What is RPA – Robotic Process Automation? The Complete Guide

In this article, we will discover what is RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and its benefits to organizations.

Robots Interaction

RPA or Robotic Process Automation is the usage of computer programs known as software robots with advanced capabilities such as artificial intelligence & machine learning to automate manual and repetitive human activities based on business rules.

Organizations are always in search for ways to improve productivity and reduce costs through digital transformation and one of the most rewarding transformation is the automation of internal processes. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of these technologies consisting of software robots to execute tasks usually humans perform by interacting with different digital systems (e.g. ERP, CRM, and other applications).

Today employees use a variety of business applications during their day to day activities. Some of these are legacy applications lacking the integration with other enterprise core applications and that will force them to manually do some tasks such as moving information between different systems. Using RPA tools (robotic process automation), employees can record themselves performing these manual & repetitive tasks across different digital systems and later software bots can repeat the recorded actions by interacting with applications in the same way that an employee does but in a more efficient and consistent procedure. RPA tools robot never gets tired, always consistent, and makes no mistakes. Common robotic process automation – RPA examples and use cases are automation of data entry, data extraction, and invoice processing.

By automating manual & repetitive tasks using RPA tools, employees will have time to concentrate on more value adding initiatives which will increase their productivity, improve their morale, and boost their skillset. In fact, PwC estimates that 45% of work activities can be automated, and this automation would save $2 trillion in global workforce costs.

One of the most common RPA usage in small and medium businesses is chatbots.

Using advanced cognitive functionalities such as artificial intelligence and machine learning in Robotic Process Automation will allow bots to work across the user interfaces more intelligently, process huge amounts of unstructured data, and handle errors more efficiently. In addition, some major RPA tools players in the market are investing in AI and ML to automatically identify which employee process should be automated by analyzing how their conduct work daily.

Robotic Process Automation – RPA Benefits

In a study by Capgemini, they concluded that organizations of all sizes started to use or intend to implement RPA within the next 3 to 5 years and these companies realized that robotic process automation is a major digital transformation step. Let’s take a detailed look at how RPA can benefit organizations

Reduced Cost

Using RPA tools to automate manual, repetitive, and time consuming tasks will surely accelerate business operations and minimize human errors. Robotic Process Automation can reduce operational costs by up to 50%.

Increased Productivity

By using software robots to execute time consuming tasks, employees can leverage the gained time to work on higher important projects and tasks that involve creativity and decision-making which will help organizations increase their ability to react to changes and new business opportunities. Robotic Process Automation has the ability to move companies to the next level of productivity optimization. Don’t forget that robots can work anytime and take no vacation.

Improved Compliance

Robotic Process Automation – RPA provides the ability to access and process sensitive data without any human involvement thus it helps minimizing the risk for data breach and exposure.

Increased Accuracy & Consistency

RPA tools bots are more consistent, make fewer mistakes ,and work significantly faster than humans. This will result in improved business operation accuracy.

No Need For Advanced Technical Skills

RPA tools are easy to use, easy to configure, and don’t required advanced technical or development skills thus even non technical employees can benefit from robotic process automation software which will allow them to automate their tasks themselves by configuring software robots.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

RPA tools bots can do the job in a better quality with high accuracy which will lead to increased customer satisfaction.

Coexist Perfectly With Your IT Systems

Robotic Process Automation doesn’t require organizations to do changes in their existing IT system being used everyday. When RPA tools bots are configured, they are set to work directly from the user interfaces of the required systems mimicking the work of employees. This is one of the most important factor resulting in higher adoption rate for RPA within organizations.

Improved Scalability

When sudden increase in work load in your organization occurs, more RPA tools robots can be deployed quickly with minimal costs. This extreme scalability provided by robotic process automation can’t be easily achieved when dealing with humans.

Increased Process Transparency

Manual processes can’t be easily measured however RPA tools bots provide metrics, reports, and a complete audit trail of the processes being executed.

Implementing RPA results in 92% improved compliance, 90% improved accuracy and 86% improved productivity

Robotic Process Automation & ECM

Robotic Process Automation and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) complement each others. RPA software bots can bring a lot of added values to an ECM solution, to name a few:

  • Automatic identification documents types based on content.
  • Extract metadata from the document content.
  • Migrations from legacy ECM systems.
  • Integration with legacy applications and databases.
  • Automatic import of content into the ECM solution specially if needed to be done in large amount.

Major ECM solution providers have already acquired RPA tools companies so it will be interesting to see how they will leverage this technology as part of their suite.

If you are new to ECM, check out my article What is ECM?

Conclusion

The global robotic process automation (RPA) market size is projected to reach USD 6.10 billion by 2027. During this pandemic, organizations are more than ever in need to automate back and front end office processes and taking into consideration RPA benefits, there is no doubt that robotic process automation will continue its high adoption rate in all organizations sizes.

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