While most technologies face uncertainty in the modern marketplace, there are a small handful of technologies that virtually everyone agrees are poised to revolutionize the way business is carried out. Robotic process automation (RPA) is one such technology. Robotic automation software allows business owners to automate repetitive tasks that might otherwise require time-consuming and error-prone human labor. By performing tasks such as moving files, communicating between systems and reading paperwork that previously had to be handled manually with a mouse and keyboard, robotic process automation can streamline workflows and reduce the cost of operation for running a business.
Although the list of services that process automation software can perform is continuing to expand, it can already handle many types of common computer-based work tasks:
A major factor that contributes to the prohibitive cost of producing quality compliance and audit procedures in many companies is the time required for human auditors to track and organize paperwork. Since required audit documentation is often handled by separate departments that do not communicate with one another regularly, this can create additional layers of complexity for following internal or government guidelines. When an RPA robotic process handles a series of tasks, it creates a paper trail that significantly eases the process of reviewing performed work. In addition, when properly implemented, RPA is more reliable than human labor, resulting in fewer mistakes and, therefore, better compliance.
Process automation software is engineered to complete repetitive work that, by nature, does not require judgment or decision-making. The structured logic and decision-making that straightforward RPA employs are suitable for analyzing rigid data, like spreadsheets or form fields. Artificial intelligence, in contrast, is designed to interpret unstructured data, such as text or voice data. For completing highly complex tasks and automating a wider range of processes than one technology or the other is capable of completing alone, RPA and AI have the potential to interface with one another. This results in end-to-end workflows that require little or no human oversight.
Since at least the industrial revolution, humans have been engaging in some form of process automation. Machinery, because it lacks the capacity to become bored or fatigued, can perform functions that humans would simply rather not do. Machines make fewer errors, finish work faster and cost less to host than humans.
CEOs, CFOs and business managers are always looking for ways to cut costs and increase efficiency. If they were not, they would likely face criticism for failing an essential duty. Because process automation software is now accessible and reliable, the likelihood that competitors will adopt it is an eventuality that is unwise for decision-makers to overlook. Companies specializing in RPA have experienced impressive growth over the past several years. This is expected to continue in the next decade as robotics and AI see further investments and advances.
Where many mundane work items in a traditional environment are subject to various discrepancies and oversights, metrics and analytics in process automation software allow users to easily identify sources of error and inefficiency. The amount of time between tasks, as well as a summary of tasks completed, are now viewable to your entire company.
Companies that range in size from behemoths like Walmart to smaller, locally run startups can equally make use of RPA process automation. RPA robots can communicate across systems and geographies according to customizable triggers. This means that, as your business expands, you can take your RPA robotic process with you.
RPA is a technology that has the potential to both replace human jobs and significantly change or affect human work routines. Before determining whether automation is right for you, carefully consider the impact that your decision will have on your workforce. In many cases, RPA will simply allow workers to focus on tasks that are more interesting and engaging than ones that have been automated, or on meaningful tasks that produce more revenue.
Remember that just because a process has been made instantaneous and automatic doesn't mean that the humans who formerly performed the task are obsolete. The implementation of RPA is normally a period during which numerous design issues need to be ironed out. This is an opportunity for workers to continue serving an important function in your workplace as they transition into other needed roles. Since it would be unwise to allow an RPA robotic process to operate unsupervised indefinitely, it will always be necessary for a responsible human to collaborate periodically with a working bot.
In an Enterprisers Project article from 2019, David Landreman, the CPO of a healthcare automation company and an expert on automation, was quoted on the prerequisites for RPA implementation. He lists four criteria for establishing an automated process:
Obviously, there is no shortage of businesses with work that meets these items. Perhaps the greatest advantage of RPA is its flexibility. Since it does not require extensive coding or interface exclusively with proprietary software, any business leader with an interest in optimizing the efficiency of the workflow of the company can oversee its implementation.
If one thing is certain, it is that developments in technology are not moving backwards. More and more leaders are likely to turn to RPA as a solution for businesses suffering from workflow problems or lower-than-optimal efficiency. RPA is a powerful advancement toward a world without catastrophic errors or repetitive labor. It is important to remember, however, that RPA requires careful planning during the initial phase of implementation to allow for issues to be worked out and staff to become properly accustomed to the technology.