Robotic Process Automation: what changes with the automation process
Robotic Process Automation is the use of software with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities. They are used to handle repetitive, high-volume tasks that previously required human execution.
These activities can include queries, calculations, and record and transaction maintenance.
But this quick explanation is too brief to understand the revolutionary power of RPA.
So read on and see examples of how Robotic Process Automation work, and what advantages companies can get from them.
Robotic Process Automation: the concept
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology application governed by business logic and structured inputs, which aims to automate business processes. We could freely translate this concept into “automation of robotic processes”.
Using RPA tools, a company can configure software or a “robot” to capture and interpret applications to process a transaction, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other digital systems.
RPA scenarios range from something as simple as generating an automatic response to an email to deploy thousands of bots, each programmed to automate jobs in an integrated enterprise management system (ERP), for example.
So it’s possible to say that RPA technology – sometimes called a software robot or bot – mimics a human worker, logging into applications, entering data, calculating and completing tasks, and logging out.
Financial market service organizations are at the forefront of the Robotic Process Automation movement, discovering ways to use software to streamline business processes without increasing employee numbers or costs.
By 2020, automation and Artificial Intelligence will reduce employee needs at shared service centers by as much as 65 percent, according to Gartner, by 2020, the RPA market will exceed $1 billion worldworld.
Robotic Process Automation: how it works in practice
A very practical way to understand the operation of Robotic Process Automation is to differentiate it from regular IT automation.
What distinguishes RPA from traditional IT automation is the ability of RPA platforms to be aware of and adapt to new circumstances, exceptions, and new situations.
Once RPA software has been “trained” to capture and interpret the actions of specific processes in existing software applications, it can manipulate data, trigger responses, initiate new actions and communicate with other systems autonomously.
RPA software is particularly useful for organizations that have many different and complicated systems that need to interact fluidly.
For example, if an electronic HR system does not have a postal code, traditional automation software would flag the form as having an exception, and an employee would handle the exception by looking for the correct ZIP code and typing it on the form. Once the form is completed, the employee would then send it to the payroll so that the information can be entered into the organization’s payroll system.
With RPA technology, however, software has the ability to adapt, learn, and self-correct can deal with the exception and interacts with the payroll system without human assistance.
Robotic Process Automation: giants that already using this strategy and application:
Walmart, Deutsche Bank, AT&T, Vanguard, Ernst & Young, Walgreens, Anthem and American Express Global Business Travel are among the many companies that already have Robotic Process Automation strategies.
Recently, Walmart deployed about 500 bots to automate a variety of things, from answering employee questions to retrieving helpful information from audit documents.
American Express Global Business Travel uses RPA to automate the process of canceling a flight ticket and issuing refunds.
Thompson also uses the RPA to facilitate automatic redial recommendations in the event of an airport shut down and to automate certain expense management tasks.
Here are some of the many possibilities of applying RPA:
- In customer service: RPA can help companies deliver better customer service by automating contact center tasks, including checking electronic signatures, uploading scanned documents, and verifying information for automatic approvals or rejections.
- In accounting: organizations can use the RPA for general accounting, operational accounting, transactional reporting, and budgeting.
- In Financial Services: Financial services companies can use RPA for foreign currency payments, automate account openings and closures, manage audit requests, and process insurance requests.
- Medical Assistance: Medical organizations can use RPA to handle patient records, complaints, customer support, account management, billing, reporting, and analytics.
- In the human resources area: RPA can automate HR tasks, including integration and exclusion, employee information update, and timesheet submission processes.
- In supply chain management: RPA can be used for procurement, automating order and payment processing, monitoring stock levels, and tracking shipments.
Robotic Process Automation: The Advantage for Businesses
RPA gives organizations the ability to reduce personnel costs and human error. A bank that implements an RPA strategy (software and methods) can redesign its complaint process by deploying bots to execute processes, handling millions of requests. Thus, it adds capacity equivalent to hundreds of full-time employees, reducing the need for new hires and training, among other expenses.
The bots are usually inexpensive and easy to deploy, not requiring customized software or deep system integration. Such characteristics are crucial, as organizations seek growth without adding significant spending or friction between workers.
Companies can also increase their automation efforts by injecting RPA with cognitive technologies, such as Machine Learning, speech recognition and natural language processing, automating high-order tasks that in the past required human judgment.
In summary, robotic process automation technology can help organizations in their digital transformation journeys in the following ways:
- allows better customer service;
- ensures that business operations and processes comply with regulations and standards;
- allows processes to be completed much more quickly;
- provides greater efficiency by digitizing and auditing processed data;
- creates cost savings for manual and repetitive tasks;
- enables employees to be less operational and more productive and innovative.
Robotic Process Automation: How Businesses Should Prepare
Here are some tips that Robotic Process Automation experts recommend to companies that want to implement this strategy in their business
Rapid gains are possible through RPA, but it is not recommended to start implementing them on a huge scale right from the off. Many RPA problems stem from poor management of expectations. Bold statements about RPA from vendors and implementation consultants do not help.
What is recommended is a cautiously optimistic mindset – especially in midsize businesses. The best option is to start with a project and learn from the process.
Think about RPA to improve the customer experience
RPA is often supported as a mechanism to increase return on investment or reduce costs. However, it is best to use it to enhance the customer experience.
For example, companies like airlines employ thousands of customer service agents, but customers are still waiting in line. A chatbot, could help ease some of that wait.
Seek expert help
The most successful implementations of RPA include a center of excellence composed of people responsible for making efficiency programs successful within the organization.
Not every venture, however, has the budget for this and often the best option is to seek help from a specialist consulting firm. Firms that can develop business cases, calculate possible cost optimization and ROI, measure progress against these goals, and other tasks.
Involve IT early and often
As miraculous as Robotic Process Automation platforms and services are, it is critical to involve the technology team from the beginning of the project. This is often overlooked by companies hiring foreign aid to run the project – and may prove to be a serious mistake.
From choosing the vendor to implementing the tools, among other processes, it is recommended that everything be closely monitored by IT.
Do not forget the impact on people
Framed by bright new solutions, some organizations are so focused on implementation that they neglect the HR loop. This can create some nightmarish scenarios for employees who find their day-to-day processes and workflows disrupted.
Therefore, as in other technology projects, it is very important to implement quality change management, which includes preparing users for the transformation.
As you have seen, Robotic Process Automation is a technological movement that is already considered phenomenal. It is a major part of the innovations that are driving the so-called “digital transformation era” and offers numerous business advantages.
Ultimately, there is no magic solution for implementing RPA, it requires an intelligent automation system that should be part of the long-term company journey. Automation at this level needs to come up with answers to complete business processes faster, with better quality and scale.
So what do you think? Is your company prepared for a Robotic Process Automation strategy?