What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotics Process Automation or RPA as it is commonly known, is a method that is used to automate standardized business processes.

It is the used of workflow automation to automate frequently used processes so that stakeholders are free to do more value adding work in the organization. 

RPA can be created by anyone, but it is frequently created by the business process owners and Business Analysts because the creator does not require any programming skills.

This makes it an ideal for process improvement initiatives.

But why should you use Robotic Process Automation?

The Robotic Process Automation technology allows anybody to set up a computer software in a way that mimics how a human being would have performed the business process.

The technology works with the use of RPA robots that use the user’s interface to capture data and work with various applications just like the user would.

These robots can process data, trigger responses and communicate with other systems in order to perform a range of repetitive tasks. 

Some of the advantages of using RPA include the following:

  1. It has minimal capital investment
  2. There is a fast return on investment
  3. It is not dependent on other IT infrastructure. 
  4. It is process driven so the end users can create it with support from IT.
  5. It is highly adaptable to the changing business environment

So how does Robotic Process Automation work?

RPA uses robots to mimic the actions of the end users.

Some of these actions include logging into applications, moving files, filling forms, extracting data, pasting data and scraping browsers.

So, what are the best processes for RPA? 

The business processes that are best suited for Robotics Process Automation are repeatable processes with some business rules that involves the processing of a large amount of data.

For example :

The accounting department in ABC Inc. receives a lot of vendor invoices that have to be paid on a weekly basis.

The steps that the accounting clerk perform to process these payments are :

  1. The accounting clerk runs the payment schedule report from the organizational ERP system to view the pending vendor payments.
  2. They log into the banking website.
  3. They input the vendor’s banking information which they get from the payment schedule information.
  4. They processes the payment.

This task is a manual repetitive and it takes this user a minimum of 3 days to complete.

This process can be automated using RPA, which would free up the user to perform more value adding tasks.

The picture shown below is an example of a RPA process automation using UIPath :