In digital transformation, new solution proposals are appearing on the market that we could classify as technological support for companies to improve their productivity. In this context, what has come to be called “Robotic Process Automation” or RPA (from English, Robotic Process Automation) appeared some time ago, whose description can be misleading if we think it is about investing in robotic hardware.
It is software (not a physical robot) that tries to automate the processes that meet some characteristics:
- Make them repetitive and as often as possible.
- Business rules can manage that.
- Have a large volume
It is an evolution of BPM programs (Business Process Management or Business Process Management) taking advantage of new technological contributions that we can summarize as:
- RPA’s technology, comparable to BPM software, has developed many predefined actions that cover a broad spectrum of situations
- Cognitive technology
- Artificial intelligence
The consequence is that an RPA system:
- It allows organizations to automate at a lower cost and time about how it was done before, which allows reaching a more significant number of companies.
- It is non-intrusive and takes advantage of existing infrastructure without disrupting underlying systems, which would be very complex and costly to replace.
Although it is common to hear, in the companies that sell these services, that the automation of these processes is possible from software “robots,” we consider that these do not differ from traditional methods that have been used for many years, but such Once the term “robot” can provide a commercial value of interest today, rather than a technical reality. However, we will also use the term robot to confuse the reader and because it seems like a minor issue and simplifies the presentation.
In this sense, RPA robots are capable of imitating the actions of human users based on known business rules or even artificial intelligence. In this way, they can:
They can interact with other desktop or web-based applications.
- They can manage files and folders on the storage system with different actions such as create, delete, update, move, etc.
- You can run operating system commands, such as running scripts, etc.
- They can manage emails, both by extracting data from the email and generating and sending emails.
- They can extract text from images through the OCR system of great application in the treatment of invoices, tickets, etc.
- They can manage documents. They can read and write excel documents, doc, CDV, pdf, etc.
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What processes are interesting to automate?
Basically any process high – volume, led by business rules, and repeatable meets the requirements for automation.
Although we have alluded previously, some of the characteristics that processes must have to be automatable are:
- Make them manual and repetitive
- That they are based on business rules.
- That they have a low level of exceptional cases.
- They have standard electronic type inputs.
- That has a large volume of transactions
- That they are mature and stable.
- That they will not change in the short term.
- Make saving important
To prioritize the processes, we must look at some characteristics that allow us to obtain quick results (Quick Wins), such as:
- The maturity
- The complexity
- Saving staff
- The benefit
The objective is to prioritize those projects with quick results and then tackle more complex projects with more long-term results.
If we talk about the different areas of the company, the processes that are usually automated are:
In the supply chain:
- Inventory management
- The management of invoices and contracts
- Cargo management
- Supply / Demand planning
- Returns management
In finance and accounting:
- Accounts receivable
- Supplier management
- Management of customer orders
In human resources (HR):
- Data management
- Incorporations and cancellations
- Telematic interaction with the administration
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What are the advantages of applying an RPA system?
The first thing to consider is that this technology is valid for all business sectors since great benefits can be obtained in almost all company areas.
About the benefits according to the implementation in the different areas of the company, we can highlight:
In the supply chain, the application of RPA improves:
- The life cycle
- The speed, capacity, and efficiency of the assets
- Increase the satisfaction of your customers, suppliers, and employees
- It usually means a cost saving of at least 30%
In finance and accounting: It offers faster work cycles allowing a cost reduction of at least 50% as a consequence of a:
- Greater efficiency
- Greater precision
In human resources (HR): It is a very suitable technology for processes that require capturing and processing data, updating and processing requests, etc. which allows:
- Greater efficiency
- Higher profitability
In general, we can say that the benefits of process automation will be based mainly on:
- Elimination of repetitive tasks.
- Elimination of human errors.
- The automation of the processes entails improving the processes due to the dynamics of the design of these processes.
- Optimize delivery times.
- We have improved customer experience.
- Quick and tangible return on investment, since we can measure it.
- By being able to absorb a greater volume of work, it optimizes the management capacity.
- Improves the stability and flexibility of the processes.
- The processes can be monitored and controlled continuously and in real-time.
In general, the companies that have implemented this technology mainly recognize :
- That costs and times have been reduced.
- That provides them with better information management.
- Its implementation has improved the fulfillment of expectations.
Logically, the possibility of substituting work carried out by a person by an automatic process (robot) provides apparent advantages such as:
- That does not get sick
- You don’t need a vacation.
- You don’t need breaks
- Can be replicated
- It can act from any location
- It minimizes risks since it is less prone to errors.
The final idea is to employ people in higher value-added and more creative tasks.
Robotic process automation RPA is a software technology that enables transactional tasks to be performed in any IT application the way a user would.
The structure of an RPA application is:
- A structured digital data entry.
- A logic of processes based on rules, conditions, etc … capable of acting accordingly with the data received.
Therefore, RPA is a process automation system that allows companies to implement intelligent software systems or software “robots,” which mimic the actions of human users. It can be implemented in many industries, where people perform repetitive, high-volume tasks, freeing them up to perform higher-value tasks.
This system has excellent acceptance because it supposes companies a significant saving in the cost of intensive manual efforts and thus free up capital and resources for activities of greater value.
We can say that robots are here to stay. The sooner you take advantage of its potential, the sooner you will create a competitive advantage for your business. Robotic process automation offers direct profitability while improving business precision.
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