What is Robotic Process Automation – RPA? The Complete Guide

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In this post, we will cover the definition of Robotic Process Automation and how it will benefit businesses.

What is Robotic Process Automation?

By definition, 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 constantly looking for new ways to increase efficiency and cut costs by digital transformation. The automation of internal systems is one of the most satisfying transformations.

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).

Employees nowadays use a multitude of business applications in their daily operations. Some are legacy systems that do not integrate with other main applications. Manually transferring data between devices is the standard.

Employees may use RPA tools to record themselves doing these manual and tedious activities through many digital systems. Later, automated bots can mimic the reported behavior by communicating with programs in the same way as an employee does, but in a more effective and reliable manner.

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.

Employees will be able to focus on more critical everyday operations by automating manual and routine processes with robotic process automation tools. This would result in significant increases in efficiency, morale, and skillset enhancement.

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 incorporation of advanced cognitive functionalities in RPA will enable bots to operate more intelligently through user interfaces.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also improve the processing of unstructured data and the handling of errors.

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 & Advantages

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Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

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 closer look at how it can benefit organizations and what the advantages of implementing it are.

Reduced Cost

The use of RPA tools to automate manual, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks would undoubtedly speed up business processes and reduce 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. As a result, this will help organizations increase their ability to react to changes and new business opportunities.

RPA tools have the ability to move companies to the next level of productivity optimization. Don’t forget that robots can work anytime and take on vacation.

Improved Compliance with Robotic Process Automation

RPA enables access to and processing of confidential data without the intervention of humans, thus lowering the risk of data breach and disclosure.

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 more efficiently and accurately, resulting in higher customer loyalty.

Robotic Process Automation With Your Existing IT Systems

RPA does not necessitate improvements to an organization’s current IT system that is in operation on a daily basis. When RPA tools bots are configured, they are programmed to operate directly from the user interfaces of the appropriate systems, simulating employee work.

This is one of the most substantial advantages that has resulted in a higher rate of RPA adoption within organizations.

Improved Scalability

When the organization’s work load suddenly increases, more RPA tools robots can be deployed easily and at a low cost. When interacting with humans, it is difficult to achieve the extreme scalability offered by RPA.

Increased Process Transparency

Manual processes are difficult to measure, but RPA tools bots include measurements, reports, and a full audit trail of the processes being performed.

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

Robotic Process Automation Disadvantages

The most significant disadvantage of RPA is that it needs someone to tell it what to do. RPA cannot make choices of its own.

For eg, it cannot determine which supplier is the most cost-effective to re-order from; the intelligence must come from a person or AI.

This is where artificial intelligence comes into play!

Robotic Process Automation & ECM

RPA and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) work well together. RPA software bots may add a variety of benefits 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 tool companies; it will be interesting to see how they will incorporate this technology into 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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