Robotic Process Automation – Prerequisites, Business Impact & Use Cases
RPA or Robotic Process Automation refers to the practice of automating routine human tasks like keyboard inputs, mouse clicks and taking input from the screen with the help of a robot. It releases humans from doing the repetitive tasks, hence freeing them to work on more specialized work which requires human interaction, decision-making and creativity. RPA helps create robots which can imitate human actions on a computer.
RPA makes use of the concept of AI or Artificial Intelligence to enable machines to work according to the IT needs. The robots can mimic human actions, are faster, accurate and much more efficient than humans.
- RPA can seamlessly integrate with the existing IT system.
- It can take input, process data and output results in a structured format.
- RPA frees humans from mundane tasks making them more productive.
- RPA tools like UiPath do not require heavy coding and can be easily used by non-programmers as well.
- It is faster and less error-prone.
- It is easy to implement as well as scalable.
- It can work at the same efficiency 24×7 without breaks.
An important thing to note here is that RPA does not involve creating human-like robots and replacing humans completely! Instead, RPA is about automating the boring, repetitive and time-consuming tasks thus leading to better efficiency and utilisation of time.
A relevant example of RPA would be automating the tedious process of checking the official website for Covid-19 Vaccination for available slots every day and night. We can simply automate the process once using RPA techniques, run the robot and let it work. It would repeatedly check the website for available vaccination slots based on the data you have entered (Ex; Pincode, Age, etc). Once it finds a free slot, it can trigger a notification to your mobile or e-mail as you choose. Going a step forward, you can even program it to select the nearest slot and book it for you!
Please take care not to exploit the website with a lot of requests and ensure you have the permission to use the required APIs 🙂
How RPA helps Businesses?
- Increased Productivity –
RPA robots are faster and more efficient than their human counterparts. Increased execution speed leads to smoother operations and better productivity among humans for the more specialised tasks.
- Improved Accuracy –
Humans are prone to error and lack precision. Instead, robots work according to a set of predefined rules, hence eliminating the chance of errors.
- Better Compliance –
As mentioned in the previous point, robots stick to the predefined process leading to better compliance and governance. Their actions are controlled and supervised based on the rules set by us, hence we can rely on the fact that their work would be more transparent and compliant.
- Reduced Cost –
Efficient and faster robots lead to reduced costs and better utilization of resources.
- Scalability –
Companies can easily scale the roots up or down based on their requirements. Robots can be deployed at minimal costs as and when required without affecting the quality of work.
We have talked about automating the daily processes and using robots to do the tasks instead. Does that mean we do not require the human taskforce anymore? Can we use RPA robots for every task we have got?
The answer to both the questions is No! For a process to be able to be automated, it should fulfill certain criteria. Not all processes can suitably be automated using RPA. A process must be simple to define, well-structured and easy to mimic to be automated using RPA.
Requirements of an Automated Process :
- Repetitive –
The process must be repetitive and iterative to be a good candidate for automation. Automation speeds up the execution process and increases productivity. But there is no point spending 2-3 hours automating a process which needs to be done only once and takes only minutes to be done manually!
- Rule- based -|
A rule- based process means that it does not undergo a lot of changes at every iteration. Hence, it can easily be translated into a set of rules that can be followed by an RPA robot.
- Structured –
The process should be well-defined and structured so that the automation is easy to perform.
Finally, let us talk about some use cases where RPA can be used to communicate with IT systems and help businesses flourish in terms of speed, efficiency and productivity, leading to better experience to the end- users.
Use Cases :
- Payroll Processing –
RPA can check the consistency of employee data, validate time sheets, calculate bonuses and deductions for every employee and automate the calculation of paychecks and compensations.
- Sales Order –
Robots can perform activities like entry of sales order, generating invoices, checking inventory, etc and maintain a full-fledged sales database by themselves.
- Create / Update Client Data –
RPA can be used to create / update client information in the central database based on the information received through forms or other sources. They can also be configured to send out automated confirmation e-mails to the clients once their data has been updated.