In recent years, robotic process automation (RPA) has quickly become one of the most fundamental efforts contributing to businesses enhancing their productivity for long-term success. Although ultimately just one piece of the modern business technology puzzle, RPA often serves as the introduction to the convenience and speed that automation can lend to a business. With rules-based software robots handling repetitive tasks that are frequently marred by human error, your team can do more every day.
What are the specific benefits of RPA? Understanding why RPA is important in modern business is the first step to a successful deployment. The ability to capably explain the advantages of RPA is also the key to achieving the buy-in you need from those higher up on the food chain. You'll need to be able to showcase how RPA can save money, reduce errors, improve agility and prove its own value as an investment.
In this article, we'll look at seven significant ways your business can benefit by adopting an intelligent approach to automating tasks with RPA bots. Topics include the following:
- The Bigger Picture of RPA Benefits
- How RPA Fits Into an Intelligent Automation Strategy for Your Business
The Bigger Picture of RPA Benefits
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking of automation only in the simplest terms—for example, that it makes things faster, easier and more reliable. What do these terms mean for your business in practice? Being able to speak intelligently about how these systems deliver real value requires a deeper dive into what they offer.
Be ready to give an in-depth answer when your CTO or manager asks, "Why do we need RPA?" Start by reviewing seven outstanding benefits that today's smart tools provide.
Boost Productivity Across the Board
There's a simple principle behind the benefits of RPA automation: let human employees work on what humans excel at, and let robots handle the tasks that get in the way. When employees have to spend time on mind-numbing tasks, such as copying and pasting information between business systems, they have much less time to devote to work that uses their skills. Manual tasks consume a significant amount of time and energy, so staff can't accomplish as much in a day.
RPA changes that principle. When you configure them properly for a workflow, software robots can increase a team's capacity for completed work by 35% to 50%. At the same time, they can work faster, cutting data processing times by 30% to 50%. With low-level and back-office work duties split between humans and robots, you can easily do more with the same amount of time.
Improve Efficiency to Generate Savings
Added productivity is essential for more than keeping humans from spending too much time on repetitive tasks. The combination of a human workforce and RPA tools leads to reduced cost. Consider the use of robots in a department such as accounts payable or receivable, in which staff frequently need to transpose data from different portals into your business systems.
With RPA speeding up processing times and reducing costly errors, processing costs decline and per-employee output increases. Common savings from these efficiency improvements fall within between 25% and 50%.
Hit Accuracy Goals with Reliable Consistency
What if human errors were no longer a factor in some of the most mission-critical workflows within your business? Errors in accounts payable that result in real and unplanned costs for a business are common. Your business may contend with double payments caused by invoices that your team mistakenly duplicated because of a transposed digit in a PO number. Achieving 100% error-free data accuracy is within reach when you automate.
Improve Business Data Security
A chief concern that business leaders express about the potential use of RPA tools concerns their impact on operational risk. Data leaks and breaches are already common, and management may have concerns about the security of such systems. However, when your team carefully manages and strictly defines RPA parameters, the risk of leaks between platforms is relatively minor. Selecting a well-developed and maintained solution will contribute to greater confidence in security.
In areas with strict personal data regulations, the use of RPA provides beneficial opportunities for reducing the number of human touches businesses require to process personal information. When you facilitate this pullback and reduce contact with sensitive data, you can achieve compliance and easier implementation of governance practices.
Seize Opportunities for Scale
RPA is a particular advantage in workflows with irregular volume. For example, a business may receive a higher number of orders during a particular time of year. Without automation, the business may need to onboard temporary hires or shift employees from other duties to handle the information. Robots can scale up and down instantly to handle any volume of work.
Produce Data for Important Analytics
You don't know what you don't know—at least until you start gathering granular data about process efficiencies, thanks to your new robots. In many cases, the use of RPA contributes to the identification of process gaps and areas where improvements are still missing. These gaps indicate insufficiency in both human and software resources, and they often reveal the need for advanced and intelligent automation that goes beyond basic RPA software.
Create a Better Customer Service Experience
RPA has an increasing foothold in customer service, especially at the intersection of technology such as AI-powered natural language processing. However, the key benefits in this area today stem from reduced employee involvement with repetitive tasks.
Customer service is a high-maintenance, high-commitment process that requires a large amount of time and attention from employees. By spending less time on rote administrative tasks, staff can turn their attention back to customers. Resolution times will improve, disputes will decrease and overall customer satisfaction with your company will climb.
Automate in Non-Disruptive Ways
For brand-new companies, automation is a part of the stakes of doing business. For established organizations that have grown and evolved over many years, legacy systems might make automation a riskier undertaking.
However, RPA tools, especially those based on no-code platforms, don't require you to rip out and replace all legacy systems. In fact, it is simpler to train most robots on legacy software, since these tools feature designs that are intended to mimic human user interactions—such as clicks and keystrokes. RPA lets organizations test the waters as they evaluate end-of-life opportunities for legacy deployments.
Taking advantage of these benefits requires a robust RPA platform designed with your needs in mind. Solutions such as Kofax TotalAgility® and standalone Kofax RPA™ offer a direct link to cutting-edge intelligent automation. Learn how these tools can transform the way you work.
How RPA Fits Into an Intelligent Automation Strategy for Your Business
The benefits of RPA make it clear that these technologies have an essential role in business. However, RPA has limitations. It's not suitable for automating every type of task, and many companies will discover that they need additional support for more advanced solutions. Even so, RPA can be foundational to your company's overall strategy, providing initial inroads and opportunities to gather experience with these systems.
Where and how can an RPA system fit into the many workflows in a typical organization? Let's explore seven areas in which these tools can create cost savings and increase employee engagement.
RPA in accounting and finance might be one of the most well-tested and mature forms of automation in business. With departments’ need for accurate data and experience with the challenges that accompany maintaining accounting practices in high-volume businesses, robots stand to relieve the pressure. The key areas in finance to automate include:
- Procure to pay
- Record to report
- Quote to cash
When a customer calls your business for help, which tools do CS team members have at their disposal? In traditional arrangements, a service rep might need to spend several minutes logging into different systems and retrieving a customer's information manually. Finding the answers that a caller needs can take too long, and recording new data across an array of systems can drive up call times even further.
None of these factors translates into a positive customer service experience for clients. With RPA, your reps can rely on robots to rapidly—nearly instantly—retrieve data for them. With key information at their disposal in seconds, reps can offer more responsive service to callers. Instead of fighting with legacy software, they can create better outcomes for every inquiry.
While some businesses maintain a traditional department architecture, others have transitioned to "shared services." In these arrangements, multiple departments share services, such as IT, HR and finance.
Because shared services typically operate within a diverse software ecosystem, RPA is in the perfect position to streamline work. Robots can easily put the right information in front of employees so that they can deliver better service throughout the business.
With businesses handling a significant amount of information, some data management tasks have become time-consuming and tedious for employees. These workflows are perfect for automation.
Mundane tasks such as data validation (checking that data falls within expected parameters) and data cleansing (removing invalid entries) are easy to "teach" to RPA systems. At the same time, RPA assists with data ingestion. Optical character recognition-enabled tools can reliably sort documents into the correct repositories or transfer information from documents to recording software.
RPA is useful in many HR contexts. Although only 29% of respondents in a survey by the Process Excellence Network identified HR as a target area for RPA deployment, new use cases will drive that number higher. Some of the most common applications today include:
- Unifying employee datasets across disparate HR computer systems
- Tracking and updating employee records with greater accuracy
- Streamlining the onboarding process for new hires
Even the IT department can experience the advantages of RPA deployments. IT's focus is often highly fragmented, handling the maintenance of existing systems, providing help desk support and assessing future improvement opportunities. RPA provides a reliable way to escape from the endless time crunch IT often faces.
Bots can assist with critical tasks such as executing system backups and automating certain help desk tasks. From assisting employees with credential concerns to providing automated approvals for specific system requests, with robots, your IT team will thank you for the opportunity to offload work.
Sales and Marketing
The sales team produces a staggering amount of data. Keeping all that data together might seem an impossible task, but well-configured RPA systems can help unify sales data. RPA can also follow rules surrounding lead evaluation and assignment, ensuring that there are always qualified leads available to the appropriate employees.
With enhanced insight into sales data through RPA unification, the marketing team can build more complete customer profiles. That data might result in developing marketing programs that are more effective at persuading the target audience.
With opportunities to work smarter and faster, RPA is an element of intelligent automation that firmly roots your business in the 21st century. With the seven distinct benefits of robotic process automation, you can begin saving money and improving daily outcomes almost immediately. Although RPA requires forethought, planning and consideration of the metrics for its success, tapping into its power is easier today than ever before.
Platforms such as TotalAgility provide your organization with all the tools to get started and room to grow. By integrating RPA into a complete platform for intelligent automation, you can sunset legacy systems while creating a unified approach to business processes and data analysis.
Start the process of evaluating the need for RPA in your business today and discover precisely how solutions such as TotalAgility deliver top-to-bottom intelligent automation.