RPA, robotic process automation, is a hot topic at the moment and touted as the answer to almost everything. That may reflect confusion in terms of what RPA really is and where it should be applied. If you believe that RPA involves physical robots, then read on.
Let’s begin with a definition of what robotic process automation isn’t. It is not artificial intelligence (AI) or physical robots doing work that a person could be doing.
Introduction: Embracing the Power of Robotic Process Automation
In today's fast-paced digital landscape, businesses are constantly seeking innovative solutions to enhance operational efficiency and reduce costs. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as a game-changing technology, revolutionizing the way organisations streamline their workflows. By automating repetitive and rule-based tasks, RPA enables companies to free up human resources for more complex and value-added activities. In this article, we will delve into the world of RPA, exploring its benefits, challenges, and potential applications across industries.
In addition, stakeholders pointed out that selecting and prioritising the right automation opportunities are key for successful RPA implementation.
What is Robotic Process Automation Software
Automation software to end repetitive tasks and make digital transformation a reality.
Simply put, RPA is a bit of software that acts in a person's capacity. Think of any business process where someone might be sitting behind a PC capturing information, manual administrative tasks that are repetitive. Examples are account processing or inbound invoices being captured into an ERP system.
That is where RPA comes in.
“BOTs don't get tired, they don’t get sick and they certainly don't drink the last of the coffee.”
The benefits for organisations would be to reduce manual workload, increase the speed of capturing information and to reduce capturing errors by automating processes. BOTs don't get tired, they don’t get sick and they certainly don't drink the last of the coffee.
There are other areas though where RPA has certain benefits for customers. Think about scenarios like risk reduction. For example, if there is sensitive information being processed or captured between systems that might include personal information, then having that done automatically by a system means that there is reduced risk of exposure. Human eyes are not seeing the content.
Similarly when it comes to capturing information within stringent timeframes then this would be a good case for RPA in order to make sure that the process is as efficient as possible.
So think of different aspects where RPA could come in. It would be beneficial for any administrative, high-volume transactional processes where there are multiple iterations to be done - consistent processes that don't have a wide variation to them or many exceptions that need to be handled. In these cases, RPA is going to be very useful.
Robotic Process Automation: Simplifying Operations and Boosting Productivity
Robotic Process Automation, commonly referred to as RPA, is the use of software robots or "bots" to automate repetitive tasks within business processes. These bots mimic human actions, interacting with applications, databases, and systems just like their human counterparts. By leveraging RPA, organisations can achieve significant improvements in efficiency, accuracy, and scalability.
How Does Robotic Process Automation Work?
RPA utilises a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and cognitive automation to perform tasks. The bots are trained to understand and execute predefined rules and instructions. They can navigate through various systems, gather and process data, generate reports, and even communicate with users or other bots. RPA software is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing systems, requiring minimal changes to the underlying infrastructure.
The Benefits of Implementing Robotic Process Automation
Integrating RPA into business processes offers numerous advantages:
- Enhanced Efficiency: RPA eliminates manual errors and reduces processing time, enabling faster and more accurate execution of tasks.
- Cost Savings: By automating repetitive tasks, companies can significantly reduce labor costs, allowing employees to focus on higher-value activities.
- Scalability: RPA enables organisations to handle increased workloads without the need for additional resources, ensuring smooth scalability.
- Improved Accuracy: Bots follow predefined rules meticulously, minimizing the risk of human error and ensuring consistent quality and compliance.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: Streamlining processes with RPA leads to quicker response times, faster service delivery, and improved customer satisfaction.
Implementing Robotic Process Automation: Overcoming Challenges
While the benefits of RPA are compelling, implementing the technology comes with its own set of challenges. Organisations need to address the following factors to ensure successful RPA integration:
- Process Selection: Identifying the right processes for automation is crucial. Companies should focus on tasks that are repetitive, rule-based, and high in volume.
- Change Management: Implementing RPA requires a cultural shift within the organisation. Employees must be trained and prepared for the changes that come with automation.
- Data Security: RPA involves accessing and processing sensitive data. Organisations must establish robust security measures to protect confidential information.
- Governance and Control: Proper governance mechanisms must be in place to monitor and control RPA activities, ensuring compliance with regulations and policies.
- Continuous Improvement: RPA is an iterative process. Organisations need to regularly analyse and optimise automated processes to maximise efficiency and ROI.
There are a number of platforms out there that offer RPA services. We have chosen a particular one to work with, UIPath, but essentially the services are probably more important than the platform.
The services comprise three areas:
- RPA consulting
- Support & maintenance
Consulting is where RPA analysts and business process engineers look at what is happening within an organisation, offer opportunities to identify where you can improve that process or even revolutionise that process. Alongside that, consultants will look at how that translates into opportunities for automation of parts or all of the subject processes.
Following initial analysis, the technical development team can come in and work alongside the analyst and capture the initial process side of things into a platform and then complete an initial automation, test that automation, scale it for production and then support that in a deployment.
Make sure that once you are moving to a live scenario you're actually getting a chance to see all the real variations that perhaps the business wasn't aware of that take place. Cater for this in a pilot phase (limited use in production), stabilize the process automation that’s put in place and then hand that over to the support and maintenance team.
To summarise, RPA is not a solution for everything despite what seems to be the perception at the moment. RPA is just that piece of software that is going to act in an administrative process to enable faster, more accurate capture and potentially reduce risk in terms of business processes as well.
This is an exciting space to be in for technology fans right now. It is definitely an opportunity for customers to leverage to achieve rapid efficiency gains and meet customer expectations in terms of faster execution of their business processes.
Final point is that as with any technology investment you have to be sure you are going to drive out the ROI expected. When you consider that your BOT may be able to run 24 hours a day, never off sick, never asking for leave and doing exactly what you ask it to, it might seem an easy to achieve outcome. It will not happen that way unless you plan the journey for RPA in your organisation and have a clear backlog of process where you can fully realise the opportunity for automation: take the “machine” out of people’s daily work and have them do the hard stuff, the human stuff.
Want to talk RPA or bots? Get in touch with me via email.