Robotics in the office is not as scary as it sounds. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can have significant benefits for your organisation, if you know how it’s used and how to deploy it.
RPA tools automate highly repetitive, labour-intensive, and high-volume processes, in turn leaving employees to focus on priority, higher value tasks. There are many existing business applications for RPA, some of which is just the repackaging of the existing screen scraping tools that automate a sequence of human actions on one or multiple applications that run on an end-user’s desktop. This approach can be useful for automating some interactions with back-office applications that can’t be fully digitised, but it does not truly improve the underlying business process and it still pushes the tasks to a user’s desktop.
Many companies have already introduced automated workflows to handle invoice approvals or cash application and exception handling. RPA, however, is capable of taking the level of automation even further. RPA can be used to completely automate, without any human intervention, any task that can be done by applying simple business rules and data validation.
What are the key benefits?
RPA tools are rapidly emerging as a way to cut costs, eliminate manual errors and free up high-value employees for more creative problem solving, exception handling and troubleshooting. In the procure-to-pay space, people often look at RPA as a form of labour arbitrage, as it’s cheaper to use a robot than to hire people to process invoices. This is true even if the work is outsourced to an offshore location. In reality, the bots will free up staff from tedious tasks that take up time in their day so they can focus on the more important tasks and true exceptions that special artificial intelligence (AI) is still incapable of dealing with, as robots ensure that the work is done around the clock, 24/7.