What is RPA?
RPA is an acronym for Robotic Process Automation. But in our humble opinion, the word “robotic” is not really necessary here, as it sometimes creates a misconception that we are talking about actual robots in a manufacturing plant.
Basically, RPA is a technology that is used to automate processes within a computer by using a software that is specifically designed for the purpose. This software (or the machine that it is installed on) is often called a robot, because it automatically performs actions that would otherwise be done manually by a person – launches applications, presses buttons, populates text fields, reads and writes emails, etc.
However, this is a very primitive description of RPA. A software robot views the same process from a completely different perspective than a human. Such a software robot can perform actions in the background of the desktop, without the user realizing something is actually happening. And it is also able to do so by employing technologies such as direct connections to databases, APIs, web services, integrations with various software packages, scripts and codes written in different programming languages, etc. This usually leads to increased effectiveness, speed, stability and the possibility to multitask. At the same time, RPA is a much more powerful tool than any script written in any language. This is because a software robot has functionalities that enable it to “decide” on whether a process should start or not. This means that RPA tools can analyse data and use it to – after applying certain logic to it – make a decision not only on how to perform a task, but also on whether the task should be performed at all. And this does not require any expensive integrations with any software packages, because RPA can effectively work with any pre-existing software.
Why does it work?
Process automation – in one form or another – has been used by businesses worldwide for a few decades now. But RPA has gained a huge popularity in recent years, because these technologies are extremely powerful, have a wide range of applications and at the same time retain the ease-of-use that no other means of automation can compare to. Not to mention the time to deployment and payback being much shorter. This leads to RPA being associated with easy and quick profit. While the profit (or benefit) of it is obvious, the “quickness” is an entirely separate topic (that will be discussed in a separate article in the near future).
But let us get back to the benefits. No one actually argues about that by now. There’s a variety of service and software providers, consultants and businesses that have already implemented RPA solutions, and they all agree on the same main benefits of using RPA. Their lists only differ in prioritizing the same things. And those things are:
- Enhanced productivity. Software robots work around the clock. They never go on holiday or a sick leave, nor do they ever quit the job, meaning a single robot has much more time to spend on their work than an average human employee.
- Higher efficiency. Software robots work at least 5 times faster than humans (market average – our practice shows that they can go up to a few hundred times faster than humans, depending on the process). This means they are able to do more with the same amount of time. And they can also handle multiple tasks at the same time, effectively increasing efficiency even more.
- Improved customer experience. Customers are always much happier, when results are delivered fast and without errors.
- Standard operational procedures. RPA leads to greater transparency and easier auditing of internal processes. It also enables businesses to easily improve their compliance with regulatory procedures.
- Reduces cost. With automation of repetitive manual processes, administrative costs are significantly reduced. And with the elimination of human errors, the cost of human error is also eliminated.
- Easier scalability. When processes are running on autopilot, it is much easier to increase the amount of transactions that need to be handled. In addition to that, when mundane manual tasks are automated, employees are enabled to focus on more value-adding activities, which eventually leads to business growth, without needing to hire extra resources.
- Greater agility. Software robots can be effortlessly retrained to adapt to the seasonality of business and any changes in the market or inside the organization.
As we have already noted, the benefits or RPA are obvious. The main question is thus not whether you should use it, but instead – whether you can afford not to use it. Especially when it costs nothing to try it out!
If you would like to know more about our offer for a risk-free demo of RPA, contact us via our contact page here.