What Is Robotic Process Automation?

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What Does RPA mean?

(R)  Robotic 

The “robotic” in RPA is describing the automated component of the robots. RPA is not a physical or mechanical robot but process automation. You can set up RPA to do work like setting up computer systems and applications to run.

(P) Process

“Process” means work that you need to get done.

(A) Automation

“Automation” is making work happen on its own without manual input or human cognition to oversee it.

As part of digital transformation, emerging technologies continue to change business operations. Digital transformation is a lengthy process, one that takes years as businesses adjust to the introduction of technology into systems and processes.

One of such technologies is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The easiest analogy for RPA is to imagine humans in an office environment doing manual data entry and accounts receivable. Now, imagine these humans being replaced by robotic bots with a remote control in their hands. Think of the bots are a digital workforce that interacts with a system or application.

RPA Improves The Following Tasks

 Bots alleviate a lot of manual and redundant tasks for humans such as:

– copy-paste

– scape web data

– make calculations

– open and move files, parse emails

– log into programs

– extract unstructured data

Industry Overview

Businesses that are committed to successful digital transformations are investing in RPA and it is paying off. The adoption can be attributed to Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming more accessible across industries. In fact, the 2020 COVID pandemic has seen more adoptation of RPA in the healthcare industry. As of 2021, Gartner research estimated global RPA software revenue to be at $1.89 billion. This shows a significant 19.5% increase since 2020.

RPA and COVID 19

The growth of RPA adoption reflects the influence of COVID 19 on the global economy. As businesses faced cost reductions and shrinking budgets, an investment in RPA can prove to be cost effective and innovative. Enterprises that want to digitally optimize operations would benefit from the improvements in process quality, speed, and productivity offered by RPA.

Adoption Of RPA

Further research showed the trending of RPA across industries. It showed 22% of participants already piloted or fully implemented RPA. 74% of respondents indicated a willingness to explore RPA in the coming years.

Just like digital transformation became more of a requirement than a option for businesses wanting to thrive in the digital age, so will RPA.

RPA seamlessly integrates into an organization without a need to change business systems, applications, or existing processes to make it work. In contrast, some businesses use macros for automation and macros cannot be fully integrated into other applications outside of Microsoft Office suite. This further increases differences between the use of RPA v. macros.

How Does Robotic Process Automation Work

If RPA is to become part of the digital revolution of work, how does the process work?

The effectiveness of RPA is evident in its simplicity and ease of use. RPA bots are easy to set up, use, and share. Advanced technical knowledge is not needed to set up RPA

Businesses Use RPA To Automate Work That Is:

– repetitive

– manual

– drudge work

– zero creative input

– zero human intelligence

An RPA bot executes it better and faster with zero mistakes and zero breaks.

The way RPA works is by accessing information from a business’ existing IT systems. It can integrate with your applications through the front end or the back end.

– Backend: RPA connects to databases and enterprise web services

– Frontend: It makes desktop connections

How RPA connects to the business depends on the needs of the solution. For complete process automation, backend connectivity works well. Front end connectivity can connect with desktop application such as Salesforce and PeopleSoft and read and write data. The frontend connection provides more of a human operator element for functionality.

Fundamentally, RPA recognizes elements on the screen by:

– property

– structure

– hierarchy

In comparison, humans look at the screen and recognize elements on the desktop based on visuals and organization. As a result, RPA is maximally efficient in completing tasks where humans make errors.

Robotic Process Automation Benefits

Effectively implemented RPA can:

– Automate business processes

– Provide greater accuracy

– Organize and process unstructured data

– Eliminate errors

– Ensure compliance

– Improve customer experience

– Improve employee productivity and morale

– Ensure fast ROI

– Provide Scalability

After a business has adopted RPA, it can benefit immediately by seamlessly integrating technology, processes, and people.

Segments Affected By RPA

Everyone in the business is affected:

– users

– customers

– employees

– marketing

– legal

– HR

– finance

– accounting

Best Practices For RPA Process

For the business to experience full benefits of RPA, there are some best practices for the RPA process:

– Process must be based on rules

– Process must have regular intervals

– Process must have definite inputs and outputs

– Task must have enough volume

When properly implemented, RPA can transform an industry in the short and long term.

Industries That Use Robotic Process Automation 

RPA In Finance

Many industries can benefit from an effective RPA process. Highly regulated industries like finance have a lot of repetitive tasks that can use automation as a cornerstone. For example, historically receivables and payables have needed a lot of manual labor by skilled workers. Automation enables those skilled workers to do more meaningful, strategic work and spend more time with clients.

In fact, a poll asked corporate controllers about RPA finance practices. It has found that 73% of controllers plan to implement RPA in their finance departments by 2020. This figure shows an increase from 54% in 2018.

RPA In Banks

The real efficiency with RPA for financial services comes in changing the nature of works within banks. Banks become more efficient at allocating scarce resources that involve large amounts of paperwork. This has twofold implications: cost reductions and impactful gains in customer experience. Banks being more freed up to focus on customer experience will improve service quality, drive customer acquisition, and increase revenues.

The research supports these productivity gains. It has been found that RPA technologies can “fully automate” 42% and “mostly automate” 19% of finance activities. From opening accounts to fraud inquiries, customer service teams at banks are empowered with RPA to focus on more important tasks that require human intelligence and nuance.

RPA In HR

HR is another industry that can be more productive with the integration of RPA. HR employees can be liberated from repetitive operational tasks such as:

– onboarding of new hires

– processing payroll

– handling benefits

– compliance reports

– employee record management

– time and attendance management

RPA benefits HR operations by automating micro-tasks which integrate processes that legacy systems failed to connect. For example, payroll management is a big time sink for HR operations.

RPA Benefits In HR:

– Accuracy and Increased productivity- RPA technology reduces the margin of errors in HR. With RPA, the HR department can rely on accurate payroll management to free up personnel to work on more strategic, personalized employee tasks.

– Consistency- By investing in RPA, HR departments are guaranteed that microtasks are completed in a consistent pattern. By relying on RPA bots, HR eliminates output variations and maximizes efficiency.

– Scalability – RPA technologies have considerably low cost per task or effort per task than using human labor. The overall HR operation becomes more agile and lean with automation. This enables businesses to scale and sustain long-term growth.

– Reliability- RPA bots work 24/7 with consistent performance, an output that is much more reliable than human performance. The minimal error margin and constant productivity makes managing payroll easier.

RPA In Healthcare

Healthcare is a booming industry in the US especially robust since the emergence of the COVID- 19 pandemic. COVID has only accelerated digital transformation, and automation is the cornerstone of that trend.

In healthcare, providers have a large amount of paperwork and tasks in patient management that take away critical time from patient visits and customer service. By setting up RPA to integrate with internal systems, repetitive grunt tasks that bog down the healthcare system are minimized.

These tasks can include:

– Managing inventory

– Repetitive data entry

– Digitizing patient files

– Scheduling appointments

– Billing patients and processing claims

RPA In A Hospital

A closer look at the function of RPA in a hospital setting can show immediate gains in several important operational areas:

– For a large hospital, RPA can eliminate silos and create more efficient workflows

– Healthcare prioritizes patient satisfaction. RPA can give patients a transparent point of contact to their medical information. Once patient files are digitized, a patient can access from a single platform:

§ Medical history

§ Billing information

§ Scheduling information

§ Reminders

This capability immensely improved:

§ Patient satisfaction

§ Appointment turnaround

§ Payment collection

Conclusion

Whether in finance, HR, or healthcare the outcome of RPA is transformational. To truly understand its impact across industries, a business must look at the big picture. When businesses connect digital islands within the enterprise, real efficiency emerges to push the business forward into the future.

RPA is an emerging practice that evolves with rapid changes in technology. The buzzword for the future of RPA is hyperautomation. A concept that delivers automation of business processes with increasing complexity and input from human knowledge.

A New Era of Work

Today’s RPA practices are just the beginning of the revolution of work. With automation, businesses are progressing in digital transformation and changing the way humans approach work. For a business to become more digital and automated is to become more accessible for human ingenuity and intelligence to thrive

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