“Everything that can be automated will be automated.” Robert Cannon – Internet Law & Policy Expert
As business processes become more critical, they also demand greater interrelations for better productivity, efficiency and business outcomes. These developments in the processes also increase the degree of complexity in process management as the flow of information between the invested stakeholders of the process also has to increase. In order to address this complexity, organizations across the globe have been leveraging business process automation. They automate repeatable operational elements in order to increase organizational efficiency, improve resource utilization, aid innovation, reduce time to market and deliver high-quality products and services.
Business Process Automation (BPA) has been in use in the enterprise in the form of automated workflows and dashboards for some time now. The focus has been to improve communication and conversations between teams, enforce greater accountability, minimize the number of human errors and foster a system of collaboration. All of which can have a positive impact on the company bottom line.
Today, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as the smarter extension of Business Process Automation by employing tools and technologies that make BPA more scalable. Can the terms be used interchangeably? While both RPA and BPA aim to introduce automation to business process, they are quite different from one another. Unlike BPA, RPA software leverages the power of the software. It uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities to perform high volume tasks with greater efficiency.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
The robots used in Robotic Process Automation are nothing like the mechanical robots of the future that we are used to seeing in sci-fi movies. RPA employs the use of software robots to automate business activities that are high-volume and repeatable. RPA software has the capability to mimic human actions and complete high-volume tasks faster with complete precision. These bots can speed up processes by linking applications together and eliminating small errors that can have a big overall impact. They can do so without impacting the underlying systems. What mainly distinguishes RPA from traditional BPA is that the RPA software has the capability to adapt to changing circumstances, situations and exceptions. Once “trained” to capture and interpret actions of a particular process, RPA software can then manipulate data, trigger and initiate new responses and also communicate with other systems in an autonomous manner. This level of automation greatly helps those organizations who have several complicated systems that demand fluid interaction. By doing so, the RPA software releases knowledge workers from focusing on repeatable tasks and gives them the opportunity to focus on other core activities.
Along with this, there is the added cost benefit of leveraging Robotic Process Automation. According to NASSCOM, with RPA implementation companies can look at a “cost reduction of 35-65 percent for onshore process operations and 10-30 percent in offshore delivery…[and] an investment recovery period as short as 6-9 months…”. A report by Deloitte states that an RPA bot can capably perform a list of more than 600 actions in a given sequence and in a consistent manner. This has a direct productivity impact and a positive influence on the company bottom line.
The focus of Robotic Process Automation is to improve the efficiency of the process and not to transform it. It focuses on mimicking those activities that were previously performed manually and eliminates the dangers of manual errors and inconsistent experiences. Thus, RPA is best suited for processes that are rule-based, structured, repeatable, large in volume, and involve a great deal of complex interaction between different systems and applications.
Along with achieving higher quality, RPA also provides greater transparency since these processes can be tracked better with real-time status information. This leads to better decision making and removes the need for guesstimates when making critical decisions.
Since the nature of work has changed, the methods of implementing automation should change too. Robotic Process Automation is as important for digital transformation as machines were to the Industrial Revolution. RPA helps in running business processes in a more intelligent manner by allowing the processes to cut across IT systems and help them talk to one another. RPA environments are built in a flexible manner that also allows the robots to be switched between environments which provides businesses the advantage of scalability.
Those organizations looking to leverage Robotic Process Automation should ideally take a structured and systematic approach to it. They must consider the opportunities for RPA automation by identifying the right candidates and assess if the initiative will support the business needs. They must determine the metrics to assess if RPA is providing the value it promises, identify the right operating model and also the team to support the solution. That done, finally they can plan the Robotic Process Automation roadmap with precision and have a strategy to scale in place. Once RPA is in place, that’s the time to sit back and enjoy the benefits that this automation delivers to the enterprise.