Overview: Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation often leads to confusion because there is no visible robot to perform actions. It is, on the other hand, software that takes over tasks previously performed by humans. So it is not to be confused with physical robots, as is known from production. Nevertheless, Robotic Process Automation offers many business starting points to automate tasks, save costs, and become more efficient. Here we show you what Robotic Process Automation is, what you should consider before implementation, where there are frequent applications and whether it is just a short-term trend.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation is also often abbreviated with RPA or robot-controlled process automation. It is defined as automated processing of structured processes in the company by digital software bots. The RPA dates back to the 2000s and was linked to the evolution of three key technologies required for this purpose. Screen scraping, workflow automation and artificial intelligence form the basis for the development of RPA technology. The technology was also inspired by the robots from the industry, which were already known at the time, and can carry out production tasks independently and completely and not only semi-automated.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning now allow you to automate routine tasks that previously only could be done by humans. Even very large amounts of data can be managed by RPA. The software bots or robots mimic the work of a human employee and can log in and out of applications on their own, enter and process data, calculate tasks and make transactions. The RPA software is over-stored in a company’s IT infrastructure and can therefore be implemented without having to make a change in the existing systems. This is fast and efficient. The software can take over almost any process and thus offers numerous and creative applications.
Robotic Process Automation offers companies many advantages and is a central component of digitalization. Among other things, customer service can be improved and accelerated, processes become more efficient, costs for manual and repetitive tasks are saved, and overall productivity can be increased. Quality also remains uniformly high and is not subject to day-to-day fluctuations or human error, and the control and compliance of standards can be automated and thus increased. All work steps can be traced back by the software, should there be a problem, and be carried out around the clock, as no working hours have to be observed. RPA software is implemented relatively quickly and therefore saves resources over other automation strategies.
Another advantage of RPA over other IT automation solutions is the skilful response to exceptions and changed circumstances. While IT solutions usually cannot handle this, Robotic Process Automation is trained in such cases. The algorithm is constantly learning and this makes it possible to react correctly to new situations. It is also possible to communicate with other systems without the need to interconnect an employee. Exceptions are therefore not simply marked and assigned to an employee for further processing, but the RPA technology searches independently for the missing information, even across systems.
In which areas is Robotic Process Automation used and what do I have to consider before integration?
The RPA software is most commonly used for manual, time-consuming and repetitive work. This can be the case, for example, in the office or in production.
However, in order to operate Robotic Process Automation, strict rules must be in place for the operation. If this is not yet the case, processes should first be defined as routine processes and the exact steps should be defined. This does not have to be done centrally for the entire company, but offers individual departments individual opportunities to carry out their processes more efficiently. Due to individuality, flexibility does not have to suffer and can be maintained despite fixed routine processes. The objective of integrating RPA technology should also be maintained before it is put into practice.
Typical applications of Robotic Process Automation are customer service, accounting, healthcare, human resources departments, financial services and supply chain management.
In customer service, the technology automates the tasks of the call center. For example, documents can be uploaded automatically, email signatures can be checked and information submitted by the customer can be checked automatically for completeness and how to proceed with it.
In accounting, Robotic Process Automation can handle general and operational accounting, budgeting, and transaction reporting.
In healthcare, medical records, reports, and billing can be managed by RPA.
The technology is also an efficient solution for HR departments and can take on time-consuming tasks such as time recording and management of employee information.
In the area of financial services, for example, account openings and closures are carried out by Robotic Process Automation.
Another important area of application is supply chain management. Here, inventories can be monitored, shipments can be tracked and payments and orders can be processed automatically. So there are already numerous effective applications for robotic process automation and in the future many more will probably be added with a further development of the technology.
Conclusion on Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation can make companies more successful and simplify their day-to-day work. However, the software should not be rushed and integrated headless just to be there. First, we really should take the time to analyze resource-intensive processes and consider where automation would make sense. The required workflows must be defined as fixed routines and rules in order for RPA technology to adopt them. You should also answer the question of whether you want fully automated or only semi-automated processes for your company. If the corresponding preparatory work is carried out, Robotic Process Automation can then lead to great cost savings, efficiency and productivity.
What is certain is that the RBA is not only a trend, but will continue to accompany us for a long time to come. By 2025, 140 million full-time positions worldwide are to be replaced by the corresponding software, and by 2024 the RPA market is already expected to reach five million dollars. As a result, companies and employees will have many new opportunities, and tasks and responsibilities of previous job descriptions are likely to adapt and change across all levels of the hierarchy. So it‘s worth keeping up to date and thinking early on in which areas you could use this technology in a meaningful way.