Robotic Process Automation (RPA) promises to reduce the need for employees. Many administrative tasks are already being replaced by software robots (Bots) in a similar way most factory tasks were replaced by factory robots. According to McKinsey report 35% of the US 8.1Million office and 22% of the 4million customer support workers are likely to be replaced by 2030.
The 180find RPA Solutions Directory identified over 100 vendors large and small who are offering a wide range of RPA solutions. More than 70% are targeting admin/office functions but that is changing. Advancements in AI enable RPA to target more skilled workers such as IT Administration, Marketing and Sales. For example, ai-writer.com is offering software that will write articles automatically and Autobound automates many B2B sales functions.
ROI the Big Question
Estimates of Return On Investments vary. This is to be expected as the impact of RPA depends on the activities to be automated as well as the size and type of a business. Best thing to do is to seek vendor proposals that show how exactly your business can benefit.
- 30% – 200% during first year according to Mckinsey
- 10% – 30% increase in employee productivity according to Forbes
- 352% according to Kryon an RPA vendor
What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) utilizes software robots (Bots) that can replace routine and repetitive tasks normally performed by humans. Key components of RPA include workflow, algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) and bots (software robots) to perform functions.
How does it work?
- Programmable Bots require a step by step definition of rules (workflow) of the tasks to be robotized. The rules are then coded into software routines.
- Intelligent Bots use Machine Learning to learn workflow rules by following a human employee mouse clicks. After a while the bot will “know” what to do. This combined with its ability to interpret current and historical data enables automation of even more complex tasks.
- Bots integrate with ERP/CRM and other management platforms.
- Attended Bots function as personal assistants. An employee can trigger a pre-defined action to be executed by a Bot. For example updating or retrieving customer information in/from all applications while talking to a customer on the phone.
- Unattended Bots execute pre-defined workflows that are triggered automatically such as by schedule or event. For example producing a weekly status report which requires pulling data from various sources.
Key RPA benefits
- Efficiency and cost savings: Replacing humans in performing repetitive tasks is the major benefit. Bots work 7/24.
- Reduction of errors: Repetitive tasks can bore humans which can result in errors, Bots eliminate this problem.
- Scalability: Can add more Bots quickly
- RPA isn’t always a solution: processes that are not well defined or broken cannot benefit from RPA. Also, tasks that change over time and require adaptation may not be automated even with Intelligent Bots.
Common Use Cases
- Invoice Processing
- Employee/Customer on-boarding
- Sales Orders
- Patient registration
- Accounting Reconciliation
- Resume screening
- ERP Data Entry
- Bill of Lading or Materials creation
- Service order processing
- Ticket booking
- Credit/Debit card activation
- Payroll processing
Will RPA work for You?
There is no straight answer. The best thing to do is to get few vendor proposals with answers to key questions such as:
- How exactly will they address your specific needs?
- How will it be deployed?
- How long it will take to deploy?
- How complex is maintenance?
- What’s the cost?
- What savings to expect?