At SourceMash, we get lots of questions on the background of automation. How does it work? Why do I need it? How do I get started? Is it hard to use? Is it safe for my business? Is it cheap?
To help answer those questions, we’ve decided to create a playbook to explain the very fundamental elements of business automation. Whether you’re a C-level executive or a clerk, we want to help you understand the potential value for your organization and role within the RPA world.
In this blog, we will break down all things Robotic Process Automation (RPA), starting with an overview of RPA and then getting more advanced in future blogs.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Select. Copy. Paste. Repeat. Do this 50,000 times.
The digital era has brought us many wonderful things, but it’s also brought us digital drudgery. Where we once filled out forms in triplicate with paper, we now copy and paste the information using repetitive tasks.
Like the way physical robots are executing many of the very repetitive — and often very dangerous — jobs that humans once had to perform, there is now a robotic process that can save us from the very repetitive digital office jobs. It’s called Robotic Process Automation.
RPA is a way of automating your repetitive processes so that they do the manual work for you. It’s the programming of software robots, or bots, to do the work. It’s like how you might want to receive a payment for a service you did, where you generated an invoice and reconcile payment manually. With RPA, you can create automation across programs and platforms.
For example, if a customer calls into customer service to get status on an order and that CSR needs to execute multiple manual tasks within the system, that process can be automated with bots. Once programmed correctly, bots will never make mistakes; they’re 100% accurate. They never have bad days, and they work around the clock. These bots free humans to do more high-value work, such as provide additional service to customers where it matters the most.
Bots can be broken down into two fundamental categories: attended and unattended. Unattended bots are designed to run in the background, where they automatically complete back-office functions at scale with minimal employee intervention. Attended bots require interaction; they respond to employee-triggered actions by automatically completing certain tasks to simplify workflow.
Can I automate anything?
YES! Virtually any repetitive task or process can be automated — from automating simple copy-and-paste commands all the way to intelligent, cognitive bots that can tell when a customer is upset and escalate the issue to a human.
Basic commands, such as opening an application, signing in (username and password), cutting and pasting, calculating, and saving and closing, can all be automated. Applications such as CRM systems, back-office systems — including accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and supply chain, as well as customer databases — and more can all be automated.
Where can I automate?
Anyone, in any industry, can benefit from automation. RPA is especially useful in heavily regulated industries such as healthcare and banking and finance. Regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 606, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can impose stiff penalties for noncompliance. RPA will ensure compliance reporting is done correctly and according to regulatory guidelines.
RPA is the key component of the 4th Industry Revolution. This revolution frees humans from manual labor and makes our lives better and easier. And, indirectly, we became more prosperous as a result.
In fact, a study found that workers in an automation-augmented workplace scored 40% higher on human workplace factors over their non-augmented counterparts.
In addition, companies are saving massive amounts of time and money with automation.
But you don’t need scientific research to tell you that you should automate it. It’s now common practice and part of our daily life. And, it’s quite easy.