Definition of RPA
RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation and represents a new type of software that can act as your digital employee increasing capacity of your team. You can think about RPA as a digital intern who needs detailed instructions to process tasks, but can work 24/7 without getting tired or making mistakes. RPA can work with any (even legacy) applications and it can work with any documents you currently use in the process (Excel, Word). These digital interns are using applications in the same way as humans do – by clicking on buttons, filling forms, copying&pasting, moving files, completing calculations, making structured decisions…
Example of RPA process: Issuing of invoices
- Several departments create excels with invoices to be issued and save these files to Sharepoint
- The robot opens folders, reads through information, opens accounting software and generates invoices
- The robot sends invoice proposals for approval
- Employees from departments approve invoices
- The robot receives approval and sends e-invoices via e-mails to customers and those that need to be printed to reception
Example of RPA process – COVID-19 related: Installments delay for loans at a bank
- Customer submits a request for loan/mortgage payments delay
- An employee fills in the form and sends it to the robot
- The robot reads through request, opens the core banking system, executes required changes and recalculates new instalments
- The robot sends information back to the employee and customer about successful resolution and information about new instalments and timelines shift
Should I start “hiring” these digital interns (digital workforce)?
- Economic consideration - to get payback on investment within one year, based on our experience, you can ask yourself if there is a process that your employees execute and take at least 2 hours each day or 10 hours per week (could be currently distributed among multiple employees)
- Process quality considerations - you can't afford mistakes in your process and each mistake can have a direct impact on P&L, so reducing mistakes is very important
- Employee experience consideration - your employees complain about routine activities they have to complete and they might be prone to leave for an employer with better technology and more interesting work
- Customer experience consideration - your clients are complaining about your slow response times and you want to do something about it
- Speed consideration - your IT is overloaded with requests and they are telling you that it can take months, possibly years to implement your desired changes to systems
Just by ticking one of the areas above, RPA is a tool to consider using during your digital transformation journey.
RPA vs. Macros vs. System integration – how do they compare
There are different options of automation and each of them has its applicability. RPA does not have the ambition to replace system integration, in fact, it allows for automation of processes, where system integration does not make sense from economical and time point of view.
Each of these approaches to automation brings different results and requires a different degree of effort implementing and maintaining them, let's look at some of the key differences.
Typical areas of use for RPA:
- Accounting & Finance - purchase order creation, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payments, bank statements download
- Sales support - administration of CRM / ERP to add new products, discounts, special offers
- Customer support - resolution of simple customer requests - change of customer data, change of products/services, cancellation of an order, order processing
- HR - new joiners & leavers, payroll calculation
- IT - resolution of simple IT tickets
More RPA insights to follow in the next posts!