If you are confused by this term, don’t be. RPA is an excellent tool for any business to automate high volume, repetitive rules-based tasks. Like any technology, or software tool, it is only as good as the humans behind the development of the tool, implementation of the tool, and the use of the tool. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves! Let’s discuss a couple of definitions of RPA and then take a deeper dive.
RPA can be defined as using software with AI or artificial intelligence, frequently combined with machine learning or ML, to address high volume and repetitive tasks that humans would have to do if a bot or RPA was not deployed.
The RPA acronym stands for Robotic Process Automation. When we use the word robotic, we are speaking about a software instance capable of doing complex tasks by acting like a human and screen scraping or reading a computer screen, copying, and pasting information, and moving and clicking a mouse, just like a human would. When we think of process in RPA we are thinking of a sequence of steps that are part of a meaningful work function or activity that again a human would ordinarily be doing. Finally, when we speak of automation, we are speaking about processes getting done automatically and without human intervention or oversight.
RPA benefits are numerous. RPA can help insure consistent and error free work output. Industry studies find that most RPA deployments leads to work being done 20 times faster than if it was done by humans. The speed, efficiency and accuracy that comes with using RPA helps drive down business costs. This same speed efficiency and accuracy also helps improve the customer experience and can help improve business revenue as a result. Another additional benefit of RPA is worker satisfaction. Workers in organizations that deploy RPA are not only more productive, but they also get to focus on higher value work. They can prioritize work where strategic thinking and customer interaction is required and predominant.
We can think about any RPA project as having 4 main phases. First there is the planning phase where management and users develop a list of the best targets for implementing RPA projects. Frequently targeted in this phase are the most painful or repetitive processes and functions in a business. The second phase is a development phase where companies work with technology providers, or service providers, to take off the shelf RPA tools and customize them for individual company use cases. The final phase includes deployment and testing. We will make sure to take a closer look at RPA projects, and their deployment, plus RPA tools in future blog posts. There are many important topics to consider in order to have great RPA roll-outs.
Tasks that can be handled by RPA include addressing queries (like in a call center or on a web page) making calculations, executing transactions and updating or maintaining business or customer records. Every major department of today’s businesses can benefit from RPA. These departments include Finance & Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, IT and Operations. Automating accounting software applications, processing orders, processing invoices, entering customer information, onboarding new employees, billing processing and claim processing are just a few examples of repetitive tasks that are good RPA candidates.
Many people sometimes confuse RPA bots with robotics. Frequently, they think of humanoid style robots when RPA comes to mind. While software bots are very much a part of RPA, robots are not. RPA bots do not have a physical form. Instead, they are just another software tool to be leveraged by business … like spreadsheets and databases. RPA is just one more type of software tool to be used by today’s 21st century businesses. Today’s economy is an information economy. Information, data and documents are the lifeblood of today’s business. When having to process massive amounts of data or documents, there are often many redundant rules-based tasks that are good fits for RPA.
If you would ever like to discuss RPA, and see if it is a good match for your business, service providers like Valenta are a great asset. We even have a calculator on our website to help you determine if this is a conversation worth starting. Here is a link if you would like to check it out. Robotic Process Automation Calculator