Robotic Process Automation (RPA), also known as software robotics, emulates and automates low-value human tasks such as extracting data, filling forms, moving files, responding to emails, etc. When RPA is integrated with cognitive technologies such as speech recognition, natural language processing, etc., higher-value tasks that typically require human perception can also be automated. In essence, RPA uses software robots to improve process efficiency and quality and ensure the accuracy of process outcomes.

It combines APIs and user interface (UI) interactions to integrate and perform repetitive tasks between enterprise and productivity applications. By deploying scripts that emulate human processes, RPA tools complete autonomous execution of various activities and transactions across unrelated software systems.

Software robots can be programmed to perform these tasks faster and more consistently than people— it certainly helps that they never have to take a break. This means that they can solve problems of tiredness, fatigue and free humans up to perform other tasks.


Who Uses RPA?

Many companies all over the world have started to implement RPA in some form. Departmental stores, banks, travel agencies, and many more currently use RPA to automate their processes. For instance, American Express Global Business Travel uses RPA to take over data entry tasks, freeing its agents to focus on more meaningful tasks that add value to the customer experience. This makes the process less stressful and more straightforward for customers. In addition, the company is in the process of automating ticket rebook recommendations when airports are shut down.

What Are the Benefits of RPA?

In a world where consumers demand more efficient services, RPA poses the perfect solution for customer and business needs. Below, we highlight some of the benefits of implementing RPA.

1. Saves Cost

One of the more significant benefits of RPA to companies is that it saves costs. Unlike some other types of technology, RPA requires no custom software, minimal coding, and systems integration. This saves companies a lot of technology costs.

Also, where a company might have needed to hire several people to do a job, a software robot would take on the job and complete it in an even shorter period. In addition, these bots are typically easy to implement and maintain and do not cost as much.

For instance, according to Deloitte, a large consumer and commercial bank redesigned its claims process and deployed 85 software robots to run 13 processes, handling 1.5 million requests per year. This resulted in the bank adding the equivalent of around 230 full-time employees at approximately 30 percent of the cost of recruiting more staff.

2. Improved Employee Morale and Customer Satisfaction

In many organizations, employees are burdened with doing boring and repetitive tasks along with their other duties. RPA takes care of this problem and increases employee morale by taking these tasks off their hands. Employees now have time to focus on meaningful tasks that make more impact.

Along with improving employee morale, RPA can improve customer satisfaction. They no longer have to wait for an overworked, bored, and tired employee to respond to requests. Instead, a bot takes over such tasks and attends to them faster and more efficiently. This makes the customer better satisfied with your service and could even build brand affinity and loyalty.

3. Better Accuracy and Compliance

38% of managers report that compliance improvements are the leading benefit of RPA programmed bots. Hence, if these bots are programmed correctly, you can be guaranteed better accuracy of results and compliance with industry standards. This reduces the error margin drastically, reduces management challenges, and is better for the business overall.


How Do You Apply RPA

Applying Robotic Process Automation is not a one-off task. Like every important organizational process, it takes a committed approach using these 5 main steps.

1. Conduct Research

Automating a broken or error-prone process will not fix the process; rather, it’ll just break faster. As such, it is important to research several aspects of your organization’s needs before you begin. Ask the important questions: What processes does your business need to automate? What processes will yield the most impact when automated? What is the operating model design? How do you want the bots to work together?

The process you decide to use does not need to mirror the current human one, especially if you find a more efficient method. Research also includes choosing the right RPA solution to meet your needs and finding the business case for its implementation. You would need to map out and manage these to have a successful implementation of RPA.

2. Involve Staff from the Onset

There have been talks about robots replacing human jobs for a long time. The implication is that your employees might be worried about their job security when the use of RPA is announced. Therefore, it is important to manage their expectations and educate them about the functions of the RPA even before implementation begins. If they can see RPA as technology that complements their efforts instead of replacing them, you would have less of a management problem on your hands. Involving IT from the onset also ensures that they are well prepared to set up when implementation commences.

3. Keep data secure

Companies need to have data management, governance, and security policies before implementing RPA/IA, as these solutions work across multiple enterprise applications. Ensuring role-based permissions and access is one component and ensuring data integrity is another, among many others.

4. Test. Test. Test

Unfortunately, many businesses set up RPA, deploy systems, and believe that is all there is to it. However, RPA work is incomplete until after a series of tests have been done. This will ensure that system weaknesses are found and addressed.

User testing is also advised, especially by people familiar with the tasks the bots are meant to perform. Performance testing using intended devices also ensures that they can handle additional infrastructure requirements of the RPA.

5. Document Learnings and Share Best Practices

It is important to document processes and learnings to ensure that learnings can be passed on and systems optimized. For example, following the success of RPA implementation in one department, a company might decide to implement it in another. However, others might face the same problems setting up and integrating RPA with their currency process without the appropriate documentation as you did.

Final Thoughts

Robotic Process Automation has come to stay. Companies need to take advantage of this technology to improve customer satisfaction, increase process efficiency and save costs. However, to implement RPA successfully, business heads need to conduct proper research, manage staff expectations, ensure data security, test and document learnings.

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