Use virtual workforce to speed time-consuming, repetitive tasks.
Every business knows there are some necessary tasks nobody enjoys doing. Perhaps they take too long, they’re a little boring and repetitive or can be challenging to complete. But they must be done.
What if businesses could automate these processes and know that they’ll be done quickly, efficiently and accurately? Robotic process automation (RPA) might just be the answer.
What Is RPA?
Robotic process automation is a technology used to automate the rules-based processes of the business. Its “digital workers” or “software bots” function as a virtual workforce supporting the front-, middle- and back-office staff in tasks that are repetitive, time consuming, rules based, involving digital data, are prone to error, time-critical and seasonal.
There’s no need for any code, integrations or changes in the underlying systems when using RPA. By creating automation workflows using drag-and-drop visual features, business managers can automate tasks and the digital workers can navigate the existing applications and processes to get the job done.
- Get tasks done quicker. Avoid wasting resources and staffing costs by implementing RPA and getting admin tasks done faster and easier. It allows for streamlining tasks like data entry, email automation, outputting, formatting spreadsheets and more to free up time for more productive work.
- Improve data security. RPA can provide businesses with enhanced data security by eliminating the risk of human error. With an automated workflow in a rules-based system, there’s very little chance of making a mistake.
It can also considerably reduce the time it takes to discover and respond to any security incidents or threats within a business, minimizing the impact of these breaches and improving the overall cybersecurity strategy.
- Enhance financial processes. RPA can help improve financial processes with financial planning, reconciliations and payroll. It can also update inventory records and issue refunds without the need for human touchpoints.
For example, the UK retailer group Shop Direct used RPA to automatically remove late payment charges to customers who had been affected by floods.
For payroll, RPA can extract meaningful information from timesheets and automatically calculate an employee’s pay. It will also conduct the necessary bank transactions and generate payslips automatically. These can be easily factored into more complicated elements such as expenses, bonuses and holiday pay.
- Streamline reporting. Creating reports is a consistently time-consuming task. RPA can help.
By determining parameters related to specific reports, the digital workers can gather the appropriate data and generate the report in less time. They can collect data from different business resources, generate and send reports based on that data and then update data in other systems, such as the business CRM, based on these reports.
Using this automation and these digital workers, an audit trail is also being created to ensure regulatory compliance.
- Onboard with ease. Onboarding for both new employees and new customers has never been easier with RPA. The software bots can extract data from multiple formats, generate mass emails, fill out forms, set appointments or perform contact center functions.
RPA can also help nurture leads, improve sales processes with these features and improve current systems by opening internal tools, installing software or scheduling automated testing.
The Future of RPA
According to Gartner, RPA is the fastest-growing segment of the global software market, growing 10x (10 times over) in the past 1.5 years.
Intelligent automation or cognitive RPA is the next step of this technology. With the implementation of AI, machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) to RPA, these robots can now do tasks that would have otherwise required human intuition, judgment, creativity and problem solving.
The UK train operator Virgin Trains uses this intelligent automation technology to streamline its refund process for late trains. The tool reads, understands and categorizes the critical information in the customer emails, validates the claims and issues a refund.
With technology ever growing in the business space, it’s essential to stay on top of these high-tech solutions. RPA can not only save time, money and reduce overall data security risks, it can also make financial and reporting tasks more efficient so businesses and their employees can focus on the bigger picture.
Hannah Wilson is a marketing executive at PSTG, an IT solutions integration company delivering IT and digital transformation solutions for organisations that want to drive growth, boost productivity and improve security. She has written on cyber security, RPA, virtual collaboration, digital workspaces and cloud transformation.