In the Summer of 2020, the pharmaceutical company, Takeda, faced a challenge.
Takeda was running a clinical trial of potential Covid-19 treatments. Most clinical trials face a recruitment phase that takes up to two months as recruiters need to:
- Identify potential participants
- Gather their contact information
- Vet them for suitability
- Fill out the correct paperwork
Covid-19 was changing fast, and Takeda needed to speed up recruitment by a significantly increased margin.
So, the pharmaceutical company implemented a new, time-saving innovation: robotic process automation (RPA). For Takeda, RPA benefits involved completely automating recruitment tasks, which included:
- Opening files
- Selecting input fields
- Cutting and pasting text
- Saving, sending, and organizing documents
- Messaging recruitment leads
Takeda’s pilot study of RPA had phenomenal results. The company estimated it could automate 4.6 million hours of office work tasks per year—freeing up its employees to do the work they actually enjoy.
Today, RPA is poised to become the next step in the digital transformation revolution. But what does that mean for your workplace?
This guide aims to answer that question. Join us to learn the answers to your most pressing questions about RPA. Then, learn about ten well-established benefits RPA could offer to your office.
Robotic Processing Automation: Overview
Robotic processing automation—or, RPA—is a programmable automation software application. RPA makes it easy for a person to build virtual robots that emulate human actions.
This makes it an incredibly adaptable business operation technology.
Once you create them, the virtual robots can emulate the way you interact with digital systems and software. They can even learn to mimic keystrokes and the most minute details of tasks.
After the virtual robots are trained, you can deploy them to carry out office tasks. They do them at higher speeds, and with greater accuracy than humans can.
How Does RPA Work?
RPA applications utilize virtual machine technology. This lets them replicate the functionality of a physical computer using the software on a different computer.
Pure RPA doesn’t typically use machine learning. Instead, the user must give the robot specific instructions for each task it must execute. These instructions tell the robot exactly what to do and when to do it.
The software environment typically includes a studio wherein you can build your bot and an orchestrator. The orchestrator is a virtual control room where a manager can:
- Coordinate bots
- Integrate bots workflows
- Schedule the robots’ tasks
- Monitor the performance of the bot
The most advanced RPA systems integrate machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These are capable of “process mining.” Process mining records and analyzes workflows automatically. With the recorded information, the software application creates new templates for RPA, and templates can further streamline these processes.
While RPA seems completely autonomous, a human element is still required as human users must be involved in the description of tasks, known as process analysis.
What Are the Business Benefits of RPA? (Summary)
There are many business benefits of RPA. All RPA benefits can be distilled down in three ways:
- To increase efficiency
- To increase revenue growth (including decreasing costs)
- To improve employees’ job satisfaction
RPA systems can facilitate each of these improvements through multiple functions. Mastering all functions of RPA lets a company take advantage of the technology’s full potential.
Why is RPA Transformative?
RPA is a key technology driving digital transformation forward. Digital transformation is the process of integrating connected, computing technology into all facets of a business.
Complete digital integration shifts how businesses can reach their goals; it enables far greater goals than they’d pre-supposed. Integration brings business leaders more data and presents it clearly, in turn allowing business leaders to make evidence-based decisions.
Automation streamlines rote work tasks and improves efficiency. It also boosts employee morale, as employees are freer to dedicate themselves to interpersonal or creative tasks.
This improved collaboration and increased room for creativity can transform the workplace. It becomes a source of innovation, rather than production. Ultimately, digital transformation can cultivate an era of imagination and specialized skills.
Where Can RPA be Used?
Any organization that conducts business tasks on a server can use RPA. RPA needs to be installed on servers (often cloud servers), and the server must meet certain specifications. These specifications can vary depending on the specific RPA application you choose.
Once on a server, RPA applications can begin to use the software to automate virtual tasks. The task must have three qualities for an RPA bot to successfully automate it. The task must be something that the RPA:
- Can perform with a rules-based process
- Can execute repeatedly, or in response to a trigger
- Can understand in terms of inputs and outputs
The task should also have a high enough volume to be worth automating. Large-scale repetitive tasks are where RPA systems shine.
Today, many high-tech industries are using RPA to their full advantage. The software can streamline workflows in almost any sector. Currently, the industries applying RPA effectively include companies in:
- Electrical engineering
- Enterprise resource management
What Features and Capabilities are Important in RPA Technology?
RPA technology handles everything from development to deployment. Across industries, six capabilities of RPA platforms make a difference in their efficacy and quality.
Look for these RPA technology features in a platform:
Most organizations benefit from a bot-creation designer with a straightforward user interface. The best RPA programs give employees the ability to create bots quickly, with only a few clicks.
Users do much of this work in a less-code or code-free designer. This empowers employees who understand their own tasks to train bots without coding skills.
Employees can train bots on tasks with built-in recording systems. These systems empower bots to learn by observing the employee’s actions on screen.
It’s also important for an RPA to offer a manual task editor for more in-depth instruction.
RPA software needs premium security features.
The best platforms’ security maintains compliance with SOC, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. This protects users’ data and prevents any tampering with bots’ instructions with malicious intent. Key security features include:
- Configurable encryption capabilities
- Automated data audits
- Role-based security
- Encrypted instructions
Most organizations prefer RPA technology with cloud deployment options. Cloud deployment empowers organizations to scale their bot deployment readily, without compromising on security.
Deployment options also enable organizations to coordinate bots to automate complex processes. This can include desktop deployment options that enable bots to access data on cue to complete tasks.
Rules-Based Exception Handling
Rules-based exception handling features are critical to an RPA program’s success. This gives bots a logical next step when they cannot complete a task.
Rules-based exception handling is a set of instructions that tells a server to retry a task with the same bot, or tells it to replace that bot with a new one. The circumstances will vary per task, so the exception handling features ought to be robust.
Debugging, Optimization Tools
RPA lets users create robots to complete virtual tasks. It also lets users discover ways to optimize those tasks.
Debugging and optimization let users and bots make adjustments dynamically as they run through the task.
These features can also enable users to test processes with different variables. This grants valuable data before running those processes in real life.
Integration With Digital Infrastructure, 3rd-Party Applications
Business organizations use multiple software products and management systems to keep things running smoothly. RPA applications should integrate seamlessly with all of them.
This makes it easy to automate digital processes throughout an organization and also warrants leaders to evaluate digital workflows and performance.
Is RPA the Same as Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
RPA isn’t the same as AI (artificial intelligence).
RPA systems let you create bots that follow sets of instructions according to a structure. In essence, users give bots instructions to follow in a set of scenarios, using rules and an if/then process.
In contrast, AI is unstructured. Different AI programs use different methods to develop their own logic structures. This lets them solve unexpected problems without explicit instructions.
That said, RPA solutions often incorporate AI. Machine learning can drive “cognitive automation” with some platforms. This lets bots learn to make better decisions over time.
10 Proven RPA Benefits For Businesses
What can an RPA technology provider do for your organization? The benefits of robotic process automation are plentiful.
Consider the evidence demonstrating the top ten benefits of RPA for a business in almost any industry.
1. Increase Workflow Efficiency
RPA demonstrably increases workflow efficiency.
According to the research firm Deloitte, robotic process automation increases workflow efficiency across the board—thereby routinely increasing productivity by over 80%. And in most organizations, productivity increases remain high.
Moreover, RPA technologies can streamline workflows even when the work incorporates physical manufacturing. In a study published in CIRP Annals, an RPA system improved product development workflow efficiency significantly.
The RPA-assisted method enabled designers to complete the work in only 15% of the time spent on the original method. That means if the original process took two hours, the RPA-assisted process only took 18 minutes.
2. Elevate Employee Satisfaction (Decrease Turnover)
Studies show that RPA increases most employees’ job satisfaction. It also tends to decrease turnover.
Part of this is because employees can use RPA to meet their productivity goals. When productivity goals feel out of reach, people tend to feel demoralized at work.
With RPA, the typical employee’s productivity increases so dramatically, they rocket past their goals! Employee satisfaction also increases when they are more deeply engaged in their work itself.
3. Deepen Employee Engagement
Employees are more engaged when they have interesting, meaningful work.
Routine office tasks, like filing documents, aren’t interesting. And, while they are meaningful in the sense that they’re necessary for the organization, an employee isn’t likely to make their mark in the way he performs a rote task.
Robotic process automation removes the responsibility for these virtual tasks from employees. Freed from the banal, rote office labor, employees are then free to do the work that’s worthwhile to them.
Creative tasks, interpersonal relationship building, and strategic problem solving are all more likely to engage an employee. These types of tasks tap into people’s internal motivation. That, in turn, makes them happier at work.
People once feared automation would take away their jobs. Fortunately, when it comes to the contemporary office, automation with RPA actually makes most workers’ jobs better.
4. Move Digital Transformation Forward (Automate Legacy Systems)
RPA empowers organizations to automate legacy systems. Organizations often utilize systems that don’t have database access, or they maintain technologies that lack virtual desktop infrastructures.
RPA systems can act as a bridge. By emulating human tasks virtually, RPA systems can transform legacy systems into future-compatible technologies.
5. Increase Accuracy
RPA systems complete most virtual tasks with significantly greater accuracy than human employees.
In a recent literature review, researchers examine the effects of robotically automated various office tasks. These included:
- Digital forensics
- Information classification
- Information extraction
- Customer experience enhancement
- Filing documents to comply with regulations
- PDF automation
In all tasks studied, RPA systems completed the tasks faster, and with greater accuracy, than their human counterparts. The literature review was published in Procedia Computer Science in 2021.
6. Meet or Exceed Compliance Goals With Standards, Regulations
Regulators often set high standards for accuracy and timeliness. By increasing accuracy and workflow speed, RPA enables organizations to easily comply with regional, national, and international industry standards.
7. Cut Costs, Drive Revenue Growth
RPA in business drives revenue growth and offer opportunities to cut costs.
Improved workflow efficiency and worker productivity combine to increase revenue. And the accuracy of RPA increasingly offers opportunities to cut costs.
For example, consider how RPA has been applied in healthcare settings. For major healthcare providers, automating digital processes has:
- Reduced credentialing and paperwork errors
- Enabled near-instant response to requests for documents
- Reduced claim denials due to errors or slow response times
- Facilitated daily reconciliation of AR/AP/Invoices
- Increased liquid cash flow
In the financial services sector, RPA systems can audit financial statements and generate reports at superhuman speeds. They also accelerate posting and cash recovery.
8. Enhance Productivity
RPA bots enhance productivity on multiple levels. For an example of this multitude, consider this: in 2022, the Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management published a study of RPA.
Researchers applied robotic process automation to supply chain management tasks and processes. The study noted bots increased the supply chain management team’s productivity in the following ways:
- Minimized idle times through non-stop operation (24/7)
- Increased operational efficiency
- Increased data processing with limited personnel
- Fast data exchange
- Automatic order creation within parameters
- Process optimization (new processes drive better results)
9. Boost Physical Resilience
Human employees cannot engage in physically stressful work environments for long. RPA systems can.
An RPA system can automate processes that control and direct robots and manufacturing machinery—even if the machinery works in an extreme environment.
In an office setting, RPA systems still increase workforce resilience. These systems continue to work and produce results, even when human employees are out sick—or simply clocked out for the day.
This gives an organization a cushion during medical emergencies. Productivity doesn’t completely cease if there are employees who are unable to come into the office.
10. Enhance Organization Responsiveness
Streamlined workflows enable faster iterations. Faster iterations empower organizations to respond quickly to change.
What does it look like when most of your processes are automated? Up-to-the-minute data can inform a product’s design or marketing campaign. Simply weave the new information into the existing, automated process.
Discover What RPA Can Do For You
At Techromatic, we know how challenging it can be to keep pace with today’s work world. Though technology like RPA benefits the workplace in numerous ways, you might face barriers to implementing it at your company.
The good news is, we’re here to help. Techromatic has dedicated our organization to the work of bringing digital transformation tools to organizations worldwide.
Our experts know how to guide employers of all sizes through the intricacies of RPA adoption.
If you’re ready to boost productivity, increase revenue growth, and improve your employee’s satisfaction with their work, connect with us through our contact form. Or, reach out via email or phone.
We’re excited to empower you to automate the office.