What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, allows for automation of routine and repetitive tasks. By deploying software bots that perform the exact motions and tasks a human employee would carry out, enterprises are able to automate a variety of tasks and processes that traditionally have been done by employees. RPA then works as an added member of your team, but faster and without the risk of human error.
Where to implement RPA?
RPA can be applied to any standard process within your company, even across multiple systems. RPA can automate payroll processing, automate helpdesk, reset passwords, process regular bank statements, integrate data from multiple tools into one or distribute data from one tool to multiple ones, track reports and much more.
Think of the tool as a real employee that is capable of interacting with the information provided just as a human being would, only quicker and at a much lower cost while eliminating the possibility of human error.
RPA can be used to automate processes in most applications commonly used by businesses, such as:
- Opening emails and attachments
- Login to the internet and business applications
- Moving files and folders
- Copying files and folders
- Filling in forms
- Reading and filling databases
- Collecting data from the web
- Linking with application programming interface (API)
- Extracting structured data from documents
- Data collection from social media statistics
These include processes in programs like Microsoft Excel or Outlook, VMWare, CRP, ERP, accounting software and banking systems, but also work with data contained within PDF or CSS files. Processes that can be completely automated using RPA may consist of:
- Sending notifications and reminders triggered by an event
- System maintenance
- Data entry and maintenance
- Data clean up and deleting duplicates
- Gathering information from sources provided
- Connecting data from different sources
- Mass migrations of data
- Transactional operations
- Catalog updates
- File transfers
- Generating reports
- Creating registers
- Assigning assets to relevant accounts based on predefined criteria
- Supply chain management
What areas of a business typically benefit from implementing RPA?
While each company is different, across departments there are standard areas where many companies have already been able to effectively implement and use RPA.
- Inventory management
- Demand & supply planning
- Invoice & contract management
- Work order management
- Returns processing
- Freight management
- Software development
- Server & app monitoring
- Routine Maintenance & Monitoring
- Batch processing
- E-mail processing & distribution
- Password reset/unlock
- Back up & restoration
- Time & attendance management
- Onboarding & offboarding
- Benefits administration
- Recruitment (back office)
- Personnel administration
- Education & training
RPA isn’t a once-off solution. After beginning implementation, typically more and more use cases arise across different functions. Every department has an array of manual tasks that can be automated with RPA to take the burden of monotonous processes off human employees. IT, HR, sales and marketing, purchasing, inventory or accounting, and finance can all profit from process automation.
How can RPA help a business to become more cost-effective?
RPA allows human employees to spend more time on tasks of greater value. Employees are valuable; businesses want to invest in employees that spend their working hours on projects of the highest value, as opposed to repetitive activities. RPA also reduces all the issues arising from a human error to virtually zero and grants more time for employees to focus on more important tasks that involve budgeting or strategies.
Minor improvements in monotonous projects, like always pasting the correct number in the correct cell in an Excel table or in SAP can actually have a big impact on the overall functioning of your business. In accounting, it means no incorrectly paid taxes, within supply chain management, RPA helps reduce waste by avoiding inaccurately placed orders.
Where can you save money with RPA?
Consult these points to help determine how and where exactly RPA can improve your workflow.
- Analyzing which processes require the most man-hours from FTE’s
- Determine if these are low-value and monotonous
- How much could you potentially save by assigning these projects to a bot?
- How much additional time and resources would the implementation of RPA provide for your employees?
- How much revenue would RPA help generate?
What are the most common myths about RPA?
1. In order for RPA to pay off, you need an entire army of bots
One of the main advantages of RPA is its ability to automate long-tail processes, characterized by low volume or low value, which would not be economical to solve by any other means. However, there is always a minimum volume needed to achieve both the return of resources invested in deploying automation and the ongoing cost of its operation. That said, positive results can be seen even after only a few bots are deployed.
2. The bots will make you lose your job
Analysis of the companies that have started to use automation shows that most RPA initiatives are focused on increasing the efficiency and productivity of the workforce rather than eliminating it and that when people are free from routine tasks, they can focus on activities that bring greater value or satisfaction. Over time, fluctuation in these organizations has decreased, morale has improved, and internal innovation has increased.
3. RPA will significantly reduce the importance of the IT department
RPA can be used to automate processes across applications in a non-invasive way that can reduce IT dependency. However, while the need for some subsets of IT roles may fall, with others, it may increase. IT usually takes responsibility for system infrastructure, security, resilience or recovery, and management, and these features remain as important as ever. Therefore, the IT department should be involved in the deployment of RPA from the beginning. In some organizations, the IT department is actually the one who procures RPA technology by looking for cost-effective solutions to ensure better support and improvement of the experience of their internal partners.