A digital workforce that never sleeps, makes zero errors and costs less than the team handling the entire repetitive business process. Sounds too good to be true? It actually isn’t with the advent of Robotic Process Automation. A “bot” can be programmed to interact with any application just as a human would – they can open emails, transfer data from one system to the other, extract and process structured and unstructured data, read to databases, the list goes on. It is both simple yet powerful since it allows an organization to automate at a fraction of the cost without any need to make changes to the underlying systems in use.

How does Robotic Process Automation work?

There is no gleaming, futuristic looking robot sitting at a desk whirring away at computer programs. RPA is rather a software that has no physical presence. The speed though is very real. Think of the “chatbots” that we come across on almost all websites. These are usually always powered by RPA.
Any process can be replaced by RPA if it has a “if/then ” rule based programmatic sequence and has a high enough volume. The software program has the ability to interact with, interpret and manage data to a logical conclusion. It runs through a set of workflows with the same level of accuracy, every time. That might sound a bit boring, unlike the robots we see in the movies but then RPA is just that – automating mundane, repetitive tasks.
For example, online returns processing is a data-intensive process that is now being taken over by RPA. All of us have returned goods purchased online with no thought to what is involved in the supposedly “free” return policy. It is a series of rule-based repetitive steps that are triggered by a specific action – a return request initiated by the purchaser. This sets of actions such as acknowledging the request through email, setting a pick-up date through the vendor, sending a receipt once the return has been processed, updating the inventory, making the payment reversal and updating the internal billing system. Now apply this to any business process like invoicing, credit card applications, payroll processing and so on – all are perfect use cases for RPA. The biggest plus is that It frees humans to take on higher value tasks leading to better strategic and financial benefits.

Are your business processes a fit for RPA?

According to Deloitte’s third annual RPA survey, 53% of businesses have already implemented RPA for many of their business processes. The interesting insight is that these companies have achieved ROI within a year of implementation. The benefits include improved compliance (92%), improved quality / accuracy (90%), improved productivity (86%), cost reduction (59%). If your organization is not yet evaluating RPA then the possibility is that your competitors are. The clinching argument is that 74% of businesses are already on track to have RPA powering some of their processes by 2020.
The numbers aside, while RPA can be used in any business, only certain processes might be fit for Robotic Process Automation. RPA cannot be confused with AI as the former is a software robot that mimics human action while AI are machines simulating human intelligence. Though, in more advanced systems, RPA can be coupled with machine learning to bring in more benefits.

There is a simple checklist when deciding if any business process can be moved to RPA

  • The business process must be ruled-based
  • The task must be repetitive and occur at sufficient volume
  • There should be a definite trigger that sets off the process
  • It should be time-sensitive
  • Rely on digital data

Processes that lend themselves to RPA take-over

So now that you know automation can bring in operational and business benefits just where do you start? Across various industries, RPA has been implemented for

1.Customer order processing
2.Call center operations
3.Payroll automation
4.Forms processing
5.Invoice processing
6.Profile updations
7.Claims processing
8.Insurance underwriting
9.Credit card processing
10.Software installations
11.Data cleansing
12.Financial P&L preparation
13.HR candidate sourcing
14.Compensation claims
15.Inventory management
These are just a few of the business processes that can take advantage of RPA deployment. To know more about industry specific solutions, reach out to us at iTech Data Services.

Challenges with RPA implementation

The biggest advantage automation has is that these tools do not alter the existing systems and can even work with legacy systems. The best use cases are where the underlying systems can communicate through APIs. Though wrong choice of RPA technology can be a party pooper, it still remains that a lot can go wrong even after successful deployment.
Since RPA usually interacts with user interfaces and follows a fixed set of procedures, even minor changes can throw the process of its tracks. Data sources and destinations must be both highly structured and never changing. After all a robot cannot adjust for changes unless you program it to.
In spite of these limitations, RPA is still a game-changer as within its scope it performs at a higher level of accuracy and speed than any human can. RPA is getting even more sophisticated and is now taking on the characteristics of Artificial Intelligence tools such as cognitive interfaces. It is on the path towards sentiment analysis and this will open up the horizon even further.

iTech specializes in providing data management and data processing services at the crossroads of proven methodologies, technology adoption and human intelligence. Whether you’ve never outsourced before or your current outsourcing provider is falling short of your expectations, iTech may be the right choice for you. If you would like to know more about how to implement RPA, reach out to me, Jason Dodge at jason@iTechDataServices.com