Robotic Process Automation: The Complete Guide

  • May 12, 2022
  • Elisa Silverglade
  • 10 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic magnified a new challenge for the human workforce. We know that automation saves money over manual workload, and that manual work can cause human error. Now, we can consider human beings becoming sick on a massive scale and unable to perform work in person.

RPA, or robotic process automation, is becoming more and more of a hot topic. One reason is that it is a solution when challenged by a pandemic.

According to Computer Economics, RPA is picking up steam. As of 2021, 20% of organizations adopted robotic process automation, which is up from a 13% adoption rate in 2020. The previous year, 2019, had an adoption rate of 12%.

Are your competitors adopting RPA? Do you want to stay ahead of the curve and edge them out of your market space? Let’s dive into “what is robotic process automation” and how it can both benefit and transform your business.

What is Robotic Process Automation?

RPA technologies are a game-changer. They automate corporate processes. It is a tool designed to ease human employees from having to perform tedious, repetitive jobs that are of low value.

Basically, humans take on higher-value responsibilities and perform tasks that add value versus involving them in jobs that a BOT can manage. RPA Bots mimic human behavior and can replace humans for any tasks that are rules-baed and deterministic.

RPA automation repeats a pre-defined operation which is much faster than a human can do because it performs tasks in an automated way. If robotic process automation can be adequately designed and strategized with the proper IT governance, it will be a success for the company.

Features and Capabilities

How RPA works is you would first log in to a system, software, or application and connect to an API. RPA then transfers documents and folders, copies and pastes data, and fills in forms.

Robotic process automation can analyze and extract content from multiple sources like PDFs, emails, documents, scrapes browsers, and more. It will read a database and rewrite it. They can open emails and attachments, as well as make calculations.

Is RPA the Same as Artificial Intelligence?

While RPA and AI have similarities, they are not the same thing. Robotic process automation works with humans by automating repetitive processes. RPA has certain AI capabilities as well, that can leverage machine learning and natural language processing.

The biggest difference between RPA and AI is that RPA leverages structured logic and inputs, while AI leverages unstructured inputs.  Artificial intelligence develops its own logic based on it’s experiences.

Why is RPA Transformative?

Robotic process automation assists companies in improving their business results. Another way to word it is that RPA can bring forth digital transformation.

All the rage today, Forrester Research predicts that the RPA software market may reach as much as $6.5 billion by the year 2025.

Where Can RPA be Used?

The possibilities for RPA are endless, with its ability to work in pretty much every industry you can think of. It can impact all business units that have processes that occur the same way each time. 

In the supply chain, we can use RPA for predictive maintenance, data entry, and after-sales service support. Telecommunication businesses can configure new services along with the associated billing for a new account by using RPA.

Other areas where we can use RPA include:

  • Finance and RCM (Revenue Cycle Management)
  • Customer service
  • Shared services
  • Data management
  • Human resources
  • Information technology
  • Sales and marketing

While it requires serious planning and forethought before implementing RPA in these areas, these are functions and departments of the business that will find RPA highly beneficial.

Types of RPA

There are three types of robotic process automation. We will break them down for you.

Attended Automation

Usually, attended automation is an RPA that will operate on the computer of a user. The most exclusive element of attended automation is that they program every robotic system specific to the user.

Whenever a worker needs the robot to execute a process, the robot is available and ready to go. All that needs to be done is that the user activates the robot’s functions. The benefit is accuracy and time-saving features.

It is possible to activate a robot automatically with user behavior that is pre-defined with more advanced technology. If an employee is non-compliant with a defined rule or behavior, the robot can do one of two things. The robot could execute the procedure automatically on behalf of the employee or send a message letting the employee know they made a mistake.

Unattended Automation

RPA that is unattended automation basically runs on a virtual machine. It will have the perspective that an enterprise user will. Leadership will need to understand this.

An unattended robot that is performing unattended automation will carry out the procedures for a group of employees, as opposed to being deployed by one user. It will execute a procedure that is delegated by a defined schedule, pre-defined event, or API.

The biggest benefit of unattended automation is that it will run on its own, operating on a virtual machine. A user does not need to stop what they are doing or halt carrying out their tasks on their computer or device.

It is for these reasons that some companies prefer unattended automation over attended. Especially if the procedure takes a long time to operate.

Hybrid Automation

Even if your robot moves fast, it still may take a long time to complete a process. Although, it is still far less time than it would take a human to do it manually.

When you have hybrid automation, this means that an unattended robot will carry out the parts of the process that demand a human worker to be involved. An unattended robot that operates a virtual machine takes care of the rest of the project. That is why a hybrid approach is extremely versatile as an option.

Further, depending on your needs for the project, an employee could launch the process and trigger the attended robot. Then, the attended robot will activate the unattended robot. The unattended robot will execute the rest of the project.

Another way that hybrid automation can work is if the unattended robot begins the project and triggers an API, a schedule, or an event. When the unattended robot needs the employee to decide the next steps, it would transfer the project to the attended robot. The employee sees a notification to execute a phase of the task, and the human worker will input what it needs.

The more complex the task, the more transfers that may be necessary between the attended and unattended robot. Still, hybrid automation lets the user automate as much as they need to without having to surrender access to their computer for the duration of the project.

What are the Benefits of RPA?

RPA automation lets a human worker do what a human is good at and leaves the robots to take care of tasks that prevent a human from accelerating. It boosts productivity across functions and departments.

Bots can scale quickly and easily, so as a business grows, it does not need to hire additional human workers for the automated process.  It would simply scale up the bot for additional productivity.

If a human must spend time on tasks that they find mind-numbing, like data entry and copying and pasting details between systems, that leaves a human worker with less time to use their genuine gifts and skill set. Staff cannot accomplish as much as they could because they consume their time and energy with manual labor.

Generate Cost Savings and Improve Efficiency

You are always searching for ways to boost productivity and save money. So why would a company not love an opportunity to use RPA to accomplish that?

Unfortunately, humans spend too much time on repetitive tasks. It can get costly.

When you spend less time on manual tasks and boost efficiency, this is the very essence of cost savings. Think about how much time an accounts payable or receivable clerk transposes data in applications. Now imagine how much time you can save by leveraging RPA.

Now, that’s something to celebrate!

Reliable Consistency

Have you ever been working on your company’s mission-critical workflow and a human error will pop up, negatively affecting the process? Wouldn’t it be great to eliminate human errors from the process?

With RPA automation, it is possible. You can achieve 100% error-free accuracy.

Better Data Security

Business leadership has a primary concern that by using RPA, there will be an unnecessary operational risk. Data breaches and leaks are already a threat, so business leaders worry about the security of systems like these, naturally.

If you strictly define the RPA parameters and carefully manage the workflow, the risks are mitigated. You want to take the time to develop and maintain the RPA solution. This will attribute to great confidence in its security.

Further, if there are strict regulations surrounding personal data, using RPA is beneficial because it reduces how many humans touch the data to process it. Reducing human contact with sensitive data helps with compliance. It also makes implementing governance practices easier.

Allows the Business to Scale Effectively

If your business encounters an irregular volume of workload, RPA is especially beneficial. With humans, it can be difficult to know exactly how many people you need to perform tasks. Particularly, at times of extreme growth and times when business is slower than usual.

Some businesses have peak times of the year. Robots can easily scale up and scale down anytime you need them.

Gain a Competitive Edge

When you can scale up or down easily, you’ve got a clear advantage over competitors. Your company can now operate and handle a sizeable performance, and your competition can lack such a system. RPAs can make business tasks more nimble, being able to handle an aggressive workload.

Transparent Data

When humans are doing the work, producing data, and creating analytics to see work patterns can be challenging. With RPA, you can easily find granular data to help you better understand process efficiencies.

If there are gaps and areas that need attention, it is much easier to identify and fix. You may find areas that are insufficient with software resources and even human workers.

Improve Customer Experience

RPA is continuing to grow among organizations. It is being pulled to better assist customers and enhance their experience with your business. The key benefit is that there are fewer human workers involved with repetitive tasks.

Providing excellent customer service can be high-maintenance and high commitment. It requires a lot of time and attention from your staff. When your people can take their attention away from tedious administrative tasks, it gives them time back to focus on your customers.

You find that RPA automation leads to an improvement in resolution times, fewer disputes, and customer satisfaction overall will be higher.

Better Communication

RPA improves communication with the help of triggers and procedures. It can automate document creation and modifications, which frees up an employee from having to manually update systems.

Also, RPA ensures processes carry out timely. End-users and field workers receive up-to-date information from the robots.

How Can RPA Help You?

At Techromatic, we help our customers to conceive, deploy and manage IT and automation. We help you simplify, transform, protect data, and deliver consistent, successful results. Our goal is to drive productivity and revenue for your business with our services.

If you have ideas on how RPA can help your business and ease the workload from your human workers, so you can let go of the manual tasks and focus on more important matters, let’s talk. We are technology agnostic. With our expertise, we’ve got some ideas too that can help you.

Contact us today and learn more.