RPA – Robotic Process Automation is software technology that is used to automate manual tasks in a business process that a person would otherwise perform on a computer.
The RPA software robot is able to simulate the human activity of reading from a computer screen, typing on the keyboard, moving and clicking a mouse. This ability to simulate human actions means that the underlying IT applications do not need to change.
The RPA technology in addition to directly simulating user activity can also utilise the technical API functionality of IT applications where they are available and bypass the screen interaction when required.
It is the capabilities of RPA to simulate work that makes it a generic solution to make business challenges.
By using RPA with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning), the complexity of tasks that can be automated is extended and usually referenced as Intelligent Process Automation (IPA).
RPA IS USED TO DO
RPA is suited to any task that requires repetitive activity where the information source is available digitally and the result required is digital. By performing a sequence of tasks, a whole business process can be automated. A good design practice is to keep “Humans in the loop”, so that they handle exceptions, the unusual, etc.
At an activity level, RPA is used to perform “Copy & Paste”, it is used to perform “Data Comparison”, as well as email handling and file movements.
WHERE IS RPA USED
RPA can be used in any department that is performing business processes on computers.
Examples of the tasks where RPA is used are:
- Finance – Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Reconciliation, Customer Credit Checking
- HR – Employee data reconciliation, Employee data alignment across systems, Employee Certification tracking, automating report production
- Logistics – Interaction with supplier portals, customer portals, Shipment tracking, Proof of Delivery documents
- Operations – Triage on customer service emails, reduce call centre staff typing
- IT – Password Resets, Provision of access for temporary staff, Closing accounts when staff leave, Server shutdown on cyber attacks
- Sales – Know Your Customer checks, Competitor Web site checks, assembly of information for quotes
WHY IS RPA POPULAR
There are several factors that have led to RPA being popular with pragmatic business leaders. These include:
- RPA delivers a good ROI, with benefits appearing in weeks
- RPA can be implemented without changing other IT systems
- RPA can be run alongside people / or run overnight
- RPA can reduce pressure on staff
- RPA is the practical solution to leverage AI technology
- RPA delivers accuracy which removes human errors
- RPA consistency improves compliance levels
- RPA delivers more data “Privacy” as data is not seen as much by humans (i.e. No Gossip)
- RPA takes the Robotic tasks out of the human activity
As RPA grows in popularity, competitors are using it, so usage of RPA is required to keep up in the efficiency and productivity race.
There can be many reasons that trigger a business to consider if RPA can be used but the two main one are:
- Budget pressure to do “More with Less”
- Difficulty finding and retaining staff, hence need to get the most productive use from staff that are available.
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