Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a relatively new direction in business process automation that allows to change dramatically an approach to routine tasks associated with manual data entry and processing. The special thing about Robotic Process Automation is that — within the technology — one application (a software robot) does not interact with another application through API (Application Programming Interface), or ESB, but through the existing user interface, meaning that one program interacts with other program and imitates user actions that determine further key benefits of RPA usage:
With Robotic Process Automation, the current IT landscape remains the same due to the use of the existing application user interface. The RPA infrastructure covers the current IT systems. This is may be the best solution for many companies having legacy software, which replacement might be troublesome over the absence of specialists, documentation, or money. Besides, with this technology, the current control system, routine procedures, and data reporting would be unaffected.
Implementation of Robotic Process Automation doesn’t take much time because it doesn’t change IT landscape. You can get tangible results during the first 2 or 3 weeks of piloting. If for whatever reason you have to get back to preceding working pattern, you can disable a robot and return task processing to an employee.
By its very nature, the implementation of Robotic Process Automation goes incrementally, and the output can be seen after robotization of the first process when it cuts costs, improve operational productivity. And you can get all of this with a small investment in the technology, especially, when it comes to the use of open source solutions that don’t need license costs.
To estimate that, let’s list the most obvious distinction between a robot and a human:
Robots are able to complete tasks 24 hours a day. They don’t have sickness, vacations, or blue mood.
Robots don’t mistake. Once properly set, they complete tasks fail safely, without mistakes that inevitably appear in human work.
When the process needs modification, robots can just change the operating instructions, modify the script while employees have to be trained.
Robots keep 100 percent log of their activities. That is very important in order to be in compliance with different legal and technical requirements.
Depending on the type of robotic process, one robot can replace 3 to 8 people in performance.
Robots don’t need a workplace and health insurance.
The RPA implementation gives from 40 to 80 percent of the cost savings for processing business processes. Scaling technology is also simple. If you need to speed up business process, you just turn on another robot rather than search for a new employee, set up a workplace, deliver trainings, and so on. What does it look like in the real life? Does it mean that an employer takes a job from an employee and hand it over to a robot? This is an extreme case, but it is also possible. On a practical level, there are two main approaches to software robotization (there are more of them that we will cover in following articles):
A robot is deployed to the employee’s computer. In this case, the robot does not fully replace an employee, but performs some single-type tasks as a digital assistant. It usually takes tasks that come up on occasions, and there is no need to have a full-time employee to complete them. The installation of a robotization module in the employee’s computer as an addition to current applications may be a solution. When there is a task for the robot, the employee starts the program that processes the task autonomously. You need to understand that during this time the user can’t work on other tasks as the robot occupies the computer. However, the employee can make a call to a client or discuss a shared project with a colleague.
A robot has its own virtual workstation. In this scenario, there is a virtual environment only for robots. It can contain hundreds of different robots working on tasks 24 hours a day. This setup is applicable when you get software robots for mainstream use to complete a plenty of tasks.
All in all, Robotic Process Automation seems a very promising technology. On the other hand, will everyone be able to use the emerging opportunities? The second part of the series about Robotic Process Automation will be dedicated to this topic: Who benefits the most from software robotization, and who cannot use the technology (just yet).