All You Need to Know About RPA & Why You Should Learn It

on April 29, 2020

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What is RPA (Robotics Process Automation)


Robotics Process Automation, or RPA, in the simplest of words, is a software that uses existing technology (like artificial intelligence and machine learning) to automate repetitive processes within a business by mimicking human action. The resulting solution is often referred to as a ‘robot,’ which ‘automates’ one or more internal business ‘processes’, hence the name Robotic Process Automation. Contrary to what many people believe, RPA is NOT a separate machine or a tangible ‘robot’ but a software that can be static or self-learning and self-improving with the power of AI and ML.

For example, consider a business that captures website leads via email. In a manual scenario, a human employee needs to check the mailbox for new emails, identify a prospective lead’s email, then copy-paste relevant information to an excel sheet. Since this is a repetitive process, it can be automated using an RPA Software. A bot can be programmed to scan the mailbox at regular intervals, identify an email from a lead (by using a fixed subject line), extract data from the email, and populate it onto an excel sheet.

Businesses today can use existing RPA development platforms (like Automation Anywhere or Zapier) to build a bot or program it from scratch using languages like Python. Either way, the resulting solution that helps automate a process is what is called an RPA bot.


Which Businesses Can Benefit From RPA


Every business that has a repetitive process can benefit from RPA. An RPA bot can be used to perform simple actions like extract data from an email, or complex actions like using optical character recognition (OCR) to read and manipulate data from a scanned form. Essentially, ANY repeating process within a business is capable of being automated.

Businesses today are quickly recognizing the benefits of implementing RPA:

  1. RPA Software does not need an infrastructure upgrade. Businesses with legacy systems can implement RPA with existing infrastructure and applications. An RPA bot is ‘added’ to the infrastructure.
  2. Modern platforms make it easy to implement and integrate RPA.
  3. An automated system eliminates human-prone errors.
  4. Execution speed is exponentially faster with an automated system.
  5. Takes over repetitive tasks allowing employees to focus on other critical activities.
  6. Greatly reduces manual work and improves results in the process.
  7. Excluding implementation cost, an RPA solution reduces operational costs.

These benefits and the fact that RPA is business independent has made it a fast-growing technology segment. In fact, a report by Gartner stated that the Global RPA market grew by 63% in 2018.

sales-growth

Almost every department within a business can benefit from RPA. By automating sales operations, a company can draw in highly qualified leads, and sales teams can focus their time and energy on nurturing these leads as opposed to servicing prospects at the top of the sales funnel. Data management tasks can be automated to help administrative teams improve productivity. IT operations can be made more efficient by automating analytics and monitoring tasks. Customer service executives can better serve customers with an RPA bot taking over tasks that do not need personalization. Accounting processes like invoicing and billing can be fully automated to eliminate any errors.


Will RPA Replace Humans


RPA solutions supplement or assist humans, not replace them. RPA is implemented to take over a repetitive task, freeing employees to focus on more productive activities. Even with RPA in place, personalized tasks like customer interaction will always require a human touch. RPA helps a company reduce an employee’s workload by taking over recurring activities and also improves efficiency in the process.

For example, consider an insurance agent whose job is to collect insurance claims forms sent via email, download them, check each field for relevancy, copy-paste data from each field into the firm’s system, then analyze and approve/disapprove the claim. An RPA bot can be set in place to automatically download and extract the form, use OCR to analyze text, and take preliminary action (check policy expiry date, for example), fill data from the form into the system database, and provide a suggestive result. The insurance agent’s job is cut down to checking the final data in the system and approving/disapproving the claim. In this scenario, the agent’s job is not taken over by the RPA bot, but rather simplified and improved.

robot-assists-human

That being said, automation could impact jobs at certain levels within certain businesses. If you consider the same example, if the firm had hired ten agents to manage workload, once RPA is implemented, they will need fewer employees since the workload is reduced, which could lead to re-allocation of the workforce.


How Can Businesses Use RPA


Businesses need to identify operational processes that are repetitive, and then implement RPA to automate them. The following are some uses of RPA. By identifying activities that fall within this scope, a business can determine if an internal process can benefit from RPA:

  1. Any form of data manipulation.
  2. Open emails and attachments.
  3. Move system files and folders.
  4. Copy-paste data (from desktop and online tools).
  5. Fill, read, and extract data fields.
  6. Read/write to a database.
  7. Scrape data from the web.
  8. Connect to external systems via APIs.
  9. Perform mathematical calculations.
  10. Follow an If/Then/Else workflow.

Businesses are already leveraging RPA for activities like data extraction, invoice capture, invoice automation, quote generation, deal settlements and confirmations, HR form tracking and management, payments processing, etc.

If your business has any process that is repeating, you can benefit from RPA, and you should consider implementing an automated solution. RPA not only helps improve business productivity, but it also improves the work-life of your employees. The solutions available today make it a great time and opportunity for businesses looking to implement RPA to easily do so.


How Does RPA Impact Employees


Employees within a company can either work on RPA solutions (build and monitor RPA bots) or work in tandem with RPA bots by automating the repetitive part of a process and manually handling the rest.

EY’s EMEIA Robotics Leader Martin Weis says repetitive tasks are a key reason why employees quit their jobs. RPA helps employees by taking over their mundane tasks (extracting reports, filling expense sheets, etc.) and freeing up their time for more critical activities. This has the potential to improve morale and, consequently, productivity.

Employees are able to better handle customers and improve customer experience and satisfaction with RPA bots taking over recurring operations. A customer-facing bot, for example, can guide a user through a series of steps in order to determine what their issue is and then route the user to the appropriate department along with a preliminary set of information already collected to help the service executive. The added fact that an employee has more time allows them to focus on customer-centric tasks.

RPA drastically reduces operational errors and also execution time, helping employees be more productive and achieve a higher efficiency rate. In fact, the reduction in human-prone errors of an automated process is 100%

automation-work

Employees working on building and monitoring RPA bots have a very lucrative future owing to the constant growth in the field. Technology is evolving, and modern solutions are allowing businesses to greatly reduce operational time and costs while simultaneously increasing revenue and ROI.


How Can an Organization or Individual Begin With RPA?


Any organization looking to train employees on RPA, to implement RPA, or an individual looking to upskill by learning RPA should start with an RPA training course. The effectiveness of an RPA bot depends on the way it is implemented, which is dependent on the knowledge and skills of the RPA bot developer. Acquiring these skills from experienced trainers is the right way forward.

Xccelerate’s RPA training programs are tailored to help individuals and organizations successfully implement automation solutions within the enterprise. Every course is taught by industry experts, and the curriculum is designed to suit your specific requirements (by providing domain-specific use cases). For a detailed course structure and more training information, drop us a message: https://xccelerate.co/corporate-training.