliminate the margin of human error. Robots have an unlimited attention span and they don't make mistakes. If a robot encounters a transaction that does not conform to its rules or parameters, it will send a notification to a human worker.
- Scalability. The RPA can be scaled based on your needs. If you need to increase your processing capacity, you simply have to assign a greater number of robots. This can be done easily without incurring high costs.
- Simplicity. RPA is a primarily code-free solution so you don’t need any programming skills in order to configure a bot.
- Data analysis. RPA is designed to process large amounts of data and perform key KPI analysis. Data is used to continuously improve the system and generate valuable insights in real time.
- Greater speed and efficiency. Robots work faster than humans and they are available 24/7, 365 days a year. They make your business processes more efficient.
- Adaptability and flexibility. You can customize your RPA tools based on your businesses’ specific needs and include additional functionalities.
- Versatility. RPA can be leveraged across different sectors and markets.
- Greater regulatory compliance. Automation tools monitor procedures, eliminate errors and record data.
- Better quality service. Robots eliminate human errors, improve processes and collect and analyze data, which helps businesses find areas of improvement to improve the quality of their service.
- Greater employee satisfaction. Your employees can concentrate on more valuable and creative tasks. They no longer have to spend hours doing repetitive daily tasks. This increases satisfaction and productivity.
- Time optimization. Companies can perform tasks and activities faster and RPA quickly adapts to new business processes.
- Non-invasive technology. RPA does not need extensive resources to integrate across multiple applications. It does not require replacing existing IT systems. It is easily adaptable to the IT systems of the different departments of a company.
- Improved customer service. Robots are available 24/7 and can resolve customer queries faster, which improves the quality of service and the overall customer satisfaction.
RPA Vs. Traditional Process Automation Solutions
Process automation is not a new discovery, it’s been around for a while. However, up until now, firms had generally been investing in enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications or outsourcing activities as a means to expand their operations and improve their efficiency.
In recent years, organizations have been shifting their focus from traditional IT solutions towards RPA. This is mainly due to the fact that traditional process automation tools require heavy investment, longer implementation and they don’t adapt to change.
Unlike traditional solutions, RPA helps businesses fully automate processes for a fraction of the resources (time and money) and can be implemented in just a few weeks. Furthermore, it adapts to the existing infrastructure and internal systems so companies don’t have to pay the cost of replacing those elements.
Popular automated processes for businesses
RPA is increasingly being implemented in the banking and financial sector in order to reduce the burden of repetitive tasks such accounting, data entry and invoicing. RPA helps businesses calculate taxes, process receipts and pay invoices in a timely manner. This helps companies increase their productivity, reduce their margin of error and improve overall efficiency.
RPA can be leveraged in different ways in this sector. It is used to fix technical issues, provide technical customer support, backup data, manage support tickets and conduct system maintenance.
Human resource departments have to process and manage large amounts of data and keep detailed records of every employee in the organization. RPA tools enhance the efficiency of HR staff by automatically calculating benefits, storing documents, reviewing timesheets, managing onboarding and much more.
Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of RPA is its ability to collect and analyze data. Automation tools can gather data about just about anything whether it be related to issues, costs, efficiency, productivity, etc. It’s a great way for businesses to find areas of improvement and monitor their performance. After all, data is key for strategic decision-making.
Procurement teams typically spend a great deal of their time performing administrative tasks, which is why companies are gradually incorporating RPA. In fact, businesses that are investing in RPA have been able to streamline their operations, reduce personnel costs and add value to their service. Invoice processing and requisition approvals are just some of the tasks that can be automated using automation tools.
As robotic process automation evolves, we will see more and more companies adopt RPA solutions and an increasingly large amount of tasks will be performed through automation. Companies that recognize the benefits of automation early enough will be able to streamline their processes and capture a larger share of the market.
What tasks can be automated by RPA?
Here are some examples of tasks that can be performed by automation software:
- Collect, transfer and enter data
- Create reports
- Invoice processing
- Inventory Management
- Updating data
- Manage and process sales orders
- Automate on-boarding workflows
- Calculation (taxes, profit, etc.)
- Access operating systems, web pages and social networks
- Resolve customer queries
- Accounting reconciliation
- Data migration
- Fill out forms
- Execute commands
- Read and process information from different systems, documents and files
RPA is generally used to automate business processes that are repetitive, rule-based, prone to error and involve data.
3 Myths about RPA
- You need coding skills to use RPA tools. This statement is false. As mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of the RPA software is that it’s a code-free solution. To use it you simply have to understand how it works on the front-end.
- Small businesses cannot afford RPA software. There’s a general belief that only big companies can afford RPA tools. However, many small and medium enterprises leverage RPA to automate their business processes.
- RPA is only useful for certain industries. Many people think that RPA is only beneficial for industries such as information technology, which rely heavily on software. However, all industries and sectors can gain a lot of time and resources by leveraging this technology. RPA can be used to update data, process invoices, automate bills… which are common tasks in multiple industries.
What is the importance of RPA?
The bottom line is robots are here to stay. Companies that understand this reality and leverage RPA will be able to gain a significant competitive advantage while increasing their profits and efficiency. Robotic process automation offers benefits for organizations and companies across all industries. Apart from the fact that RPA software is easy to implement, using RPA tools will help you optimize your workflow and scalability. You will also be able to monitor your performance and improve your processes thanks to strategic decision-making driven by data.