20 Dec Robotic Process Automation (RPA): What Processes Should We Automate?
By Megan Hild
You may be wondering, what exactly is RPA? RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation. This technology is computer-centric process that was developed to replace repetitive tasks performed by humans. Robotic automation uses a computer to run application software in the same way that a person would work with that software. Pretty cool, huh? Just think of all the time spent on things that can be accomplished by this kind of software, freeing the person up to do more complex tasks.
So, how do we determine what business processes we should automate? When evaluating your business processes there are ways to determine what department or process would be the best candidate for automation. Here are a few things to consider:
- Is your process highly manual and repetitive?
- Does the process include a standard readable electronic Input Type (e.g. Excel, Word, XML, PPT, readable PDFs, etc.)?
- Is the process rule-based?
- Does this process include processing high volumes?
- Will there be (cost) savings by incorporating automation into your process?
- Are there low “Exception” rates in the current process?
- Is the process mature and stable?
- Are there any plans or expectations to go through any process or system changes?
As we dive a little deeper into each of these categories, we can start to determine what types of departments are good candidates for automation. As we mentioned above, we can start with identifying a process that’s highly manual and repetitive. This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you feel like tasks you have been assigned are mundane, repetitive and rarely have an exception based process or decision, there could be a benefit to looking at a RPA solution. If there are a great deal of exceptions throughout your process, that could impact the decision to consider automation. Exceptions require additional instructions or handling mechanism. Also, when it comes to rules, clear handling instructions and decisions that are based on standard and predictive rules make configuring RPA much easier and successful. We also mentioned the format or input type. These would need to be readable by the software, so anything outside of the readable inputs like Excel, Word, XML, PPT and readable PDFs would not make good candidates. When it comes to volume, we would really want to target high transaction volumes for a number of reasons, but one is because the higher the volume, the more the savings you would see. If you don’t see saving opportunities automation may not be in the best interest of the organization looking to pursue RPA. Lastly, but certainly not least, we need to evaluate the stability of the process that’s being considered. Is the process well documented and predictable? Are there no considerations for process or system changes in the near future, as it pertains to the process in question? If the process is mature with no plans to diverge from its current state, it’s probably in the running for investigating automation opportunities.
But what kinds of departments or processes can companies consider up front? Departments like HR Services (Data Entry, Payroll, Personnel Administration, etc.) could be a good option. Also, Finance and Accounting (Sales Orders, Incentive Claims, etc.), IT Services (Software Deployment, Server and App Monitoring, Password reset/unlock, backup and restoration, etc.) or Supply Chain (Inventory Management, Work Order Management, Returns Processing, etc.) are all good departments to consider. There are other organizational activities that can easily fall under the scope of an automation strategy.
So, after careful consideration, some processes can be narrowed down to determine next steps on implementing this kind of software. What can RPA do for you?