What is RPA?
RPA is an automation technology that allows you to eliminate repetitive tasks in a digital environment. To do this, it uses robots and software that have been trained to mimic the actions of human employees to perform various tasks. These can be data entry in the CRM systems, automated invoicing, text recognition, and more.
The basic elements of RPA can be found in the acronym.
R – Robotic
This means that a special algorithm, or software bot, performs a task. Just like an industrial robot that follows an inline script to assemble a car, an RPA robot follows a predefined set of rules to simulate user interactions. For example, he can distribute incoming support tickets among the support team.
P – Process
This is a series of steps that a user takes to accomplish a task. For example, say that a support manager needs to handle all incoming inquiries. They open each query, categorize them according to type, send pre-made responses to the most common answers, and allocate some of them that require extra attention to the right teammates. In the case of RPA, the above sequence is used to create a scenario for a bot performing the task instead of a real person.
This means that tasks are performed without the participation of a real person or with minimal intervention (known as supervised and unattended automated processes). Thanks to this, RPA can free up a lot of human resources by being able to work 24/7 and manage a huge amount of data at breakneck speeds.
When done correctly, RPA is a powerful technology to increase your human resources, improve customer experience, and enhance digital transformation.
History of Robotic Process Automation
Since the advent of the information age, multiple waves of process automation have gone through such as computerized automation (occurring between the 1970s and 1990s), business process management (BPM) in the 1990s, and RPA in the 2000s. In order to be able to appreciate the current state of RPA, we’ll need to understand what went before it, starting primarily with improvements after the 1990s.
BPM is simply a combination of multiple methods so that business processes can run more efficiently. In the 1990s, various technology companies including IBM and Oracle introduced various automation technologies in order to improve the business process, which was later called Business Process Automation. Subsequently, the digital transformation movement prompted the development of RPA technology.
There are many applications of RPA technology, but here, we list some common application areas:
Quote to criticism
It is an important business process, and it is responsible for increasing revenue for any organization. Organizations usually rely on selling. If there is any problem on the sales side, it can lead to customer complaints.
Sometimes organizations end up selling at a discount due to clerical errors. Automating these sales processes reduces errors and provides fast customer service.
From purchase to payment
It is the process that involves extracting invoices and payment data from different networks such as banks, vendors, logistics companies, etc. These networks usually do not provide easy the integration methods. They generally involve manual labor to complete tasks, which can be replaced by RPA bots. It’s the best way to bridge integration gaps through the fully automated purchase-to-pay process.
Most B2C (Business-to-Consumer) organizations follow the customer onboarding process. They must maintain good relations with their customers until customers start using their products. With cognitive automation and OCR (Optical Character Reader), most customer tasks can be carried out on board with ease. It can be applied even in the companies that rely on legacy systems, which will help in improving the customer experience.
Employee on board
The process of onboarding and onboarding new employees is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process for HR and IT analysts. It includes a series of tasks such as creating the new accounts, email addresses, access rights, etc. Due to the rule-based and repetitive nature of employee activities on board, the application of a pre-defined workflow can be automated once a new user account has been created. RPA bots can be set up to send notifications and documents via email to new employees.
Data migration and data entry
Most companies still use legacy systems to perform important functions. The old billing system is an example of such systems. It needs to interact with other systems that may not have the ability to get the required data from the APIs. In such cases, employees manually perform tasks to migrate data using formats such as CSV. By implementing RPA, manual work and unexpected clerical errors can be reduced to a minimum. Organizations can also automate entire workflows for data entries, which can increase productivity by reducing time.
Confirm the validity of the data
RPA is more suitable than any other tools for performing data validation tasks such as checking the accuracy and quality of source data before data is used, imported, or processed. The primary goal is to generate consistent, accurate and complete data, so there will be no data loss and errors during transmission.
Extract data from PDFs, scanned documents, and other formats
Using technologies such as Screen Scraping, OCR and basic pattern recognition, data can be easily extracted from different formats, which will help reduce the requirements for manually entering data.
Preparing the periodic report
In every business, employees need to prepare regular reports to inform managers of their work and progress. Preparing such reports and sending them to the managers may distract the employees. RPA solutions can be applied to automatically generate reports, analyze their contents, and email them to relevant managers.