There are only a few terms so intimidating in the business world as “robotic process automation (RPA).” But despite its fearsome name, RPA is a beneficial tool for businesses looking to save time and money. In this article, we’ll explain RPA, how it works, why you want it in your business, and even how to start using it. So stay tuned!
What Is Robotic Process Automation?
RPA is a software technology that can automate manual, repetitive tasks. It is typically deployed to reduce the need for human intervention in executing specific business processes.
RPA is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), which aims to enable machines to mimic human behavior and improve decision-making capabilities through learning from experience. The idea behind RPA is that computers are given access to an organization’s data and then allowed to complete defined tasks without any further input from humans once they have been given instructions on how these tasks should be completed.
How Does Robotic Process Automation Work?
RPA uses software to automate manual processes that people do. The RPA bots can be virtual or physical, programmed to run repetitive tasks or the ones that require human interaction and judgment, respectively.
How to Implement Robotic Process Automation
There are several ways to implement RPA, each with its pros and cons. You can implement RPA as a software-as-a-service (SaaS), on-premise, or hybrid solution.
- SaaS: This is the most popular way to implement RPA. The software provider will take care of installing and maintaining it for you. You typically pay per user per month, but other fees may also be associated, such as hosting costs or training fees if needed. In addition, some providers offer a free trial, so you can try out their platform before committing yourself long term.
- On-premise: In this case, the company buying RPA installs its own hardware and licenses at its premises instead of having an external provider manage it remotely via internet connection or other means, such as cloud computing infrastructure that allows access from anywhere in the world through any devices.
- Hybrid: As the name gives out, hybrid RPA solutions are deployed and accessed from the cloud and the premises. In this case, the vendor and the business can manage the solution.
While these were a few ways, it’s also essential to know the steps to implement RPA. The first thing to know is that while you can have an in-house team to implement RPA, it is always advised to seek help from a managed IT Service provider.
These firms can help you throughout the implementation steps to ensure a higher success rate. They can also help make better decisions since they have the right expertise and knowledge about the market trends. Hence, it is best to learn more about the services provided by a vendor and choose someone to help you with RPA implementation.
Whether you choose a managed IT services provider or hire an in-house team, here are the steps you need to take while implementing an RPA solution for your business.
Define Your Objectives
A key and the first step to implementing RPA is defining your objectives.
Do you want to automate specific processes? Do you want to free up your employees’ time so that they can focus on more important tasks? Do you want to improve the quality of your product or service? Or do you want to increase productivity?
You must identify what you want from the RPA solution and ensure your team understands those goals.
Once you’ve decided on the objectives, it’s time to start thinking about use cases in your business. For example, if one goal is increasing productivity and reducing costs, how can RPA help with that? You may decide that automating data entry tasks would be a good use case for an RPA solution because it would reduce costs and increase productivity by freeing up employees’ time for more critical work.
Establishing a governance committee is the first step to ensuring that RPA is implemented successfully. The committee should be composed of representatives from various departments in the organization and will oversee the implementation, standardization, and ongoing use of RPA.
The following items should be defined when setting up your governance committee:
- Responsibilities: A process needs to be established so that everyone knows their responsibilities regarding implementing RPA. This can include defining roles for each member and how often they will meet (for example, monthly or quarterly).
- Membership: Who will serve on this committee? What skills do they bring to the table? Who has decision-making authority over specific issues around automation? What additional resources might be needed if specific departments are included (i.e., IT)? This can help you determine who needs to be involved during the initial setup and going forward so that everyone stays informed about current projects and general developments related to RPA.
- Terms of reference (TOR): A TOR outlines how meetings will be conducted, including meeting frequency/duration/location, who chairs each meeting, how agendas are developed before meetings, how decisions are recorded after each meeting, etc.
Design the Implementation
After completing the discovery and analysis phases, you can begin to design your RPA solution. To start, define the problem or business process you wish to automate. Then, understand the customer’s needs by understanding their business environment and processes. Next, it is essential to understand their technical environment and the resources available for implementing RPA. Finally, identify any business rules that need to be adhered to implement RPA successfully (e.g., data quality requirements).
Build and Run the Solution
Once the design is ready, the next step is to bring it to life. Start working on the design and coding the RPA solution accordingly. Once the coding is ready, you need to feed it with relevant data.
Your RPA solution will be only as good as the data you feed in. Hence, ensure that the data is clean and relevant for the RPA solution to learn to carry out the process without human intervention.
Your task doesn’t end with implementing the RPA solution. Once installed and implemented, you must monitor how it works and make improvements. To constantly improve, closely monitor how the RPA solution works and keep feeding in new data for the solution to learn from.
Use Cases of Robotic Process Automation
RPA is used to automate tasks that are repetitive, rule-based, and predictable. This can include data entry to more complex processes, such as completing a purchase order or updating customer records.
RPA helps organizations streamline existing processes and improve efficiency by reducing the manual effort required for repetitive tasks by up to 90 percent. It also increases productivity by enabling employees to focus on higher-value projects that require human skills—like strategic decision making—rather than basic transactional activities. By improving process automation through RPA, companies can reduce costs and increase productivity while improving customer service and satisfaction!
To sum up, RPA is a form of software built to automate repetitive tasks, and it can be used in many industries. While you can implement it with an in-house team by following the steps mentioned in this article, it is always wise to seek professional help from a managed IT service provider.