What is Robotic Process Automation
- Amruta Bhaskar
- Sep 16, 2020
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Robotic Process Automation is the technology that allows anyone today to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. RPA robots utilize the user interface to capture data and manipulate applications just like humans do. They interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems to perform on a vast variety of repetitive tasks. Only substantially better: an RPA software robot never sleeps and makes zero mistakes.
Explaining and evangelizing RPA outside of IT should be a bit easier than doing so for other topics that are harder to distil down for non-technical people, such as serverless or microservices. The definitions above speak to this. It can also be easier to show people outside of IT how RPA implementations could benefit them directly by reducing drudge work in their day-to-day jobs. (The same task might be more challenging when it comes to explaining to a field service technician how, say, containerization benefits them.)
“Businesses and organizations like RPA because it helps them improve productivity across a wide range of populations – users, customers, employees, sales and marketing people, business people, accountants, legal and financial analysts, etc.,” says Muddu Sudhakar, CEO at Aisera.
Still, the light bulbs usually turn on quicker with accessible examples of how technology can be used in the enterprise. So let’s return to data-intensive processes as a good starting point. Sudhakar reminds us of how many different actions can attend data: data receiving, data processing, data collection, data correction, data creation, and so forth.
Think about the repetitive processes in business functions such as finance, customer service, and HR.
Consider the amount of this kind of work in an area like finance: Receivables and payables alone have traditionally required tons of manual, repetitive effort by skilled workers. This is why you see lofty predictions about RPA in specific business functions: Gartner, for example, has predicted that 73 percent of corporate controllers will implement some form of RPA in their finance departments by 2020, up from 19 percent in 2018.
Other traditional business units, like customer service and HR, offer their examples of data-intensive, rules-based, and repetitive processes. Specific industries such as insurance and financial services also fit the bill.
Edwards, the COO at Eggplant, offers this specific use case as an example: Returns processing. Think about the last time you returned a purchase you made online, and what that entails not only for you but also the company from which you purchased. Those “free” returns are anything.
Best Practices of RPA Implementation
- One should consider the business impact before opting for the RPA process
- Define and focus on the desired ROI
- Focus on targeting larger groups and automating large, impactful processes
- Combine attended and unattended RPA
- Poor design, change management can wreak havoc
- Don't forget the impact on people
- Governance of the project is the foremost thing in the RPA process. Policy, Corporate, Government compliance should be ensured.