What is robotic process automation?

What is robotic process automation?

Is robotic process automation the start of the long-awaited robot revolution that will dominate the business world?
This is how RPA is helping streamline repetitive tasks.

With the business world moving at such a fast pace, CIOs are looking for better and smarter ways to simplify business processes and cut costs in their organizations. Robotic process automation makes it possible to unburden people from tedious and repetitive tasks, freeing them to perform high-value tasks. This is what RPA means and how to implement it.

What is robotic process automation?

Robotic process automation, or RPA, is a business process automation technology. With it, programmers can set rules that enable the software (or “robot”) to automate tasks or processes. A RPA bot can then analyze, interpret, collect, and manipulate data before triggering pre-established responses.

Businesses use RPA in a wide variety of scenarios. From an automated reply to an email to sorting through thousands of job applications in the HR department. However, robotic process automation does not involve actual robots–much to our chagrin.

Why should you invest in RPA?

Robotic process automation tools do not replace business applications, but automate menial manual tasks performed by humans. These tools can fill in, alter, and update the same boxes and fields in a user interface by getting the relevant data from a specific location, among many other tasks. Thus, RPA has several benefits for an organisation:

  • Higher accuracy: robotic process automation removes human error from the equation. This ensures 100% compliance, which is essential in many industries like finances, healthcare and life sciences.
  • Greater productivity: with RPA, “robots” perform essential but time-consuming and, frankly, monotonous tasks. They get work done faster and free human workers for tasks that require creativity and decision making.
  • Greater resilience: the extra pair of hands provided by robotic process automation can handle huge workload peaks and respond to demand spikes without a hiccup, and at a speed that no human can match.
  • Accelerated transformation: organizations can improve RPA with machine learning, speech recognition, natural language processing, and other cognitive technologies in order to automate tasks that require perceptual and judgment capabilities. This is a driver of digital transformation.

Apart from that, robotic process automation can help you deliver much better customer service and an excellent digital experience for your customers.

Which industries are using RPA?

Robotic process automation is transversal to pretty much all industries: insurance, banking, healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, life sciences, and so on. It can improve customer service, for example, with intelligent chatbots; process invoices faster and without errors, to streamline payroll; ensure data protection by handling sensitive information remotely; perform analytics and reports and so much more. Deloitte surveys suggest that RPA will achieve “near-universal adoption” in the next 5 years.

Take global financial insights provider Morningstar for instance: after decades of manually creating investment recommendations, this leading firm is now relying on RPA to get the job done.

But the true beauty of RPA is that the list of applications keeps growing, since AI and machine learning are so deeply intertwined with it. (And if you are one of the sceptical ones, check if your business really needs AI and Machine Learning.)

How to implement a robotic process automation software?

To implement robotic process automation within your organisation, you first need to identify processes that are a match. The processes and tasks to automate with RPA are:

  • Rule-based, i.e., repetitive and with few exceptions.
  • Expected to have logical outcomes.
  • Repeated at regular intervals or have defined triggers.
  • Composed of high volume of data, tasks, etc.

After identifying your candidate processes, you’ll need to design the RPA workflow for each one, followed by development (either by coding or using a low-code software), testing, and finally deploying your software. Do you know the difference between traditional and low-code development?

A little help from an RPA expert can never hurt

Robotic process automation, like all innovative technologies, has some known pitfalls you should absolutely avoid at the organizational, technical and process levels.

At an organizational level, the most common pitfalls are lack of time commitment from local team, insufficient IT support and the absence of a clear RPA strategy. Technically, it is common for companies to choose solutions that require extensive coding, to forget scalability and to not take maintenance needs into account.

Finally, at a process level, the most common pitfalls are choosing the wrong processes, because they’re not rules-based, or they don’t have significant business impact, or because they are too complex.

To stay away from these common mistakes, look for a partner to guide you in the right direction. Luckily, at Near Partner we are problem solvers and RPA experts, and we’re keen to help you with your robotic process automation journey.

If you’re looking to embark on the RPA ship and could use a compass, get in touch! Let’s brainstorm together until we find a solution for your business!

Patrícia Peixinho

Marketing & communication lover. Curious, imaginative, ingenious. Hungry for challenges and enthusiastic about life!