What is Robotic Process Automation and how to implement it?

Read how Robotic Process Automation automates routine tasks, what the benefits of using it in different use cases like credit scoring, and key considerations for choosing RPA tools.

What is Robotic Process Automation and how to implement it?

Mukul Bhati

5
 min read
What is Robotic Process Automation and how to implement it?What is Robotic Process Automation and how to implement it?
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5
 min read
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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that automates routine tasks that are rule-based and repetitive by mimicking human interactions with digital systems. RPA software robots, or 'bots', execute pre-defined actions on data and applications. These bots can log into applications, enter data, calculate and complete tasks, and log out once the processes are complete.

RPA is particularly powerful because it enables organizations to automate processes without modifying existing systems. Unlike traditional automation which often requires deep integration with the underlying IT infrastructure, RPA operates at the user interface level, making it faster and less costly to implement. It acts as a digital workforce that handles manual tasks, which not only speeds up processes but also reduces errors associated with human interactions.

The technology is versatile and finds applications across various industries for tasks such as processing transactions, managing data, and communicating with other digital systems. As businesses increasingly focus on efficiency and cost reduction, RPA has become an essential tool in enhancing operational workflows, offering both immediate and long-term benefits.

Why are Businesses Leveraging RPA?

Businesses are increasingly leveraging Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up their employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities. RPA technology enables businesses to configure software robots to perform tasks just like a human would, such as logging into applications, completing data entry, and processing transactions.

There are several reasons why businesses are turning to RPA:

  1. Efficiency and Productivity: RPA can automate repetitive tasks, reducing the time and effort required to complete them. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity, allowing businesses to achieve more with less.
  2. Accuracy and Quality: RPA can perform tasks with a high degree of accuracy, reducing the risk of errors and improving the overall quality of work.
  3. Cost Savings: By automating repetitive tasks, businesses can reduce their labor costs, leading to significant cost savings.
  4. Scalability: RPA can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing business needs. This makes it an ideal solution for businesses that experience fluctuations in demand.
  5. Compliance: RPA can help businesses maintain compliance with regulatory requirements by ensuring that tasks are completed consistently and accurately.
  6. Customer Satisfaction: By automating time-consuming tasks, businesses can improve their customer service by responding to inquiries more quickly and accurately.

In addition to these benefits, RPA can also be integrated with other technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to create more sophisticated automation solutions. This enables businesses to automate even more complex tasks and processes, further increasing efficiency and productivity.

To summarize, businesses are leveraging RPA for a variety of reasons, including efficiency, accuracy, cost savings, scalability, compliance, and customer satisfaction. By automating repetitive tasks, businesses can free up their employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities, leading to increased productivity and competitiveness.

Read more about Key Benefits of Workflow Automation

Advantages of RPA:

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that enables businesses to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, enabling employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities. The advantages of RPA are numerous, including:

  1. Cost Savings: RPA can significantly reduce operational costs by automating repetitive tasks, leading to a reduction in labor costs and increased efficiency. It has been estimated that using robotics can cut operational costs by as much as 25-50%.
  2. Accuracy and Quality: RPA software bots are highly accurate and consistent, reducing errors and improving the quality of work. This is particularly important in industries where accuracy is critical, such as finance and healthcare.
  3. Scalability: RPA can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing business needs, making it an ideal solution for businesses that experience fluctuations in demand.
  4. Improved Productivity: By automating repetitive tasks, RPA can significantly improve employee productivity, freeing up time for employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities.
  5. 24/7 Continuous Performance: RPA software bots can work 24/7 without breaks, enabling businesses to operate around the clock and providing a significant advantage over human workers.
  6. Improved Customer Experience: RPA can improve the customer experience by reducing response times and improving the quality of work, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  7. Reduced Operational Risks: RPA can significantly reduce operational risks by offering scalability, decreasing errors, and increasing compliance, leading to more consistent results and delivery.
  8. Predictability of Actions: RPA provides a high degree of predictability in the execution of tasks, enabling businesses to plan and manage their operations more effectively[1].
  9. Enhanced Security: RPA solutions can help guard against security threats by reducing the number of human interactions with sensitive data, leading to improved cybersecurity and data privacy.
  10. Business Continuity Support: RPA can act as a backstop for business continuity plans, providing a critical advantage for businesses looking to enhance efficiency and meet regulatory requirements.

In summary, RPA offers numerous advantages for businesses, including cost savings, improved accuracy and quality, scalability, improved productivity, 24/7 continuous performance, improved customer experience, reduced operational risks, predictability of actions, enhanced security, and business continuity support. By automating repetitive tasks, businesses can free up their employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities, leading to increased efficiency and competitiveness.

5 Industries Where RPA Automates the Operations:

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is transforming how various sectors operate by automating complex, labor-intensive tasks. Here’s how RPA addresses specific challenges within key industries:

1. Credit Scoring in Financial Services

In the financial sector, assessing creditworthiness is a critical yet cumbersome process. Traditionally, this involves collecting vast amounts of data from various sources, analyzing it, and determining the credit score based on complex criteria. This manual process not only consumes significant time but also introduces the risk of human error, which can lead to incorrect credit scoring and affect decision-making.

RPA streamlines credit scoring by automatically gathering and processing applicant data using predefined algorithms. This automation ensures accuracy and drastically reduces the processing time, enabling quicker loan approvals and enhancing customer satisfaction by providing rapid responses to credit applications.

2. Patient Scheduling in Healthcare

Healthcare providers manage numerous patient appointments daily, which can lead to scheduling errors, such as double bookings or misplaced appointment slots. Manual scheduling is prone to inefficiencies that can cause longer waiting times for patients and increased administrative burdens on staff.

By implementing RPA, healthcare facilities can automate the entire scheduling process. Bots can interface with electronic health records to identify available slots, update schedules in real time, and automatically notify patients about their appointments via SMS or email. This not only optimizes the scheduling process but also reduces no-shows through timely reminders.

3. Order Processing in Retail

Retail businesses handle a plethora of orders daily, requiring data entry, stock-level checks, and coordination with shipping services. Manual processing is time-consuming and often leads to errors in order entries or delays in shipping, affecting customer satisfaction.

RPA automates the order processing workflow by extracting order details from emails or online forms, verifying them against current inventory, processing payments, updating inventory levels, and initiating shipping procedures. This seamless automation ensures that orders are processed quickly and accurately, improving the overall customer experience.

4. Claims Processing in Insurance

The insurance industry relies heavily on processing numerous claims, involving verifying policy details, assessing claim validity, and disbursing payments. Manual handling of these processes is not only slow but also prone to errors, which can lead to delayed payouts and customer dissatisfaction.

RPA revolutionizes claims processing by automating the extraction of data from claim forms, checking policy coverage, calculating entitlements based on the claim, and processing payments. This automation significantly speeds up the process and increases the accuracy of payouts, enhancing trust and satisfaction among claimants.

5. Employee Onboarding in Human Resources

Onboarding new employees involves various administrative tasks, from setting up IT systems and payroll details to enrolling in benefits programs. Manually managing these tasks is labor-intensive and can lead to delays or errors in setting up necessary accounts for new hires.

RPA facilitates seamless employee onboarding by automating the entire process. Bots can fill in employment forms, schedule training sessions, set up user accounts and email addresses, and manage all routine communications. This not only ensures a smooth onboarding process for new employees but also allows HR staff to focus on more value-adding activities.

Are RPA and Workflow Automation the Same?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and workflow automation are often mentioned in the same breath and can sometimes be confused as identical. However, they represent distinct approaches within the broader field of business process management. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for organizations deciding which automation tools to implement, especially when tailoring solutions to specific business needs.

Here's a comparison table that outlines the key differences between Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Workflow Automation (WA), particularly focusing on how each technology approaches automation tasks, such as invoice processing in a finance department:

Feature RPA Workflow Automation
Integration Level Operates at the UI level Deep system integration
Implementation Complexity Low; interacts with existing interfaces High; requires integration into systems
Scope of Automation Task-specific automation End-to-end process automation
Flexibility High in diverse environments with different systems Requires consistent system environment
Cost Lower initial cost, higher scalability Higher initial cost, lower over time due to scalability
Setup Time Quick to deploy for specific tasks Longer setup due to integration complexities
Best Use Cases Ideal for bridging disparate systems without modification Best for streamlining and optimizing large business processes
Maintenance Requires updates as UIs and systems change Less frequent updates; focuses on process optimization
Impact on IT Infrastructure Minimal; no changes needed to existing systems Significant; may require changes to facilitate integration
Data Handling Typically handles visible data on screen Can manage data across systems comprehensively
Control and Monitoring Limited to task execution monitoring Comprehensive process monitoring and optimization tools

To illustrate these differences more clearly, let's explore a common use case in the finance department: invoice processing. This example will help delineate how RPA and workflow automation address the same challenge in different ways.

Consider a scenario in a finance department where the team is tasked with processing incoming invoices. This critical function includes multiple steps: initially, team members must extract relevant data from each invoice, such as payment terms, amounts due, and vendor details. Following this, they need to validate the extracted information to ensure its accuracy. The process continues as they match each invoice to its corresponding purchase order to verify that the invoiced items or services have been received and conform to the agreed terms. Finally, the team executes payments to close out the invoices.

Handling these tasks manually consumes considerable time and effort, often compounded by the high volume of invoices a typical department receives. Manual processing not only slows down the operation due to its labor-intensive nature but also introduces a significant risk of human error. Mistakes in data entry, delays in matching invoices to purchase orders, or errors in payment execution can lead to payment delays, which strain vendor relationships and cause compliance issues and financial discrepancies. This scenario underscores the challenges and inefficiencies inherent in traditional, non-automated systems.

How RPA Solves the Invoice Processing Problem?

RPA approaches this problem by directly interacting with the user interfaces of the systems involved in invoice processing. Here’s how RPA tackles the task:

  • Data Extraction: RPA bots are configured to recognize and extract data from invoice documents, whether they are received in digital format or scanned from paper documents.
  • Validation and Matching: The bots then validate extracted data against predefined rules and match invoices with corresponding purchase orders in the financial system.
  • Executing Payments: Once validation is confirmed, RPA can facilitate the payment process by filling in payment details and even executing the transaction if configured with the necessary permissions.

RPA handles these tasks without altering the underlying systems, working at the UI level and mimicking the manual inputs a human would perform.

How Workflow Automation Solves the same Problem?

Workflow automation takes a more holistic approach by managing the entire process flow from start to finish, integrating directly with business systems. Here's how workflow automation manages invoice processing:

  • System Integration: Unlike RPA, workflow automation platforms are integrated deeper into IT systems, allowing for a more seamless flow of data across processes.
  • Rule-Based Workflow: The system uses predefined business rules to automatically route invoices for approval, matching, and payment processes. It also handles exceptions by routing anomalies to human operators for review.
  • Process Optimization: Workflow automation not only automates tasks but also provides tools for monitoring and optimizing the process flow, including dashboards and analytics for tracking performance and identifying bottlenecks.

While both RPA and workflow automation aims to increase efficiency and reduce errors, they differ fundamentally in their approach and scope:

  • RPA is more tactical and ideal for automating specific tasks within a larger process without needing to change any part of the underlying IT infrastructure. It is best used when the tasks are highly standardized and involve interacting with multiple disparate systems at the UI level.
  • Workflow Automation takes a strategic approach, optimizing entire business processes through deep system integration and providing end-to-end automation. It is most effective when there's a need to streamline complex workflows that involve multiple decision points and integrations across various systems.

In summary, the choice between RPA and workflow automation should be based on the specific needs of the business process to be automated, considering factors such as the complexity of the workflow, the need for system integration, and the strategic importance of the process to the organization.

How to choose the right RPA software for your business?

When selecting a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tool for your organization, it’s essential to consider a range of factors that can influence both the success of your automation initiatives and the long-term scalability of the solutions you deploy. Here’s what you need to evaluate to ensure you choose the right RPA tool for your business needs:

  1. Integration and Compatibility: Ensure the RPA tool integrates seamlessly with your existing IT systems and offers robust API capabilities for easy data exchanges across platforms.
  2. Scalability and Flexibility: Assess if the tool can handle increasing workloads as your business grows and whether it provides flexible licensing models that accommodate evolving needs.
  3. User Experience: Check for an intuitive interface that allows users of all technical levels to operate efficiently, coupled with strong vendor support for training and troubleshooting.
  4. Security Measures: Confirm robust security protocols are in place to protect data and ensure the tool complies with relevant industry regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA.
  5. Advanced Features: Evaluate the tool's ability to incorporate artificial intelligence or machine learning for handling complex tasks that require adaptive decision-making.
  6. Cost Efficiency: Consider both the initial investment and ongoing costs, ensuring the tool delivers a favorable return on investment through cost savings and efficiency gains.
  7. Vendor Reputation: Research the vendor's stability, market presence, and user feedback to gauge reliability and effectiveness, particularly through customer reviews and case studies.

Focusing on these criteria will help you select an RPA tool that aligns with your operational needs and strategic goals, ensuring a successful implementation and long-term utility.

How to Implement an RPA  using Nected?

RPA typically focuses on automating individual tasks within a workflow, and Nected's editor simplifies this by providing tools to design these processes with high specificity and flexibility.

To create an RPA, you can simply use Nected’s workflow editor, and follow these comprehensive steps:

  1. Define the Process: Identify the process you want to automate and define the steps involved. This will help you determine which tasks can be automated using RPA.
  2. Create a Workflow: Log into Nected Dashboard and navigate to the Workflow option. Create a new workflow and name it (e.g., “Sample RPA”).
  3. Set Up an API Trigger: The first step in creating an RPA workflow involves setting up an API trigger, which is an event that starts your workflow. Define input parameters that the API trigger will accept, such as details like sensor ID, transaction amount, customer ID, etc.
  4. Add RPA Actions: After setting up the API trigger, you can add RPA actions that the workflow will execute. Click on the plus icon to add an action. Actions can include executing custom JavaScript codes, database operations, or invoking other rules you’ve set up on Nected.
  5. Integrate RPA with Other Systems: Nected offers robust integration capabilities, making it easy to incorporate RPA into existing business systems and workflows. For example, you can integrate RPA with your CRM, ERP, or other business systems to automate tasks within those systems without requiring major modifications to the existing infrastructure.
  6. Test Each Node: It’s essential to test each node or step within your RPA workflow to ensure it executes as expected. This involves verifying the API trigger, RPA actions, and any rules for correctness and functionality.
  7. Publish Your RPA Workflow: Once you’ve tested the RPA workflow and confirmed that all parts are working correctly, you can move to publish it. Keep in mind, that a workflow can only be published if all its components, including any rules it uses, are also in a published state.

By following these steps, you can implement RPA with Nected and automate repetitive tasks, improving efficiency and accuracy in various business scenarios, especially in e-commerce. Nected’s flexibility and power in automating complex tasks and operations make it a valuable tool for enhancing efficiency and accuracy in business processes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Nected provides a streamlined, efficient approach to automating specific business processes. By leveraging Nected’s robust workflow automation platform, businesses can easily create, test, and deploy RPAs that enhance operational efficiency and accuracy. Starting with RPA on Nected not only addresses immediate automation needs but also sets the groundwork for expanding automation across broader workflows, offering scalability and adaptability for future growth. Embracing RPA with Nected is an effective strategy for organizations aiming to optimize routine tasks and free up valuable resources for more strategic initiatives.

FAQs:

Q1. Does RPA need Coding?

RPA does not necessarily require coding, as it is designed to automate repetitive tasks with minimal human intervention. However, some RPA tools may require some level of scripting or programming knowledge to create more complex automation workflows. Creating a hard-coded RPA is not recommended for several reasons, like if the code breaks anytime, then the process can crash immediately. Even, as the process will be more complex, the level of complexity of the code will also be increased drastically, which can make it difficult to implement. And the additional developer cost overhead and the learning curve is always involved. That’s why a business that wants to scale should go for LCNC tools like Nected which can not only help them to create an RPA but also can help them to scale.

Q2. Is Python used for RPA?

Python can be used for RPA, as it is a versatile programming language with extensive libraries and frameworks for automating tasks. Some RPA tools, such as UiPath and Blue Prism, offer Python integration to extend their capabilities.

Q3. Is RPA an AI tool?

RPA is not an AI tool, but it can be combined with AI technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision to create more sophisticated automation workflows. RPA focuses on automating repetitive tasks, while AI can be used to enhance RPA with cognitive abilities such as decision-making, pattern recognition, and learning.

Q4. What are the 4 stages of Automation?

The four stages of automation are manual, mechanized, automated, and autonomous. The manual stage involves human workers performing tasks manually without any assistance. The mechanized stage involves using machines to perform tasks with human supervision. The automated stage involves using software or hardware to automate tasks without human intervention. The autonomous stage involves using AI and machine learning to create self-learning and self-improving automation systems.

Q5. Which is the best tool for RPA?

The best RPA tool depends on the specific needs and requirements of the organization. Some popular RPA tools include UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and Nintex. These tools offer different features, capabilities, and pricing models, so it is essential to evaluate them based on the organization's automation goals, budget, and technical resources.

Q6. What are the 3 types of RPA?

The three types of RPA are attended, unattended, and hybrid. Attended RPA involves human workers initiating and supervising the automation workflows, while unattended RPA involves software robots performing tasks autonomously without human intervention. Hybrid RPA combines attended and unattended RPA to create flexible and adaptive automation workflows that can handle both structured and unstructured data.

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