4 things to know about RPA — Understanding key automation technologies

Automation technology can be a daunting and complex world. Over the next couple of weeks, we will break down a handful of the key technologies (Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning, Optical Character Recognition and Cognitive Computing) into bitesize chunks to review their definition, uses and advantages.

We will kick this off with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and highlight four key points this software has to offer.

Over the next couple of articles you will notice the term ‘Digital Coworker’ pop up, this is our term for software ‘bots’, we call them this because we train ours to learn and develop, as a human colleague would.

1. Definition:

RPA is software that runs on a computer (desktop, laptop, virtual machine) and mimics the keystrokes, mouse clicks, and the simple decision-making humans complete in a process.

2. There are no actual robots

Bots come in all shapes and sizes. When you hear RPA, think software, not a physical robot that could be found in a car manufacturing plant. ‘Bot’ or ‘bots’ are the more common terms for software robots (‘Digital Coworkers’ to us). There are good ones out there (like the helpful and efficient ones we build, who support business processes) and bad ones (those who spread misinformation on social media).

3. RPA is commonly used for ‘back office’ processes

  • ‘Back office’ processes often include administrative tasks that provide vital support for the running of businesses. These processes are integral to maintain a healthy business and support the ‘front office’ (the ‘face’ of the company, broadly speaking the ‘front office’ covers any departments in contact with clients such as marketing, sales and customer service). For a human, these mundane tasks can become tedious, whereas bots thrive on clear rules and little variation.
  • Here are a few examples of back office processes that lend themselves well to RPA due to their high volume and repetitive nature: accounts payable, accounts receivable, check reconciliation, order fulfilment, and on/off boarding employees (to name a few).
  • Having said that, RPA also has its place in the front office and can be used for processes such as underwriting insurance policies or handling claims.

4. Advantages of RPA

When used correctly for RPA-appropriate tasks, RPA can come with a plethora of positive results, here are just a few:

a. Improved employee engagement

  • A Gallup study from 2018 shows only 34% of US employees are ‘actively engaged’ in their roles, 53% are ‘not engaged’ and 13% are ‘actively disengaged’.
  • Most roles come with tasks that you must do but don’t love to do, if RPA picks up these tasks, it allows your employees to focus on varied, creative problem-solving and customer engagement, which will benefit the overall business and wellbeing of staff.

b. Save time and money while improving efficiency

  • RPA software can be extremely efficient and remove the possibility of human errors
  • Here is a brief case study from our client base at Roots Automation to illustrate this point:
  • Our challenge: our client had a team of only six people, with 10–12 tax-season temporary workers, who manually inspected over 50,000 e-filings each year
  • Our solution: we trained bots Digital Coworkers to look for certain triggers that would require human review and identify errors or anomalies then notify the tax partner for manual review
  • Outcome: our client saw an 80% improvement in their workflow and eliminated the need to hire temp workers, saving them money.

c. Scalability

  • RPA bots can scale (imagine a Digital Coworker asking another Digital Coworker for help, or hiring a new employee in the human world) to ensure it meets the business and workload requirements.
  • Unlike a human workforce, it is not unreasonable to expect a Digital Coworker to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to guarantee SLAs are met.

Hopefully, this provides a few clear features RPA software has to offer and how it can provide support and benefit many departments of any business.

To continue the conversation, book a free demo with our team or see how we can train the perfect Digital Coworker for your business, get in touch today: info@rootsautomation.com, www.rootsautomation.com

Look out for our next post, 4 things to know about Machine Learning.

Co-Founder & CEO, Roots Automation. Helping organizations free their people to focus on customers and other high-value tasks that build careers and experiences.

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