What is Robotic Process Automation And How Can You Get Started With It?

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Ever since Gartner named Robotic Process Automation (RPA) the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market, the term has become a big buzzword in the industry. Businesses compete against each other to be a step ahead, and their processes become more efficient and scalable. As per the same report, almost 72% of organizations in the US will be working with one or the other form of RPA, increasing their overall productivity. 

With such exciting prospects, it’s no wonder that more and more people are getting behind the idea of investing in RPA. However, before jumping onto the bandwagon, it’s important to know what exactly is RPA and how it can change your business inside out. Furthermore, it is vital to know to get started with RPA and is it even a good fit for your business? We will tackle all these questions and more in this blog but before that, first things first… 

What Exactly Is RPA and How Does it Work?

Robotic Process Automation is an automation solution where robotic software is used to automate repetitive tasks. The easiest example to understand the RPA’s workings is a feature-rich, macro-enabled Excel sheet. Such sheets can be used to automate comparison between columns, extracting data from one sheet to another and then performing various operations, running analysis reports by fetching information from different sheets, and integrating applications with processed data. 

These sheets are popular across industries and departments for simplifying routine tasks like payroll management, staff productivity insights, and the management of transactional data with utmost efficiency.  

RPA takes this same approach to automation and scale its advantages across many other applications. These are small scripted solutions that can help reduce the overhead of routine tasks that do not require much cognitive capacity. Tasks like answering FAQs, creating an invoice based on the given information, sending transactional emails, etc., are all examples of swivel tasks that can easily be taken care of by RPA solutions.

How Does RPA Works 

Get Trained 

Before a robotic software can do anything, it needs to be trained on the functions it needs to perform. You can do that through desktop analysis tools, that will capture users’ actions to then train the RPA agent.

Operate

Once trained, the automation robot is all ready to perform the tasks it’s been developed for. This can happen either in a supervised or unsupervised environment, based on how much human intervention is required. 

Improve

Usually, there isn’t just one job that RPAs automate. Multiple bots work together to bring a smooth flow to the routine processes. In last stage, you will see how well they’re communicating to improve the workflow even more. 

RPAs aim to automate such iterative tasks for businesses in an effort to increase productivity, improve accuracy, and eventually assist in cost-cutting. Since almost all businesses are required to do specific tedious tasks regularly, RPA has found multiple use cases across industries.

Suggested Reading : How can Robotic Process Automation Help Businesses?

RPA Use Cases for Various Industries Across the Globe

RPA as an automation technology has been around for almost a decade now. First coined by a lead analyst at HFS Research in 2012, RPA has already become a part of at least 53% of IT-enabled organizations. Furthermore, as per Gartner’s latest report, almost 90% of large-scale organizations will have adopted RPA at least in one form by the year 2022. 

It’s incredible how this singular offshoot of IT automation has covered so much of the market already. From creating more efficient solutions for routine tasks to streamlining entire processes, RPA is transforming industries worldwide. Let’s take a deeper look, and understand various use cases for RPA across industries.  

Healthcare
Healthcare

Hospitals and other medical institutes are readily investing in IT solutions that allow them to automate medical report generation and system reconciliation. Many clinics are investing in automated medical appointment schedule booking software that allows them to automate the data management in EHRs, facilitating pre-assessments.

Finance
Finance

Banks and other financial institutes have witnessed the most profound disruption through RPA. From fraud claim discovery and accounting audits to account activation and revenue management, robotic agents are now taking care of all the repetitious tasks. This has led to an exponential increase in productivity and accuracy, leading to massive cost savings.

Customer-Support-Agency
Customer Support Agency

Another market that saw substantial cost savings in its routine processes thanks to the implementation of RPA solutions is that of customer support. Most end-users of a business ask a similar range of questions. This presented a perfect use case for RPA, which now answers all the frequently asked questions by itself, leaving only very specific ones to be handled by humans.

Manufacturing
Manufacturing

Businesses in manufacturing industries heavily use RPA solutions to automate their BOM or Bill of Materials generation. Besides that, RPA also simplifies data migrations for such organizations by executing all the repetitive tasks by itself, with no discontinuities and better accuracy.

Retail
Retail

For retail businesses, RPA simplifies inventory management. These solutions can manage inventory at the point of sale and even automate purchases from manufacturers and wholesalers through IoT. Applications like automated account management, invoice generation, coupon management also come under the purview of Robotic Process Automation.

Recruitment-Consultancy
Recruitment Consultancy

There are many platforms that allow job-seekers to apply for a job with comparative ease. This can lead to an overwhelming number of applications for recruitment panels to sift through. However, with a simple use case of RPA that eliminates applications based on specific keywords, the shortlisting of resumes can be simplified.

Telecom
Telecom

From database management to purchase order management, RPA is used across multiple departments in a telecom operator company reducing overheads at back-office processes. RPAs are also used by the industry to automatically detect network failure in location clusters to solve the problem sooner.

IT
IT

Robotic Process Automation agents are regularly used in IT companies to facilitate regression testing. Usually, such tests involve the same steps to verify the functioning of a feature through different sets of data, hence making an ideal use case for RPA. Other than that, RPA solutions are also commonly used for functional and load testing.

These are but just the major use cases for RPA. More advanced and efficient RPA solutions are being discovered even as we speak of it. All these RPA agents have one or the other kind of specialization that makes them special and fit for their specific role. Let’s learn a little more about these types. 

Types of Robotic Process Automation Agents

RPA takes over repetitive tasks of certain kind and on the basis of pre-set rules execute them. On the basis of the type of task and rules, these software ‘robots’ can be categorized into 4 kinds- Business Tool

System Integration RPA Often businesses with legacy systems function on siloed segments. Automation robots here can be used to integrate these siloes to create a seamless workflow. 
Data Migration RPA  Businesses that deal with lots of data may collect same data at various systems. In the end, this duplicate data can take unnecessary amount of time, in absence of RPA, when migrating to a different platform. 
Event-Based RPA  You can create scripts to automate robot software to function when a pre-scheduled event occurs. This can include sending out greetings whenever there’s a special occasion.
Data Entry RPA Data entry is one of the most tedious tasks you can ask a human to perform. The dedicated data entry RPA, on the other hand, does this job at much better speed, and with improved accuracy. 
Validation RPA  Verifying data on the basis of existing rules is the specialized feature of validation robots. Again, since this task is repetitive in nature a software robot is more capable of doing this with enhanced productivity. 

With these basic robotic software, many of the routine tasks can be automated to create a smooth workflow acros multiple departments of your business.

Is Your Business a Good Candidate for RPA?

In general, if your business has any routine tasks that do not require many cognitive skills, then it is ripe for an RPA-infused growth. That being said, certain other factors can help you decide whether investing in an RPA solution is a good choice of action for your business.

Staff Skillset

 Even though all the SMBs can benefit by investing in RPA solutions, it is important to understand whether your staff has the required skillset to move from traditional processes to automated ones. In case they are not skilled enough, you will have to invest in training them as well.  

Process Consistency

Do the processes you want to automate with RPA have any consistency with them. Meaning, will there be the same sets of steps that can be automated without any human intervention. If that’s the case, then RPA is the right solution for you.

Increasing Employee Dissatisfaction

If your employees are getting exhausted because of the monotony of repetitive tasks, you must consider investing in RPA software. Usually, employees get disgruntled when they do not find enough excitement in their work, leading to suboptimal quality of work. RPA can help you avoid all of that.

Scaling

 If you’re looking to scale your business, introducing automation is one of the best approaches to do that in the most efficient way. There will always be certain tasks in your business that will be repetitive. RPA can take over all these tasks, leaving only those decisions and tasks for your staff that require cognitive abilities. 

So, where do you stand now? Does your organization have the factors that make it ready for an RPA solution? If so, following best practices can help you in getting started soon. 

How to Begin with Robotic Process Automation?

Though it is clear that most organizations, regardless of their size, can benefit by adding RPA solutions, it can be a bit tricky to understand where to begin from. Here we have tried to simplify the entire process for you. 

Prepare the Organization

Introducing an automation model that has the possibility of replacing some jobs can never be easy. This is why you must employ change management in your organization before bringing in the RPA solution. Other than change management, you will also need to train your employees to use the solution. To start, they will need to adopt an SOP in their daily tasks if there isn’t one yet. This will not only simplify the deployment of RPA but will also help in uncovering different bottlenecks to further enhance the efficiency of the system. 

Understand Viability

Before deploying the RPA software, it is important to bring a certain consistency in the processes. The rules for decision-making must be clear. All the different sources the RPA agent needs to communicate with should be readily available. There must be sufficient flexibility to ensure a smooth transition. To ensure all this, you must develop an internal audit to gauge the progress of RPA implementation and its real-time effects.  

Desktop Analytics

Once you have set the stage ready, you can install Desktop Analytics on your team’s systems. This will help monitor users’ interaction with the screen, the clicks, the typing, and navigating through the legacy system. Once you have all the data, you can feed that into your RPA-system to help it make data-driven decisions and find the optimal way of accomplishing a task. Desktop Analytics will also help you find the less frequently used controls on the system so that you can better what kind of flexibility will be required by your RPA system to allow human intervention whenever needed. 

RPA Application Development

With the data you’ve collected in the previous steps, you are now well-equipped to begin developing your RPA application. If your project is going to be of considerable size and you want to reap the benefits of the software sooner, it is best to hire a development team for this step. Hiring a dedicated RPA application development team will make it easier for you to focus on the business aspect of the solution, as the experienced developers do their job to accomplish your goal. 

Pilot Run and Testing

As soon as your RPA is ready with all the best features, you can start your pilot runs. Here, your internal audit team will play an imperative role in finding out the faults and system lags to eliminate the same at the beginning of the project itself. Ideally, you will run pilot projects on all the different modules of your organization, one at a time, to collect all the relevant data with the least variability. 

Deployment

If all the pilot runs go smoothly, you are ready to deploy the entire RPA model to your business. Always ensure that you have a skilled team member working beside the automation solution to ensure zero-fallbacks. Deploying an automation solution is not an easy task. However, with the right team beside you will have an easier time reaching your digitization goals with the company much sooner. This is why it is always suggestible that if your RPA project is of any considerable size, it’s better to take outside help of specialized experts like automation analysts and administrators. 

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Conclusion

Automation is the key enabler for any business that wishes to grow and scale effortlessly. It allows organizations to complete routine tasks without any friction and have more time and resources to solve bigger problems requiring human intelligence. RPA, as an offshoot of IT automation, does that quite efficiently. Once incorporated into your workflow, it will minimize the need for human intervention on various levels, completing the tedious but important tasks at better speed and with greater accuracy. 

But even though it all sounds exciting, big organizations rarely undergo such seismic changes without a hiccup. To make sure that your RPA journey goes smoothly, you’ll need to invest in training your staff and helping them accept the change. You will also need experienced RPA developers to create custom solutions for your business by getting insights from the existing legacy systems. Then there is the migration of data and then eventually a complete transformation of the daily workflow.  

At Matellio, we understand doing this all alone can feel very daunting. And since these Robotic procee automation solutions are so beneficial across the industries and departments, they’re not something to let go of just because of change aversion.  

This is why Matellio offers Robotic Process Automation consultancy to SMBs. With the purpose to strengthen your business to become well-adapt to the wave of automation, we offer assistance at every stage of RPA implementation. Our RPA application developers know how these applications need to perform with the least human intervention and yet be simple enough when customization is required. They have ample experience in doing that and will bring all that expertise when coming on board to help your business sail through this transformational change smoothly.

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