This blog will help you understand how RPA works and how it can maximise your business and lower your costs at the same time!

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic Process Automation or RPA for short – is the latest technological development set on making mundane and repetitive chores a thing of the past! RPA can increase business productivity whilst simultaneously decreasing workforce hours spent on tedious, boring and repetitive jobs.

How does this look like in your business?

Picture your administration floor with five, ten or more employees doing exactly the same tasks all day every day such as structured reports, emails, CRM and other rule-based tasks. This can be costly, time-consuming, dull and prone to inaccuracy. Now imagine these everyday jobs being executed by software robots. Your processes are much faster and more accurate, leaving humans to do the more complex jobs that can benefit from the power of the human brain!

How robotic process automation works?

Robotic process automation works by developing software robots that mimic the actions as if humans were undertaking it. This is achieved through the user interface or UI of an application, website or operating system whereby the software robot can simulate user inputs such as clicking, scrolling and typing.

RPA tools also have a wide range of APIs to bypass the UI interaction that a human would have to go through to access an application function. Some common examples of this are sending Outlook emails and reading Excel Spreadsheets – these only require the bare minimum input such as recipient, subject and body, of the file path, sheet name and range. It is these APIs that make RPA such a valuable and far-reaching tool.

In the future, RPA will start to take more advantage of artificial intelligence. This means it will be able to learn from past events and use that knowledge to do things differently moving forward. This will be advantageous in processes that sometimes need to be adapted for special cases.

So how to get started with Robotic Process Automation?

    1. Prime Candidates for automation are those processes that are extremely repetitive and rule-based (i.e. if this, then do that), and they can be found in almost every department in every industry.
       

    2. Once a suitable process is chosen, a Process Design Document (PDD) is created to describe the process in detail. This should be in enough detail that from this document alone, anyone should be able to carry out the task.
       

    3. Once the PDD is agreed upon, solution design and robotic architecture are created along with the development testing environment whereby the developers can begin to automate the desired processes, tasks and actions.
       

    4. How to create the automation will depend on the RPA product you use, but the current biggest players in the space make some of the development simpler by providing a comprehensive library of readymade components which help to decrease the amount of code needed. Larger builds will require in-depth knowledge in programming, with proficiency in languages such as .NET.
       

    5. After the Automation, the developer will unit test the build ensuring any bugs that may arise are handled appropriately, whilst checking that the expected results match the actual results given.
       

    6. With initial monitoring to ensure reliability, the project is deployed and continued support is given by the development team to make alterations and ensure ongoing performance.

    Conclusion

    Eliminating repetitive tasks, increasing productivity and increasing accuracy, RPA  is a welcomed disruptive technology. According to HFS Research, they found that our of the top 1000 Forbes, 36% of business managers are either piloting or implementing an RPA project in their organisations. With recent large investments into RPA platforms and innovations in cognitive RPA with AI insight, the future of RPA has the potential to remove the robot out of the human.