Robotic Process Automation
Here’s the problem with robotic process automation:
It sounds complicated.
It sounds technical.
It sounds scary.
Well, I’ve got news for you:
Every business - yes, every business - can do with some RPA.
And you don’t even need to be an expert to use it!
You just need to know a few experts.
We can help you out there.
I can bet you do jobs every day that you hate.
Maybe they take up your time, or maybe they bore you to tears.
Either way, they can be automated.
Translation: a handy bit of software can do a job for you.
Think of Hootsuite - it automatically schedules your social media posts.
But this technology has evolved.
It now involves artificial intelligence and machine learning and has become…
(You guessed it.)
Robotic process automation!
That means it can do way more than just post on your Twitter.
RPA involves software ‘robots’ that can carry out these processes and mimic human workers.
Yep - no human required.
Still scratching your head?
You’re not alone.
Only a couple of months ago we started talking to this vegan food company up in Scotland.
They had just launched and were raking in the cash!
But that was the problem.
They were making too much money.
(I know, I know - how were they complaining!)
They knew how to make a mean lentil burger.
Not a clue.
Here’s what we did:
We took one look at their admin processes and sketched out some software that automated their financial planning.
We created a whole new department for them!
And then handed it over to some robots.
So far, they’ve saved $9,000 with our RPA software.
Want to see similar savings in your bank account?
That’s why I wrote this article.
By the end of it, you should know:
What RPA is
How it works and what it can do
Whether it’s right for your business
And how to incorporate it into your business
What Is Robotic Process Automation?
What Can RPA Do For Your Business?
The Pros And Cons Of RPA
Can My Business Use RPA?
How To Implement RPA In Your Business
Let’s start with the basics.
That way, you’ll be able to keep up.
Let’s start with automation.
Automation is a technology that executes a business process with minimal human intervention.
Here’s an example:
This tool mainly stores and generates super-secure passwords.
But it makes things even easier for customers by automatically filling in login details on certain websites.
So, what’s robotic process automation?
Also known as RPA, it is the use of metaphorical software ‘robots’ that automate manual processes.
Sounds pretty similar to plain ol’ automation, right?
Well, it also uses artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“Woah woah woah - what on earth is that?”
AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines.
Machine learning is a subset of AI - it modifies itself when it is exposed to more data.
Traditional automation can’t handle much variance in a process.
It can predict the best course to take - even with surprises.
It uses intelligence to decide if a process should occur.
RPA software is a broad field and therefore involves a lot of different technologies.
But often, an RPA product will consist of developer tools, a controller and robots.
It analyses the data and makes a decision using the logic it is programmed with.
There are two types of robots utilised in RPA:
Programmable bots - a set of rules and instructions is set by programmers
Intelligent bots - they can analyse data to learn how employees execute processesd
RPA can be used for all sorts of things.
Think of online chatbots that can process customer requests, or software that can process complex data migration.
But a process has to fit certain parameters to be automated.
We’ll cover what it can do later.
So, where did it come from?
Automation has long been present in manufacturing.
Since 1946, in fact.
(It was coined when the automobile industry started using automatic devices in mechanised production lines.)
But robotic automation can be traced back to ‘screen scraping’ - where a program collects data from one application and translates it for use in another application.
Then, it teamed up with APIs, terminal services and AI.
We then arrive at the RPA we know and love!
Any advancement in this kind of technology has been protested.
“If it can replace humans, won’t it eventually put us all out of a job?”
RPA will transform the world of work.
And yeah, some people will have to upskill.
But it will create more jobs than the ones it gets rid of.
I’ll explain how later in this article.
It’s all well and good defining the technical terms.
But you’re not here to learn about machine learning, are you?
You want to know what it can actually do for your business.
Robotic process automation is used to capture and interpret applications for a variety of tasks including:
Processing a transaction
Communicating with other digital systems
RPA is clearly pretty broad.
It can do a lot.
So, I thought I’d provide a list of the different uses of RPA.
Inspiration, if you will.
Here are five examples of how you can use RPA.
#1 - Managing call centre operations
We’ve all been there.
On the receiving end of some automated chatbot.
You just want to change your online banking password!
Do you really need to spend the next 45 minutes over-enunciating ‘y-e-s’ until you finally get put through to a human?
(A human that can actually help you.)
RPA is here to change that.
They can help your employees process user information that much faster.
All their information?
Consolidated on the screen.
Finding a solution to their problem?
#2 - Processing forms
We all hate repetitive tasks like data entry.
Especially the junior employees forced to suffer through it.
RPA bots can pull relevant info and enter it into new systems faster and with greater accuracy.
That means your employees can devote their time elsewhere…
Or you could pocket what you would spend on hiring new workers.
#3 - Onboarding new employees
HR and recruitment can be quite a challenge.
It takes time to find candidates, interview ‘em and match them to the job.
And then you have to train them!
RPA can whittle down the time spent on this drawn-out process.
It can ensure every new employee is onboarded correctly…
Then given the right information to kick off their new role.
#4 - Streamlining the sales department
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was kicking off, we received a call from a client.
An eCommerce firm, if you must know.
We’d already built software to support their recruitment processes.
But they wanted more.
They knew automation was working for their business so far.
(It had saved them $40,000 in 6 months!)
So, they asked us to take them even further.
We probed their processes, leading a workshop to see where we could inject some fresh productivity into their operations.
“Your sales team is awesome.
But they could be even better.”
We built them a CRM system reinforced with RPA.
It streamlines core processes in the CRM software, such as setting up billing for their clients and inputting sales data.
#5 - Scheduling systems
Let’s say you work in healthcare.
When you’re not busy delivering life-saving treatment, you’re pulling your hair out over appointments.
Complex patient details.
Intricate privacy requirements.
Essential medical services.
You need to juggle all of these in a hectic environment.
Robotic process automation is the helping hand you need.
By gathering together patient details quickly and accurately, scheduling can be far more effective.
I told you it can do a lot.
It can take repetitive processes and apply just a ‘lil intelligence.
Your efficiency is through the roof.
Still not convinced?
Maybe Walmart will do the trick?
They use RPA to digitise their documents and speed up core business processes.
What about Deutsche Bank?
They use it to automate trade finance and cash operations.
Ever heard of Walgreens?
Their RPA has streamlined HR and, in turn, made their customer service ‘more human’.
There’s a lot more where that came from...
Robotic process automation sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
And now you know what it actually means, I can bet you’re impressed.
(Like every other global corporation that uses it.)
But the proof is in the pudding.
You want to know what it’s going to provide for your business.
And if it turns your productivity into profit.
SPOILER ALERT: it does.
But justice is blind.
I’m going to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages so you can see fairly whether RPA is best for your business.
In fact, this is one of the first things we did in initial talks with one of our oldest clients.
They were a cosmetic surgery clinic based in Essex and were already versed in automation.
Their admin team was working twice as fast thanks to our software.
But they wanted to make scheduling appointments that much easier.
“This RPA thing…
Sounds great, but I’ve Googled it and I’m not sure it’s for us.
Apparently, it’s putting people out of jobs?”
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this.
Heck, we all have!
We quickly quelled their concerns with some fast stats.
But nevertheless, we always present the pros and cons.
Let’s get started!
No human error
Nobody can get all of their work done, beat the deadline and make no mistakes.
We are human, after all!
This is a real issue with business processes.
But up until now, it’s been unavoidable.
No need to make room for correcting errors.
No need to send apologetic emails to angry clients asking why this isn’t that.
You can rest assured that your RPA tool is getting it done.
And getting it right.
You just have to kick back and relax…
(Make sure you check the results sometimes, just in case.)
It completes processes faster
There are some pretty staggering stats floating around about distractions at work.
Like this one.
Well, I’ve got some news for you: robots don’t get distracted.
They don’t need a cheeky cup of coffee in the morning.
They don’t need to take lunch.
And they don’t need to nip off to the bathroom every couple of hours.
They work solidly.
Even outside of the 9-to-5.
Your employees can’t do that, can they?
(And they shouldn’t - I’m 99% sure it would be a human rights violation.)
Plus, software robots get things done faster, too.
Time is money.
Don’t you want to save both?
It lowers your costs
Money makes the world go around.
And as much as you don’t want to admit it, it’s pretty important to your business.
Yes, we all know how much you care about your company’s mission.
But if you can find a way to cut costs, you’ll do it.
Robotic process automation means you can replace some of your employees with software.
This allows them to focus on tasks that provide more value to a business.
Or it gives you a reason to cut back.
Plus, we all know that when you get things done more efficiently, your costs decrease.
It ensures better compliance
RPA has this handy knack of standardising your processes.
By implementing automation tools into your processes, you have to log each step in your operations.
This results in accurate process documentation.
And when your documentation is up to scratch, you can see whether you are meeting laws and regulations.
No hefty fines.
No stoppages in operating.
It can take jobs
There’s only one problem with RPA.
And to be honest, it’s not much of a problem.
Throughout history, we’ve been convinced that robots are going to take over the world.
Think back to when robots entered the factories.
There was uproar!
Sure, workers were being pushed out of jobs.
In fact, Forrester Research predicts 230 million jobs will be stolen by RPA software.
But have no fear-
These jobs will also be provided by RPA.
It gives employees a chance to break away from repetitive, boring tasks and do work that is valuable to the business.
Who would turn down a chance to upskill?
Sure, change is scary.
And that’s exactly what RPA is.
But change is also good.
It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Boosting your productivity and cutting your costs?
But it isn’t always as easy as that.
Not every process can be passed to a programmer for them to build a tool.
“I hate making sales presentations.
I need a bot to make an in-depth analysis of this data and create a 15 minute PowerPoint bi-weekly.”
Yeah, that’s not happening.
Maybe in a few decades, if you’re lucky.
Your business process needs to fulfill a few requirements first.
If not, it can’t be automated.
As a rule of thumb, RPA is suited best to tasks that are repetitive and manual.
But there are a few other boxes your process needs to tick.
Processes that are a match for RPA must:
Be repeated at regular intervals
Have defined input and output
Have sufficient volume
Not a clue what any of this really means?
I got you.
I’m going to explain each in a little more depth to get you up to speed.
#1 - The process should be rule-based
If it doesn’t require human judgement, ditch the employee.
Logical decision-making that sticks to several different rules is perfect for RPA.
It means data is manipulated and stored according to human-made rules.
So, when RPA is applied it mimics human intelligence.
Here’s an example:
A patient is experiencing several different symptoms of an unknown illness.
They can just input their symptoms into a handy online tool and the RPA is able to allocate them a diagnosis.
This can save their doctor a lot of time in verifying the problem.
#2 - It is highly repetitive
RPA can only be used on standardised and repeatable processes.
That means it is clearly documented and no drastic changes will take place in the future.
A lot of your business processes will fit this definition.
The most common examples include data entry and other basic administrative tasks.
And who doesn’t want to cross them off their to-do list?
#3 - It has defined inputs and outputs
You know what RPA loves?
That’s things like addresses, credit card details and telephone numbers.
If a process relies on structured inputs like templates or databases, it can be automated.
#4 - It has a large volume of inputs and outputs
So, your team is really busy?
It might seem like a good thing, but you need to be able to keep up.
Robotic process automation can help.
Software robots can complete your business processes any day, any time.
You don’t even need to be in the office to meet your targets!
It is the most efficient tool to tackle high-volume processes.
A new customer sends in a big order at 2am on a Sunday?
It’s already taken care of.
So - you think robotic process automation could supercharge your efficiency?
Course you do.
But now you have a new problem:
Actually implementing it into your business.
Have no fear.
I have all the answers.
You have three options:
Get your IT team to build software with RPA
Purchase RPA software
Get in touch with the Lolly Co team
The first option is pretty straightforward.
If you have a couple of automation experts in your company, kick things off with some process mapping.
This allows your team to see the processes that need to be reshaped with RPA.
Then, your team can get to work designing, building and deploying custom-fit software.
But here’s the thing.
That only works if you have an automation expert on the payroll.
What if you don’t?
Then it’s time to find some.
There are lots of automation companies ready to investigate your processes and soup ‘em up with bespoke software.
And we’re one of them!
The Lolly Co team specialises in producing custom automation solutions.
We simply take the processes that are killing your employee productivity…
Reinvent them with RPA…
And save you a whole lot of money.
We’ve already worked with a range of industry-leading companies.
We’re ready to work with you.
By now you should know:
What RPA is
Whether RPA is for you
What it can do for your business
All you have to do now is streamline your business processes.
How hard can that be?
Discover how your company can reach hyper growth with the power of automation.