In a recent survey by Deloitte, 86% of respondents reported that their expectations of productivity improvement from RPA were met or exceeded. But what is RPA and how does it work? Robotic process automation refers to the practice of using software bots to perform repetitive tasks. Unlike traditional workflow automation tools, RPA actions are done on the frontend rather than the backend. Another difference is that RPA can handle data in and between different applications. For example, RPA could take emails containing customer data, extract the data, and enter that information into a CRM. There are many different RPA use cases, and we’ll take a look at what, why, and how you can leverage this technology.
What Are Use Cases in RPA?
A use case in RPA is a way that this technology can be applied in the workplace. A few examples of how RPA can be applied include:
- Imitating actions completed on a computer screen
- Performing specific actions like filling out a form or moving a file
- Collecting, storing, and analyzing data
- Transferring data between different applications
- Triggering automated responses
- Executing transactions
- Compiling routine reports
The list is endless because there are so many different applications for robotic processing automation. To put this in another way, let’s look at what features make these types of actions suitable for RPA.
What Are Good Use Cases for RPA?
Good use cases for RPA often fit into one or more of the following categories:
- Simple tasks
In this context, simple doesn’t necessarily mean “uncomplicated.” RPA is able to handle workflows with different steps as long as those steps don’t require higher reasoning. For example, RPA would be able to gather loan application documents from an email, collect the data from the emails, and then enter the relevant data into a database. However, RPA would not be able to make a determination if the loan should be approved or not. Another way to think about this is to consider the “rules” of each task. Business activities that have strict rules (like “open all emails containing the words ‘loan application’”) are better candidates than those that are more flexible (like “check in on your customers to see where they are in the sales cycle”).
- Repetitive actions
Tasks that do the same thing over and over again are perfect candidates for RPA. This ties back to the “rule” idea—these types of tasks don’t change. Data entry is a perfect example of this.
- Workflows between different systems
If you have a large tech stack that involves legacy systems, virtual desktop infrastructures, or database access, then there are probably many workflows that could benefit from RPA.
Keep in mind that not everything will be the right fit for RPA. In fact, there are plenty of tasks that would be inappropriate to try to automate. These include:
- Tasks that require ambiguous levels of human interaction
For example, while some customer service tasks can be automated, like a simple chatbot that answers FAQs, there are still actions that require human interaction. If a customer comes to a chatbot looking for the phone number, that is an interaction that can be handled by a chatbot. However, an upset customer who has a problem with the product needs to speak with a human being in order to get their issue resolved. Chatbots are a good example of hybrid automation, and there are some situations where no automation is appropriate.
- Complex workflows
While RPA can help with complicated workflows (those that have multiple steps or interactions between different applications), this type of automation doesn’t work for workflows that require higher reasoning. Complex workflows with many different variables or fluctuation in what tasks that need to be performed are difficult to automate.
- Strategy and planning tasks
There’s a reason we aren’t using the term “artificial intelligence” when we talk about RPA—that’s because these bots aren’t really that intelligent. They’re not able to make decisions, figure out a strategy, or learn and adapt to changing parameters. For these tasks, you’ll still need a human.
So, how do you identify a use case for automation? Think about all the factors we’ve discussed above and see if there are any tasks that pop into your head. Another great way to identify use cases in your company is to simply ask your employees. They know exactly which tasks are repetitive and boring—the ones that they don’t want to do! Using RPA to accomplish these activities clears your employee’s time to focus on the work they actually enjoy doing.
Where Is RPA Used in Real Life?
RPA is used in many different places and continues to be adopted. In fact, Forrester predicts that the RPA market will grow to $22 billion by 2025. In a report by Deloitte, these RPA use case examples highlight how real companies are using this technology:
- “Our Payroll group leveraged RPA to reduce the need for manual intervention and shift the focus of 20 percent of employees needed to execute tasks.” – Corporate Controller
- “Eliminating the manual interventions and errors helped us increase consistency and accuracy of our capital projects reporting by about 80 percent.” – Real Estate Project Manager
- “The bots enter invoices at a pace of approximately 15 times faster than our AP employees.” – Regional AP Lead
- “Sales, receivables, and payment posting systems are now integrated with the help of RPA and reducing our IT investment by 20 to 50 percent.” – CIO
RPA gives companies the ability to shift employees from boring, repetitive tasks to more creative and critical activities. Incorporating RPA technology into workflows is not particularly difficult, especially if you enlist the help of a third party consulting service.
Foulk: Helping You Future-proof Using RPA
Let’s face it—we’re in the digital age. Companies have to keep up or risk falling behind. Incorporating RPA into your business is an excellent way to future-proof your business, leveraging technology to create a win-win scenario for you and your employees. Taking advantage of RPA has never been easier. Here at Foulk Consulting, we can do everything from creating bots to integrating RPA into your existing tech stack. If you’re interested in learning more about RPA, read more about our solutions here.