What is Robotic Process Automation?
Unlike the dystopian future often told when robots take over, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is nothing like The Matrix or Terminator, except for the efficiency part. Keeping in mind though there aren’t really any ‘robots’ involved.
The basics of RPA
The ‘robots’ in RPA is actually software which runs on a physical or virtual machine. RPA is one form of business process automation allowing anyone to define a set of instructions for a robot (think ‘bot’) to perform. These RPA ‘bots’ are very capable of mimicking most human-to-computer interactions, carrying out large loads of error free tasks at increasingly high volume and speed.
It sounds boring by design and quite frankly, is designed that way. Ultimately RPA is about automating some of the most mundane, repetitive computer-based tasks and processes. If you’ve ever had to copy paste multiple times in a row or move files from one location to another, often at once, you can understand some of RPAs most basic tasks.
RPA takes everyday processes that once required human action and automates them. Often times, a great deal of it is performed in rote, time consuming fashion. That is basically how RPA promises to boost the efficiency of tasks for organizations.
Now that we’ve made a bit of headway, it’s time to take a step back to add some clarity to what definitions of RPA are in plain English.
Benefits of RPA
- More efficient customer service
- Ensure business operations and processes meet compliance with regulations and standards
- Allow for faster completion of processes
- Efficiency increased due to digitizing and auditing process data
- Cost savings created by automating manual and repetitive tasks
- Enabling greater productivity as employees are able to re-focus on core tasks
Defining RPA for the masses in 4 different ways
- RPA is, in layman’s terms, a process in which a software bot uses a combination of automation, a computer-vision followed by machine learning. This is done to automate repetitive high-volume tasks that are rule-based and trigger-driven.
- A robotic process automation is nothing but giving instructions to a machine to execute a mundane repetitive manual task. As long as there is a logical step to completing a task, a bot will be able to replicate it.
- RPA is simply software based on pre-defined detailed automated actions performed on a computer.
- RPA is an advanced form of business process automation (BPA). It is able to record tasks performed by a human, then perform those same tasks without further human intervention.
Checking to see if a process is a match for RPA
Doing an evaluation of your internal processes and workflows that may be perfect candidates for RPA is a separate story here altogether. Given that intro, there are some fundamental criteria worthy here since they may be able to help you and your team get a better grip on what RPA is and its benefits to your business. These criteria can help when you are discussing RPA with non-technical colleagues within the organization. One of the most common and largest categories is: Any process(s) that require employees to do high-volumes of repetitive data work. Four basic criteria can be used to check-off validity of a potential RPA task.
- The process must be rules-based
- The process must be repeated at regular intervals. OR the process must have a pre-defined trigger
- The process must have clearly defined inputs and outputs
- The task should have sufficient volume(s) to be worthy of automation
Use case examples
Unlike ‘serverless’ or ‘microservices’, explaining RPA is actually easier for non-technical people to digest. Aside from the definitions above, it can be easier to show your audience outside of IT how RPA benefits them directly by reducing the drudge work of their day to day work tasks.
Let’s consider the amount of work in an area like finance. This one department has many data-intensive tasks: data receiving, data processing, data collection, data correction, data creation, and so on. Receivables and payables alone, historically have needed tons of manual, repetitive work by skilled individuals. RPA is seen as finding major foothold in finance departments across the board. Gartner, in a recent survey, has predicted that 73 percent of corporate controllers will be implementing some form of RPA in their finance departments by 2020. This is up from only 19 percent in 2018.
One more use case example would be regarding returns processing. If you’ve ever returned anything online, you would have been exposed to all the steps and what that entails to get your “free” return….returned.
Processing has traditionally been carried out manually and has been one very costly endeavor. Using RPA, companies are able to manage returns without adding to the cost or causing delays. RPA software would handle the return, which includes a series of repetitive steps: sending a message confirming receipt of the return, updating inventory systems, making payment adjustments (to customer and company) and to ensure the internal billing system is updated to name just a few.
Customer service: RPA can offer automation of contact center tasks to include verifying eSignatures, scanned documents uploaded and verification of information that would require automatic approve/reject responses.
Accounting: General accounting, operational accounting and transactional reporting and budgeting.
Financial Services: RPA can be used here for foreign exchange payments, automated account opening and closing, managing audit requests and processing insurance claims.
Healthcare: Handling patient records, claims, customer support, account management, billing, reporting and analytics.
Human resources: Automating HR tasks; including onboarding and offboarding, updating employee information and timesheet submissions.
Supply chain management: RPA can be used here for procurement, automating order processing and payments, inventory level monitoring, and shipment tracking.
Where RPA is heading and where we can assist
Global Market Insights Inc. reports the RPA market to reach $5 billion by 2024. The ever-increasing adoption of RPA technologies by organizations, enhancing capabilities and performance while claiming major cost savings is driving this strong growth.
Our team at YDT currently have certified skilled staff on-board to provide RPA services to your business. Certified in Kryon, our engineers work with the industry standards for secure, scalable, and cost efficient process automation management and optimization tools.