The vast possibilities of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

06/09/2017 10:33

RPA, or Robotic Process Automation can be a boon for companies small and large. While Automated Software Testing is the most obvious use case for IT companies, the possibilities of what can be accomplished with automation are so much more. Mail merging, document automation, scheduling, screen-scraping and macros are only a few of the possibilities out there. So where do we begin?

 

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

RPA to put it simply, “Automates patterns of how humans use computers in rules-based tasks.” By mapping out business processes, it is possible to increase speed and efficiency, improve accuracy, and maximize non-linear growth. To use an example, a company that may have 20 people working in accounting, customer-service, and sales; could be done by a similar company with only 5 people. Why is this? Easy. Automated chat bots for customer-service, document handling + accounting software, and sales process automation + CRM ; all handle the labor intensive work by using RPA. Sound too good to be true?

 

Where does one begin implementing RPA?

There are two essential things before embarking on this journey is preparation and communication.

 

Preparation

You have to know your processes in order to review potential RPA candidates. Process mapping, down to the granular level is very important. Pareto’s law generally applies to automation. You will want to automate at least 80% of your processes to get benefits, while only 20% will be performed manually.

 

Communication

Part of preparation includes talking with all of your stakeholders. Communicating with employees where RPA will have an effect, should have some input when automating processes. Just remember RPA is an operational tool, and IT departments should be aware of this. As the role of RPA and those tasked with implementing robotic process automation is a combination of IT and administration,  it is normally the IT department that are the biggest blockers. Once organisations begin to experience first-hand benefits however, this should remove all nay-sayers from moving forward.

 

What is the future of RPA?

In what direction is RPA heading? The first will be further integration of different process automation technologies. Data information is evolving from more structured to more unstructured approaches. Instead of relying on trigger based rules, RPA will move towards a more dynamic programming language. This will be helped by adding Artificial Intelligence into the mix. This use of AI with unstructured  is the current forefront of RPA development.

 

The second, will be the combination/reduction of stakeholders in companies. Assume you have an IT help desk and business analysis. With adoption of RPA, the distinction between the two could theoretically disappear. Process automation that can be seen as either IT centric or business process centric will merge into one (with both parties you may find some resistance). Process automation though makes everyone’s lives easier, helping to automate repetitive, labor-intensive, and boring tasks.

 

Conclusions

As for now RPA has matured to the point where automation is a well established process with proven benefits. Some services you can use are Zapier, Blue Prism and UiPath. A quick look at these websites will let you know what is possible. Just to name a few: accounts payable automation, claim processing automation, intelligent process automation, BPO automation, automation, back office automation, call center automation, GUI automation, screen scraping, mainframe…the list goes on.

 

However, the nature of RPA specialists is problematic. The blend of IT skills, project management, and understanding of business process means there are a lack of qualified individuals. Just remember. Get to know your business processes down to the granular level. Then when you’re ready find a suitable company/candidate to help you out.Then pick the lowest hanging fruit and enjoy compounded benefits. Best of luck!

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