What RPA Can Do to Your Business Process
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Often organizations wonder what RPA can bring for them, what problems it can solve and how they can optimize business operations. In this article I've covered exactly how RPA can do that!
Have you ever felt like the daily tasks you do are just boring? Well, do you know you can give these tasks off to a computer software? Yes and that is called Robotic Process Automation, shortly called as RPA. Often this technology is adapted by enterprises as their business processes are of high volume which after automation can bring them huge cost saving and risk reduction.
But the real question is what is the limit of these technologies? Is it one solution for all the challenges? How do you assess a business process to validate if it can be automated? For all these queries, I’m writing this article explaining where all you can implement RPA with some use cases as well!
Screen Scraping and Automation
In most organizations, digitization of any process involves a software tool that is either installed on their computers or accessed via a web browser. With RPA you can automate these processes, where the software bot will perform all the operations that the users perform on these applications.
But what is the advantage if the same steps are done by the bot? Imagine your organization has 1000 employees performing these operations on daily basis and working on a scheduled shift of 9 AM - 5 PM, which is just a third of the day. With automation, you can utilize the full 24 hours of the time of the day to run the bots perform these operations thereby reducing your resource requirement by at least a third and achieve quicker ROI.
The most common processes under this type of automation are filling with forms, extraction of data from one or many source systems, and feeding into another system.
There are certain limitations in this automation, if the applications are randomly changing in look and feel the bot won’t be able to pick the right elements to choose and act upon. Or if the applications require captcha, OTP, or 2FA authentication for login it could be a limitation. Thus the RPA team must be very much aware of these before picking something up for automation.
This is another common automation use case where the process involves input from a document for its processing and decision making. Most commonly an organization comes across this type of processes in business units like sales, where things like invoices are in the form of documents.
With RPA bots combined with Object Character Recognition (shortly called OCR) technology, the bots are powered with intelligence to extract information from PDF documents and images. Thus the bots can extract important information from documents like Invoices and Sales Receipts.
The major challenges come when the documents are scanned or handwritten documents as the OCR is well trained for digital documents that are typed instead of scanned. The reason being distortion is higher in scanned PDFs, and in handwritten documents, the objects are not in the same format as humans write differently in each place.
User Interaction Automation
Processes are not always involved just a single participant. There are many business processes that involve multiple people/actors. Each of these actors will have its own scope of function in the process and in most cases, not all the actors are automatable.
For instance of imagining a process that involves a maker and checker, where the maker is the actor who creates a data point like invoice, reports, etc and the checker is the actor who verifies it and processes it. With help of automation, you can automate only one actor in this chain since automating both will defeat the whole purpose.
Thus when a human actor is involved, the automation should work along with the human force and there will be certain back and forth communication between the bot and the user. This interaction is also one important sector people automate and this itself can become used.
Most commonly, the support email boxes are automated in this fashion where the users raise support tickets via email and the bot handles it and responds to them. This helps organizations have a small team for support while major of their basic queries are handled by the bots themselves. Thereby improving availability to customers and also cutting down costs.
Sometimes automation is done for the most important action computers were created for – data processing. In most organizations, reporting is one of the primary things that consume a lot of time and effort and at the same time it’s completely rule-based. Employees invest hours and hours of time in collecting data from different source systems by either downloading from web/desktop apps, retrieving them from data stores. These collected data is then cleaned, transformed, and collated to generate the final report that helps businesses analyze and take decisions on specific use cases.
Often these reporting involves actors with high knowledge on the data and the process, also replicating this knowledge to new actors is a highly challenging tasks as there are several rules. Thus automation helps in easy scale up and maintaince of these reporting or data processing operations, there by reducing the operational cost and also reducing the potential risks of miscalculations or missing out of certail business rules.
Putting It All Together
Finally, each of the above processes is not always identified as a single unit, most of the real world scenarios would involve a combination of them to achieve a complete end-to-end workflow. Thus RPA automation can support you to develop a solution that can bind all of these categories into a one, giving better and faster ROI, reduction of operational risk and increase in customer satisfaction! Try it out today. →
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