Robotic process automation is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots or on artificial intelligence /digital workers. It is sometimes referred to as software robotics.
Different types of robots:
These are usually programmed by software developers themselves. Programmatic robots are usually easy to design and create and they do not require much time to be fully functional. The downside to these however is the difficulty often experienced in designing them.
These are what most corporate leaders would usually refer to as automation software with “specialized” softwares for each individual business process. Typically, these process robots are designed and coded looking at how the actual business process works. The idea behind cobots is rarely to automate an entire business process but, rather, to automate the process simply by making sure that the robot knows the information it will need to perform the job.
Business Process Robotics
These are intelligent apps that are pre-assembled, pre-programmed and ready to be used. These have AI functionality that allows them to learn about their processes and self-evolve. This, however, requires that users work closely with the app designers to inform the robot about the simple-to-complex business process that it will be handling.
RPA and Artificial Intelligence
RPA is already significantly advanced on both virtual and physical levels. In fact, there are robots that can already provide accurate solutions to complex issues when partnered with advanced AI software. There are behavior-based RPA and cognitive robots that, despite still being in their early stages, can do helpful things in limited areas.
The Problems with RPA:
RPA is not perfect, far from it. There continue to be many organizations that have used the technology in the wrong way and, in some cases, they might have even used it inappropriately.
For some, RPA was just another method of performing practical tasks like designing, document formatting, mail merging and data sorting. While this is possible with using RPA, this is not its only use. Another fault is that, in an effort to not upload sensitive information, some organizations have done just the opposite. Rather than keep data internal, some of them may have added up to 20 or more “passwords” to a single file. As a result, because of this, employees may not have changed the “password” for a long time making it easy for hackers to access the file.
Some have also failed to undertake the necessary security and authentication considerations which, if not well-handled, may lead to the robot becoming vulnerable to external attacks. In some cases, hackers may simply disable the robot, thereby making it impossible to do its job and, at worst, they may also be able to access other important data in the system.
The Future of RPA
RPA is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. Along with the advancement of AI, it will keep implementing new technologies, sometimes to automate a process, sometimes to replicate the workings of a human brain and other times to achieve more complex tasks consisting of both human and machine capacities.
RPA complies with intellectual property rights, patents and certificates. And yet, new internal documentation is required to make sure that it is being used in the right way. Proper training is also needed for automation engineers treading the robotic process automation. This applies not only in the beginning stages of deployment but also in the long term.
One way of doing this is by using business process simulation software to help in clarifying even the most difficult concepts especially when it comes to the actual impact of automated software on the entire process. And while there may be instances when this is not possible, there is no denying that this can do a lot of help in easier communication and in clarifying the results and ongoing impact of RPA.
The Future of RPA and AI
The help of machine learning or analytics ai network will further enhance how this technology is used. Classic robots need to be programmed to do specific tasks. However, it is becoming more likely that robots can be trained and then supervised. This would make the whole process easier for humans and robots will not only be able to do tasks on their own, they will also constantly improve by recording and analyzing their activities.
Robotic Process Automation Implementation
The idea behind robotic process automation is to simplify the process of repetitive, time-consuming and tedious work which would otherwise be hard to automate physically. By integrating the business process into software algorithms, it is possible to automate processes that involve interaction with the entire organization thus improving on efficiency and delivering better outcomes.
Robotic process automation has been around since the 1980s and has been perfected with the help of more advanced software technology. It is believed to be revolutionizing the workplace by contributing to companies’ profits and their ability to keep up with the need for consistent growth.
Companies that have adopted it are already enjoying the following benefits:
· High-value and repetitive tasks are automated, ultimately allowing employees to focus on value-adding tasks.
· Results are produced as fast if not faster than with traditional ways.
· Schedules are more accurate.
· Training and productivity are both improved.
· There is a reduction in the number of mistakes and people lose time.
· Employees may be able to take on more demanding and higher paying jobs.
Robotic process automation is now being used by many organizations in many different fields including but not limited to BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), IT, healthcare, retail, consulting, insurance, legal and others. According to estimates, this technology is set to increase by 20% in 2019.
The Origin of Robotic Automation
Robotic process automation is a subset of automation and AI is itself a subset of RPA. For this reason, the word Artificial Intelligence is used interchangeably with the term robotic process automation in many discussions.
While artificial intelligence and RPA have been defined by different people over the years, it is now generally defined as an application of software robotics in which technology is used in processes that include decision-making and interaction between a human and a machine.
RPA has also been shown to be very useful for businesses and some of the areas that it can play a significant role include:
· Information Technology
· Management Consulting
· Payroll Processing
· Order Processing
· Legal Services
· Human Resources Consulting
· Human Resources Management
Implementation of RPA – What You Need to Know
There are different ways to implement RPA software. Different organizations usually choose to use different approaches which often depends on the type of business they are in, the cost of the software and the nature of the tasks they have chosen to automate.
The choice of approach outlined below can used singularly or in combination with others depending on the goals of the organization and the process.
Utilize a Hybrid Approach
With this approach, the organization may choose to use a single robot or human-guided software solution. For some, it may not be possible to make all tasks completely automated. In this case, the best solution is to decide which tasks are better suited to be automated and delegate to a robot, while the others will continue to be done by humans. The robot will be responsible for the most repetitive and tedious tasks and the human resource will be assigned to the more complex or value-adding tasks. The end result is a reduced workload for the human and an ability to concentrate on tasks that are more complex or that require more higher-order thought. This can lead to better productivity.
Maintain an Automated Systems Database
Some companies work with a few or a group of robots and then keep a database of automated tasks. When one robot completes certain tasks, the system will automatically update the data for all robots so that they can take over seamlessly without slowing down. This allows for better and more consistent automation with no hiccups along the way. You can try this with a handful of robot, tentatively, and monitor to see whether you have any issues. As you begin to see how well it works, you can increase the number of robots. As you work with a larger number of robots, you should begin to benefit from your RPA investment.
Look to Automate Everywhere
If you have a large number of tasks that lead to repetitive work and processes, you can look to apply RPA to them. Automation can make these tasks very efficient and easy such that the repetition is built into the system. You should make sure that the entire process is consistent. If you have set this up for one person or one department, then make sure that it is set up in the same way for every person who does a similar type of work.
Start with the Most Expensive Processes
RPA can help to drive insights and efficiency which can help to save money and increase the profits of the company. In some cases, it might make sense to start in the most critical areas and work outward to other areas. In other organizations, however, it might make more sense to start with less critical steps and then move to areas that are more critical as you begin to see how well things are working. The best way to plan out which processes will be automated is to look for the ones that make the most money and those that are the most costly. In some cases, there is no way to decide which processes can be automated first since they are all related to each other. You will need to decide whether to start with risks that are high up in the organization or techniques that are essential for success. Once you have decided which process to work on first, then you can move from there to other areas.
Start with Complex and Risky Processes
Some processes may need to be automated first because they are either high risk or high cost. For instance, if you are dealing with a financial industry you may have to look at insurance claims processing first. If you are dealing with healthcare, you may have to look at how you handle patient databases and documents. The first step here is to identify processes that are risky first. The second step is to identify those that are complex and keep these as targets for automation.
Benefits and Challenges of RPA Implementation
There are many benefits of RPA software and the most significant one is that it makes the environment better for the employee and saves them time and money. There are also challenges to implement RPA which may include:
Challenges of RPA Implementation
· Getting employees to embrace it
· Getting employees to support and participate in it
· Cost of RPA software
· Learning time
These challenges are all valid but once they are understood and addressed, there are fewer challenges. The most important benefit of adoption of RPA is one that has already been mentioned – it is easier on the employee.
RPA software makes work easier and less stressful. This means that employees will have more time to do things they enjoy. It also makes employees more efficient and productive. The amount of time they save doing work they are not good at will help them to move up and concentrate on tasks that they are good at.
Businesses that have implemented RPA are seeing improved productivity. RPA makes it easier to work with data, enabling people to extract as much value from it as possible. It frees employees up from doing unwanted repetition in their work.
RPA frees employees up for higher tasks and positions to do more complex tasks. The goal is to create a better work environment and a better system. This is the primary goal of those who are looking to implement RPA. It takes time and understanding to achieve this.
One of the most important parts of implementing RPA involves getting employees on board. If your employees do not feel supported, this can spell disaster. You essentially have to train them and show them the improvement and benefits. You cannot just implement it on them and expect them to work with it. You need to understand how much structure and how much freedom the employees require when working with the system. It is important that you get buy-in from the employees in order to see success with your RPA system. The most important thing will be to explain the benefits and to make them want to be an active participant with the system.
Another challenge is the cost of RPA software. It is extremely important to look for software that is affordable and will fit into your budget. It is also important to research and find software that best fits your needs. You should select the right type of RPA software based on the tasks you are looking to automate. You should also select a software provider that is flexible and works with clients at a more personal level. They should be willing to work with you throughout the process and teach you how to use best the software and how it works.
Another approach is to select a bare bones RPA software and then build on it to make it into the appropriate format you need. You can then look for tools and systems which can be added on to the RPA system to help with various administrative tasks.
RPA is in the process of being implemented, with organizations being conservative about how they do this and make sure that they do not eliminate too many employees and are still able to lead to the company achieving its goals and objectives leading up to this.
RPA is something that you should get on board with quickly so that you are able to start enjoying the benefits and seeing the rewards it has to offer. Before you do though, ensure that you do your research, read up and look for the right software, and then be sure to implement it in the right way.
RPA has been referred to as the silver bullet for automation and it indeed has been showing executives that it is all that it was said be to. It will make a big difference to your business and it will help to make things work just as you want them to.