Valuable time is lost in many organizations because automation is on the back burner and many employees are busy every day with repetitive, mind-numbing and error-prone tasks. Activities that often add little value to the business and the services a company provides.
Fortunately, modern technology offers a helping hand. Robotic process automation (RPA) enables you to automate repetitive tasks and thus organize processes more efficiently. But what is RPA? And what can you specifically do with it? Read on to find out.
What is RPA?
For many people, the concept of robotization conjures up images of walking steel colossus that eventually even replace humans. However, RPA has nothing to do with the robots that haunt “Star Wars” or “The Terminator.” The technology uses invisible software robots integrated into the IT network that relieve people of repetitive and boring tasks.
They actually function as interfaces that continuously and error-free automate activities that do not require specific human action knowledge. For a task such as entering data in a portal or application, the software robot does the same as the human behind the computer in the old situation.
RPA software robots fall into two main categories:
- Self-contained (“unattended”) software robots are ideal for back-office work that involves collecting, processing, sorting and forwarding information. You can activate this type of robot based on a specific event or process, but also through a time schedule. It is also possible to set up an unattended software robot in such a way that it automatically forwards deviations to a flesh-and-blood employee.
- Supervised software robots support employees in their daily work. Humans and software robots work closely together. This form of RPA is very useful in work environments such as call centers, help desks and customer services. For example, consider a robot that records information during a live customer conversation. Or an RPA application that retrieves data in one application and transfers it to another.
How can it be used?
RPA is a great way to extensively automate simple work within your organization. Merge data from multiple data sources? Make calculations? Draw if-then scenarios? Extract and move data from documents and applications? Or send emails automatically and generate an automatic response to emails? With RPA, all these tasks and processes are possible with a minimum of human intervention.
We also see that RPA technology is becoming more adaptive. The latest generation of software robots is increasingly able to perform actions based on unstructured information. In addition, the digital assistants 2.0 can often make adaptive decisions based on the information provided by humans or other systems. Consider, for example, a software robot that determines what type of response is needed based on the tone and content of an email.
What is the added value of RPA? The advantages
Now that we know more about the technological and functional side of software robots, it is time to look at what RPA actually delivers to an organization.
Lower operating costs
RPA offers excellent opportunities for reducing operational costs. Software robots are cheaper than human labor and save your employees from wasting time on repetitive tasks. Thanks to RPA, your people can fully focus on the tasks that add real value to your business. In addition, software robots are operational 24/7 and operate at a continuously high pace. Achieving the same availability with only a human workforce is almost impossible to achieve and extremely expensive.
More control over processes
Software robots generate logs of the tasks they perform. By analyzing that data, it becomes easier to gain insight into processes. The result? More control and easier management of process improvement.
Speed and flexibility
RPA is quick to implement. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can often start using software robots within a few days. Moreover, you do not have to overhaul existing IT systems. Robots are also perfectly able to move with peak periods, making it much easier for organizations to anticipate growing demand from the market.
Many software robots consist of (partly) reusable components. This makes it relatively easy to build a new robot based on existing digital parts. This saves time and ensures that RPA is easily adaptable to current needs.
More focus on the customer
Thanks to RPA, employees have more time to focus on tasks and services that provide direct added value for the customer. Think, for example, of solving complex issues or problems that require a human touch. Improved customer experiences and customer journeys are good for your reputation and brand identity.
Do you want to apply RPA? INTERMEDIATE can help
RPA can mean a lot for companies that want to optimize their processes and strive for more value creation and job satisfaction. However, there is also sometimes skepticism. Doesn’t RPA cause robots to phase out humans in the long run? That is not the case. RPA is not aimed at replacing people, but at relieving employees. The robots fulfill a supporting role that gives employees of flesh and blood the opportunity to fully focus on more complex, value-adding tasks that are less suitable for automation.
Would you like to get to know RPA? And do you want to know which processes within your organization qualify for this form of automation? Then INTERMEDIATE will be happy to help you. As a recognized IT and business consultant, we are happy to help you explore the possibilities. Thanks to our network of interim professionals, we also effortlessly put you in touch with an RPA specialist.
Would like to know more? Or make an appointment with a professional consultant? Please feel free to contact us by calling +31 (0)611 662 797 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also fill in the contact form on our website.
This blog was written by Frank Heinen in collaboration with Remco Spruyt.