Menial tasks rob workers of time they could spend on more productive activities. Done right, RPA can banish bucketfuls of mindless chores. Here’s how to select the right RPA solution for the job.
RPA (robotic process automation) promises to rescue business users from performing boring, repetitive tasks. Hence the term “robotic”: The nature of the jobs performed by RPA tend to be rote and low-level. Businesses use RPA software to create software bots that perform pre-defined, structured jobs that typically involve filling in electronic forms, processing transactions, or sending messages.
Stitch those basic activities together into fleets of RPA bots, and you have tremendous potential to eliminate drudgery—in data entry, billing, order management, HR onboarding, and endless other areas.
Banks use RPA for due diligence reviews on loans, invoice processing, and customer checks. Sales organizations use RPA to automate quotes and invoices. Insurers use RPA to speed up claim adjudication. In addition, with the help of machine learning, RPA can automatically transcribe recorded conversations, extract text and numbers from images and videos, and populate databases from hand-filled forms.
Under the hood, RPA systems include process mining, bot creation tools, plug-ins for connecting to enterprise systems, and a scheduling or orchestration layer. The tools in RPA systems often have limits, so people sometimes fill those gaps with hand-coded automation scripts.
It’s important to keep expectations in line for what RPA can handle. Purveyors of RPA tend to imply their products contain more intelligence than they actually do, which has led to some disappointment with RPA in general. And rollouts need to be planned and executed carefully to avoid failed RPA deployments. You need to be clear about what you want to automate before you select an RPA product—and ensure you choose one that has the capabilities you need.