RPA 101: What is Robotic Process Automation?
Over the past few years, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has surpassed its reputation as just another buzzword to become a reality for businesses in a myriad of industries and there are many facts people need to know in order to fully understand the potential of RPA. Here, we break down purpose, benefits and applications of this increasingly popular technology.
What is RPA?
Put simply, Robotic Process Automation is the use of software to handle high-volume repetitive tasks. It offers the ability to drastically transform a business from the front to back-end by relieving human workers from the monotony of tedious activities, reducing errors rates and dramatically decreasing the length of time needed to perform a variety of processes. Additionally, while operating, an RPA solution can capture valuable data that can be used by the business to improve the processes it performs.
What are the benefits?
An RPA solution can process multiple actions in an incredibly short amount of time. Its ability to eliminate the risk of human error plays a significant role here. Deloitte reports that by utilising RPA, businesses can see a 27% increase in tasks performed 'right first time'.
Cost: The ability for an RPA solution to perform a high volume of tasks at a faster speed with greater accuracy mean that their implementation can be considerably cheaper than hiring a human worker. NASSCOM state that RPA implementation can provide companies with a cost reduction of 35-65% for onshore process operations.
Data: RPA solutions have the analytical abilities to examine, collate and compare data across different systems. In doing so, RPA can help businesses to identify weaknesses as well as opportunities for growth within their processes.
Where can it be used?
There are numerous case studies available of businesses that have implemented RPA into their unique business ecosystems, but here are the most common business functions that organizations tend to start their automation journey with and see the best results.
Finance: A majority of companies that implement RPA choose to do begin with their finance function. From accounts receivable to budgeting, an RPA solution can process information faster and more efficiently than its human counterpart. McKinsey found that currently demonstrated RPA technologies can fully automate 42 percent of finance activities and mostly automate a further 19 percent.
HR: For the Human Resources professional, RPA can provide the freedom to adequately direct time and energy to hiring the best employees for their organisation. By automating repetitive, time consuming tasks such as payroll and on boarding, those in HR can focus on higher level responsibilities such building relationships with employees and strengthening the culture and values of the business.
IT: Finance and HR might be the largest sectors implementing RPA, but IT also presents an area in which there is room for RPA to streamline processes, both in support and in backend operations. In 2017, 37% of firms in the Nordics aimed to implement IT automation, the scope which can encompass manual work in data centres and cloud deployments.