Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is software technology that’s easy for anyone to use to automate digital tasks.

With RPA, software users create software robots, or “bots”, that can learn, mimic, and then execute rules-based business processes. RPA automation enables users to create bots by observing human digital actions. Show your bots what to do, then let them do the work. Robotic Process Automation software bots can interact with any application or system the same way people do—except that RPA bots can operate around the clock, nonstop, much faster and with 100% reliability and precision.

What can RPA do?

Robotic Process Automation bots have the same digital skillset as people—and then some. Think of RPA bots as a Digital Workforce that can interact with any system or application. For example, bots are able to copy-paste, scrape web data, make calculations, open and move files, parse emails, log into programs, connect to APIs, and extract unstructured data. And because bots can adapt to any interface or workflow, there’s no need to change business systems, applications, or existing processes in order to automate.

RPA bots are easy to set up, use, and share. If you know how to record video on your phone, you’ll be able to configure RPA bots. It’s as intuitive as hitting record, play, and stop buttons and using drag-and-drop to move files around at work. RPA bots can be scheduled, cloned, customized, and shared to execute business processes throughout the organization.

RPA Benefits

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.

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