RPA - addressing the key challenges of today’s businesses – by processing data fast and efficiently in a trustworthy way.
Enterprises often focus on reducing costs, achieving operational excellence and ensuring regulatory compliance. They may choose measures such as optimization of business processes or take one step further and completely transform them. In the past, organizations often offshored high-volume back-office productions and IT operations to take advantage of cheap foreign labor and mitigate the costs of their own production.
What if we proposed an alternative to all those measures? Imagine a technology of software robots, which automate your office work. Robotic Process Automation, commonly known as RPA, refers to automation of rule-based, recurring processes performed by humans – in the back or front-office. RPA is more than just an alternative to traditional solutions and the aforementioned approaches because it guarantees a rapid ROI and productivity gains.
In an average-sized company, employees use more than 900 applications that are split between back-office, locally-installed apps and cloud-based ones.
Due to the fragmentation of tasks, the majority of apps represent a mere step or two within a single business process. You can clearly see, how this can become a problem. A recent study shows that, on average, 68% of employees switch between 10 different applications in a single hour, resulting in 60 minutes per day spent solely for app (and thought) switching, amounting to staggering 24 days per year. Moreover, 33% of employees claim that they lose their flow of thought because of such type of work, which ultimately leads to spending additional time for certain tasks and to inevitable mistakes. If you add the incompatibility of individual software tools, which further increases the fragmentation of software in business environments, you get a typical day at an enterprise.
RPA is an IT platform that connects to a wide variety of enterprise data, applications and processes. Its job is to mimic human interaction with applications and data on a much faster pace. It is a software robot, which automates repetitive tasks and processes based on clear rules that are present in day-to-day operations. RPA is a hot commodity that can save plenty of time and money and significantly speed up businesses. This virtual workforce is supervised by the IT department and managed by business users. They teach the robot which tasks and how to perform them in their stead.
One way to look at RPA is from the employee's point of view. Imagine an employee, who doesn’t call in sick leave and does not need holidays and can work for you 24/7. It is efficient and it eliminates the possibility for human mistakes.
So, what tasks can robots do in an organization? They can be trained to open, read, send and understand the context of emails, log into applications and read data, copy files or folders, print documents, handle reading and writing onto the database, perform a variety of calculations and queries, call API and perform any task that is rule-based or described with if-then constructs.
How to choose the right processes for this kind of automation? Well-structured processes with a clear decision-making logic are most appropriate. RPA is also used to connect multiple independent processes, where data is transferred from one application to another. Even partial automation can greatly speed up the work of employees.
In addition to its wild efficiency, a significant advantage of RPA is the non-invasive technology behind it. The software seamlessly integrates with the existing IT environment or system and coexists with other solutions. RPA works at the surface and user-interface level, all while mimicking mouse clicks and keystrokes made by a human. However, the robot doesn’t need a physical screen to do the task, because it executes the process steps in a virtual environment. Furthermore, RPA can be developed without the knowledge of coding, making business units a perfect target for RPA.
Gartner estimates that by the end of 2021, there will be 4 million bots operating in business environments around the world, primarily used for office and administrative work, sales and customer support.
Deciding whether you should invest in RPA should be easy. An investment in RPA, which usually raises the efficiency of an individual process to a whole other level, starts at a five-digit number. Best way to test RPA is to assign it tasks and business processes with three to five steps, which connect to different applications. The implementation of RPA is extremely fast, taking only a few weeks, making the return on investment (ROI) one of the shortest in industry. On average, the investment returns within three to six months.