What is Robotic Process Automation?
Small tasks can be automated in many ways. One such way, which is becoming increasingly popular, is through the use of Robotic Process Automation Software, or RPA. These software robots are programmatically configured to perform simple and repetitive tasks at a high speed compared to their human counterparts. The level of efficiency can vary depending on the task being performed and the number of tasks robots are assigned.
They can be set up to only run during scheduled time frames or continuously if workload demands. RPA software robots have their limitations, like any software does. It's a good idea to think about whether or not the benefits of using them are worth the costs.
Let's talk about RPA or robotic process automation.
The definition of Robotic process automation lies more in terms of process automation and less in actual robots. The digital realm is a rapidly changing software landscape, much like physical robots are changing manufacturing and even our daily lives. With the help of RPA, software can now do things that only humans were capable of doing before.
But what exactly is it?
What Is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic process automation software robots are systems that "perform repetitive tasks" and automate processes for us. For now, let's call them software robots. One thing to note is that some people also refer to RPA as BPA, which stands for Business Process Automation.
What do RPA software robots do?
RPA software robots are used to automate processes that you already have in place. These automated software robots can seamlessly integrate into your existing IT framework and perform a wide range of different tasks, including: reading, writing, manipulating and communicating information to people, websites, and software applications. Essentially, RPA software robots can streamline your entire business.
How are they used?
With the help of RPA software robots, you don't need to hire new people or pay them a ton of money for repetitive tasks that take up a lot of time.
Is RPA the same as AI?
RPA is oftentimes called artificial intelligence or AI, but they are not quite the same thing. While software robots can have some cognitive abilities - meaning they may be able to learn about your company - they're still in their infancy.
People may use these terms interchangeably, but for now they are not the same.
What are some of the uses for RPA?
RPA can have a wide range of applications, including: automating routine processes in finance, insurance, healthcare, government and other industries. In short, it has almost limitless potential.
An excellent example of real-world automation would be something like a vending machine. In a vending machine, a person deposits money. The money is held until it's clear that the customer chooses to take something from the machine. Only then can the machine make the change and give out the merchandise. No one is standing inside the vending machine sorting all your money and passing out snacks. Instead, it's automated meaning the machine handles the boring work.
A person can come in and look around for what they want, get what they need and be on their way without dealing with any (people) problems.
Does RPA work well with AI?
Yes, RPA works with AI. AI-enabled RPA can learn about your business and execute tasks at a breakneck speed. You can automate processes using artificial intelligence. "AI and cognitive engines" in particular work well with RPA. Many businesses use some combination for more complicated repetitive tasks such as business process management because these require more specialized skills.
Where can rpa assist well?
RPA can get the job done well in many different industries as long it is something repetitive. This means RPA works well for insurance claims, legal work, HR/staff scheduling, and other tasks requiring quick data entry. Let's start with an example.
Automate the boring stuff
Let's say we've got a disgruntled employee. We're going to call him Pete.
Now Pete has to take several documents that aren't stored digitally and convert them into digital forms that he then has to file. Pete's job is a very tedious task: he has to take all of these forms, write them out manually and finally go and file them. With his process he has to do this for every single document and he has 1000's of them.
Pete's going to be pretty unhappy about his job.
Now, because this is a very tedious, repetitive task, it's something that with rpa he could automate away.
Let's see what Pete would do if he wanted to set up an automation to do this flow, so the first thing he has to do is identify the data. Where is it coming from?
So in this particular example, the data is already in a stack of files somewhere. He might also have some coming in through email. Maybe a co-worker- Kelly is manually inputting them. So the paper files will need to be scanned and collected along with the already digital files.
Pete has all the documents digitized
Once Pete has all the documents digitized we have to extract data. So that will be the first thing that rpa can help with now, so with ocr or optical character. Recognition, along with the data, that's in the computer, pete's able to pull out data and what's what he's going to do, is actually extract that data for further processing, so that data can be things like the customer's name and the info. Let'S say in the customer form: it's the complaints that make up that information so taking that data. So the next thing pete's going to do is let's say validate it, so make sure that none of the data is corrupt and you know all the data looks good.
The final step in this process is to file the forms, which will be a lot easier than doing it manually for 10000 complaints now that they're all digital. Getting through a long list of data, clicking multiple buttons or just copying and pasting information can be tedious at the best of times. RPA is perfect for these tasks because it takes away all the monotony that comes from doing these things manually by using their own intelligence to perform simple repetitive actions.
Four RPA implementation considerations
There are four considerations for implementing an RPA project. These include: 1) the type of data your company uses, 2) the size of your company, 3) level of existing IT infrastructure, and 4) workforce readiness.
Type of data your company uses - Companies that use a lot of repetitive information or information that can be optimized with automation will have a good candidate for RPA. Information like customer records, customer interactions, purchase transactions and workflows are good candidates.
Size of company - The larger the company is the more likely they are to have enough people at their disposal that can implement a robotic automation strategy. This only works if the company is willing to have a dedicated team to work on the RPA project.
Level of existing IT infrastructure - The company must have or implement an internal infrastructure that is ready for automation and has specific coding requirements. If this is not implemented correctly, it could be very costly and time consuming for both hardware technicians and developers alike.
Workforce readiness - A major part of any robotic automation strategy is creating an employee training program. The employees need to have both the software and hardware skills necessary to implement, maintain, and support the IT infrastructure that will drive robotic processes.
Choose the best tools
You want to make sure that your rpa tool is intelligent. Now, in this particular flow, Pete used a lot of capabilities, so he used ocr optical character, recognition. So once he has the documents digitized, he's extracting data from those documents. Then also using natural language processing. He was able to pull out names, dates and more complex information such as descriptions of complaints that could not have been pulled out without using natural language processing.
In addition, he used different data manipulation techniques, so this enables Pete to do things like extract input, validate it, and finally, he even had a function to print something out and create a physical piece of paper from software-based automation.
For an RPA to be effective users creating must automation find this process to be easy. This is where low code platforms come in. Low-code platforms allow business users to create application logic and process automation without writing custom scripts or code. Low-code platforms enables you to mold your workflow by dragging and dropping widgets which gives you the ability to add functionality with ease. With RPA, low-code helps make things like user interface creation
Otherwise management might choose just have their employees do it manually and not take advantage of a powerful software tool like RPA which can free up hours in work week for more important tasks like innovation or strategic planning.
Pete's productivity is going to be boosted tenfold with this low code, RPA environment. With drag and drop components and minimal touch required for automation it will all go by like a breeze! He'll have time to do things that are more important than just paperwork too - he can get back on the phone or even grab some lunch if he wants!
The most exciting part of having multiple robots running simultaneously though? It significantly cuts down our amount of downtime because we're able to divvy up tasks amongst them which means less waiting around when someone needs help.
Often the tasks we're faced with can be completed more quickly if they were done concurrently. With that in mind, an RPA solution should have concurrency support and it's a good idea to look for one of those as well. If you want faster time-to-value then this is definitely something worth considering.
Currency, or keeping up with the latest versions that are available. So rpa in the world of rpa is changing quite rapidly and so with some intelligent capabilities enabled within it such as a new version of ocr coming out and he wanting to use it well alongside an RPA as service capability you can more quickly update yourself on what's going on. You're always caught up with any newest software updates meaning that if there were 2 different types for OCRs then maybe one would be perfect just not pulling data from customer complaint forms like before!
Finally, I think the last one that I want to mention here is how it allows you to collaborate. Imagine Pete builds an automation and publishes it - now he wants to share this with his Nashua branch of our company so they too can take advantage of automating their process by using a customer complaint form as well. In these service environments, generally speaking multi-tenancy enables collaboration amongst co-workers!
Is RoboticProcess Automation right for my company?
RPA software robots have their limitations, like any software does. It's a good idea to think about whether or not the benefits of using them are worth the costs. If your processes are simple and require little human involvement or oversight, robotic process automation may be for you!
Rpa tools are quickly growing in popularity, and so is the scope of what it's able to actually automate. But there are two drawbacks: first off, not all office jobs can be automated by these types of programs; secondly, even if they could do everything for you your job won't always have been worth anything because automation like this takes away human interaction which humans need to function properly each day!
Robotic Process Automation is a software robots that mimic the behavior of humans interacting with applications. RPA can be applied to back-office processes like data entry and application program interfaces (APIs) for connection to modern interconnect platforms. One advantage of RPA is that it allows task level virtual workers to be deployed on demand, providing flexibility in staffing levels by automating manual business processes in a wide range of industries including finance, retail and government.
Robotic process automation has its limitations because not all office jobs are able to be automated by these types of programs; however, even if they could do everything for you your job won't always have been worth anything because automation removes human interaction which people need each day!
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article please share and comment. I appreciate your feedback!