What is Robotic Process Automation – RPA? The Complete Guide

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

What is Robotic Process Automation?

RPA 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. One of the most rewarding transformation is the automation of internal processes. 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 them are legacy applications which lack the integration with other core applications. Moving information between different systems is done manually.

Using RPA tools, 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  RPA examples and use cases are automation of data entry, data extraction, and invoice processing.

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The automation of manual and repetitive tasks using robotic process automation software will allow employees to concentrate on more important daily activities. That will result in huge boots in productivity, improve morale, and enhance their skillset. As per PWC, 45% of work activities can be automated and this will save $2 trillion in global workforce costs.

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

The integration of advanced cognitive functionalities in RPA will enable bots to work across user interfaces more intelligently. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will also allow to process of unstructured data and handle errors more efficiently. Major RPA tools are heavily investing in AI and ML to automatically identify internal processes that could be automated. Their tools will analyze how employees are conducting their daily work and suggest improvements.

Robotic Process Automation Benefits

Humans interacting with Robots

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 it is a major digital transformation step. Let’s take a detailed look at how it 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. RPA can reduce operational costs by up to 50%.

Increased Productivity

By using robotic process automation 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. RPA tools 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 with 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 RPA tools 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.

Robotic Process Automation With Your Existing IT Systems

RPA 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 RPA 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

RPA 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.
  • Importing content to an ECM solution.

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 estimated market size will 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 it will continue its high adoption rate in all organizations sizes.

What is Robotic Process Automation?

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.

How is robotic process automation used?

Using RPA tools, 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.

Why do we need RPA?

The automation of manual and repetitive tasks using RPA tools will allow employees to concentrate on more important daily activities. That will result in huge boots in productivity, improve morale, and enhance their skillset. As per PWC, 45% of work activities can be automated and this will save $2 trillion in global workforce costs.

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