How Robotic Process Automation can make work more efficient in your business

RPA can help automate tasks that take up time and money and allow staff to focus on more important things.

Image: Olivier Le Moal, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Robotic Process Automation is a form of business process automation that allows anyone to define a set of instructions for a robot or ‘bot’ to perform,” said Aaron Bultman, director of product at Nintex. “RPA bots are capable of mimicking most human-computer interactions to carry out error-free tasks at high volume and speed.”

This allows your business to automate daily processes that once required time-consuming human action to boost efficiency for organizations.

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One example involves processing retail returns. “Traditionally, returns processing has been carried out manually and has been a costly endeavor. With RPA, companies can manage returns without adding to the cost or causing a delay,” Edwards said. “The RPA software can now handle the return, which includes a series of repetitive steps: Sending a message confirming receipt of the return, updating the inventory system, making the payment adjustment to the customer, ensuring that the internal billing system is updated and so on.”

Vicki Knott, co-founder and CEO of CruxOCM, spoke about the benefits RPA can bring to human workers.

“RPA is designed with safety in mind; by easing the pressure on control room operators, you’re able to reduce fatigue that can lead to avoidable environmental and safety catastrophes. By limiting the opportunity for human error, you dramatically increase safety protocols. RIPA [industrial] also builds in an auditable command chain, which adds a newfound level of accountability to industrial processes. Additionally, automating industrial processes can have dramatic bottom line revenue benefits (by increasing the utilization of existing assets and ensuring maximum utilization for new build heavy industry).”

Knott said that relieving human operators from having to engage in thousands of manual commands frees them to focus on higher-level responsibilities like coordinating teams in the field or taking phone calls while knowing assets are operating at peak performance. It also improves the workflows of commercial team members knowing that company-wide processes will have reduced negative impact through automation, which can find and remedy inefficiencies to enhance revenues all while increasing safety. With a more simplified process, new operators can be onboarded faster and reduce risks to business continuity.

According to Gartner, global RPA software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020. Despite economic pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RPA market is still expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2024. Furthermore, Gartner recently predicted 80% of RPA-centric automations will be paired with complementary technologies by 2022.

The path forward requires dexterity and flexibility, however. Rik Chomko, CEO and co-founder of InRule, stressed the need for making automations adaptable to change. “Until they become more flexible, organizations will want to add to their growing DevOps checklist to ensure that any robots that interact with bespoke and commercial applications are evaluated for errors when new updates are installed.”

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Knott pointed out some challenges and best practices for RPA adoption.

“Challenges are ensuring all stakeholders with customers are involved and comfortable with the solution. Heavy industry companies are very large, and it is pertinent that we make sure we have buy in at every level to ensure that the value of our solutions can be realized. Currently for us as a company, finding software engineers that are highly skilled and interested in stepping away from web apps and ad optimization work to something closer to the metal has also been challenging.”

She highly encouraged stakeholder engagement to begin from day one, ensuring that end users understand how it will work and capturing their valuable input, and ensuring that management understands how RIPA provides value to their departments and the organization as a whole.

CEO of Conexiom Ray Grady recommended keeping RPA simple, such as using it to:

  • Copy/paste information between apps.
  • Extract and collate or convert content from emails and other external sources into field data.
  • Find and fetch data from multiple sources.
  • Log into secure apps.
  • Exchange information among multiple apps.
  • Relocate folders and files.
  • Scrape data from search engines/the internet.

Further, he suggested that companies should consider the following things when implementing RPA:

  • Specific processes requiring automation.
  • Level of scalability.
  • Current existing technologies—whether legacy or enterprise.
  • Whether the processes and workflows RPA will automate would benefit from AI’s ability to “think,” creating new rules for and performing supervised, reinforcement and unsupervised learning.

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