When it comes to process automation, as the name suggests, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) takes it a step further than solutions such as BPM, Workflow, or Case Management.
Indeed, with RPA, it is a question of automating business processes via robots, also called "bots," to eliminate the repetitive tasks, with low added value and tedious, common to all sectors of activity.
The potentials of RPA are numerous:
Streamlining of daily tasks
Improving performance and productivity
Enhancing know-how and human expertise within the company
Beyond the productivity benefit, the elimination of repetitive tasks contributes to better employee satisfaction and fulfillment, allowing them to focus on value-added activities within the company.
Now mature, this robotic succession is all the more timely in a context where bureaucratic tasks increase in proportion to data, technological innovations, and their appropriation within companies through their digital transformation.
So what is RPA for? What activities does it apply to? What are its opportunities, and for what benefits for the company?
Entering basic information in forms, copying and pasting this information in several software packages are all administrative tasks that take much time. Repetitive and laborious, these tasks, now anchored in the company's digital activity, are all the more subject to "human error," typos, inaccuracies, and typing in the wrong places.
The fundamental goal of RPA is, therefore, to automate manual, tedious, and bulky tasks, such as data entry or information retrieval. Thus, the robot software reproduces human interventions, thanks to the processing of data produced in quantity.
Therefore, the concept of RPA is to replace human intervention, with the risks of errors and the loss of time that it implies, by robots.
Robots are software that operates automatically and autonomously on employees' workstations and company servers or in the back office.
By being predefined with precision and automated, these business processes are accomplished in an ultra-responsive way and with precision by software robots.
In short: RPA automates manual and tedious tasks, such as data entry or information retrieval, in large volumes.
Owing to the processing of data produced in quantity, the software solution that is RPA reproduces human interventions, assuring speed, accuracy, and permanent availability in accomplishing these tasks for the benefit of business productivity.
What activities are involved within the company?
The tasks involved have in common that they are predictable, repetitive, and present in high volume, mainly through increased company data.
These tasks are typically performed manually and are time-consuming.
Some application cases can be cited in different sectors: automatic responses to an e-mail, processing of customer orders, processing of requests by e-mail, processing of salaries, updates of customer profiles, processing of exceptions, payment litigation, patient registration, verification of supplier identification information, processing of customer orders.
RPA facilitates the interaction between systems by using software robots, which perform actions such as copying and pasting data between screens, typing, clicking, opening, and closing applications and dialogs. Each of these actions is monitored and recorded in an audit report.
The robot performs the clicks or the entry and processing of information with a speed and relevance unmatched by any human intervention.
The Gartner firm thus defines RPA in its dedicated survey dated 2020:
"Robotic process automation (RPA) typically uses a combination of user interface (UI) and API interactions to integrate and perform data transcription jobs between different business and productivity applications. RPA automates repetitive human tasks by emulating the same human transaction steps primarily through orchestrated user interface interactions. "
In short and at a minimum, the robot clicks and enters the information for the employee.
For example, when a banker onboard a new customer, they will no longer need to enter a quantity of information about that customer in various software databases or information systems.
He will no longer have to switch from one system to another or duplicate the same information from one screen to another. Once the basic information has been entered, the robot will feed all the information in its integrity and the necessary locations. The robot, therefore, assists the banker, who can then spend time advising his client rather than completing these successive entries.
Business processes are automated and accelerated for the benefit of the employee, the customer, and the business in general.
What are the opportunities for the company?
The opportunity also lies in valuing human expertise. Human intervention can therefore focus on the relationship with the customer and on exceptions and activities with high added value, which do not fall within the framework of routine and repetitive tasks of the company.
Benefits we can cite, among others:
Reduced execution times
Reduction or even elimination of manual errors
Promotion of human know-how and expertise
Improving the quality of business processes and work in general
Improved quality of service
Automation of interactions between business applications
Resolving compliance and audit issues
Traceability of each action during a process
Speed of development and adaptation to the IS
RPA deals with simple tasks that obey predefined rules that the "robot" follows. No notions of understanding or simulation of human intelligence are involved.
On the contrary, artificial intelligence is related to human knowledge. Through contextualization, AI can process the cognitive attributes specific to humans, such as language, interpretation, and judgment. It remains to be seen whether RPA is the first step in the transition to implementing artificial intelligence in companies (Machine Learning).
In all cases, the RPA is intended to assist employees in accomplishing the most repetitive, lapped, and tedious tasks of the company, those which obstruct its performance and the quality of the work provided, as well as to the satisfaction of its employees.