Rise of the Bots: Reaping the Benefits of Robotic Process Automation for Your Business
Our economies and business models are undergoing constant transformation – in part driven by technology and emerging trends. Adaptability and innovation are always top of the agenda items for businesses as a result. One such technology is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Robots, of course, have played a role in the human imagination for a long time. Popular culture alone is replete with anxieties about the rise of robots.
Thankfully, real life uses of robots or RPA are not as dystopian. There are misconceptions and hype around the applications of RPA nevertheless. We’re going to focus on the facts that underpin the business benefits of Robotic Process Automation. This blog gives you an introduction to the general advantages of using RPA tools in your business, how it can be applied across various industries, and most importantly, how you can get started with your RPA strategy.
Robotic Process Automation: An Intelligent Approach to Business Process Automation
RPA refers to software technologies that enables users to build, deploy and manage robots that can emulate human interactions with applications to perform certain tasks. As one of the top technology trends currently shaping our world, RPA adoption is on the rise.
With predictions such as 1 in 3 jobs will be automated by 2025, there are naturally worries about RPA and its end results.
Yet in reality, industries have used RPA – and continue to do so – to automate menial, routine, and repetitive tasks for the advantage of customers, employees, and businesses. These are not merely short-term advantages, but ones that will last well into the long term, equipping your business with the means to innovate, respond to change, remain relevant – and keep your team gainfully employed.
What are the business benefits of Robotic Process Automation?
Boosting the bottom line
One of the most obvious benefits of RPA is the cost factor. Executives are constantly on the lookout for ways to optimize costs their business processes. Using RPA tools to manage day-to-day repetitive tasks such as form completion, opening and answering messages, transferring information, capturing data, and logging into applications or websites (to name a few), means that you do not always have to train or maintain a large workforce to oversee such mundane tasks.
Setting up a digital workforce through the introduction of RPA technology not only helps cut down on the costs of a lengthy hiring process, but also helps lower operational costs such as maintaining office space. This, in turn, leaves you with a budget to re-train or upskill your employees to manage other tasks.
Improving team productivity
Eliminating menial and time-consuming tasks leave your employees with more time to focus on more on tasks that require their domain expertise. This would ensure that employees are undertaking responsibilities that are better suited to their education and skills, which in turn helps them focus on realizing their career aspirations. Teams can be re-assigned to perform more-fulfilling tasks, rather than being replaced (as is often feared to be an end goal of RPA). Removing mundane tasks from your employees’ daily responsibilities can also lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and will help reduce employee turnover. In the long run, you will not only have a more productive workforce, but can also leverage this human capital available to stay competitive.
For example, a UiPath-based RPA solution implemented by Fortude to increase the efficiency of the inventory reconciliation process for a leading Australian food & beverage manufacturer helped cut down the cycle time by a whopping 90%. The RPA implementation reduced the reconciliation processing time from 3-4 hours to 10-20 minutes, freeing up the experts to focus on more strategic initiatives.
Facilitating better access to data and insights
Data is increasingly becoming the lifeblood of organizations today. However, sifting through the vast amounts of data and deriving useful insights from data, when it’s stored in multiple formats, across several different locations by various members of your organization, is no easy feat. From reducing the errors associated with manual data collection and data entry to sorting through data sets to checking for data anomalies and retrieving fresh streams of data in real-time, RPA tools can be used to provide you with the insights and business intelligence needed to make smarter decisions. Data captured, whether it’s about consumer behaviors, resource use or business performance, will give you a better understanding of the trends that are affecting your business so that you can respond or strategize accordingly.
Errors have consequences. While it is only human to make mistakes, sometimes fixing these errors can be very costly. The good news is that technologies like Robotic Process Automation allow businesses to eliminate processing errors, without compromising on timely delivery. For example, in most organizations purchase order processing can be a manually intensive process where minor errors can create bottlenecks in the procure-to-pay cycle. Fortunately, this clunky and labor-intensive process is the perfect candidate for automation.
Fortude recently implemented a UiPath-based RPA solution for a leading Australian food & beverage manufacturer, to fully automate their PO creation process in SharePoint, which resulted in boosting accuracy rates to 99%. In addition, the purchase order creation time was cut down by 10 minutes for every PO issued, thereby helping free up the Purchasing team to focus more on what matters most.
Security is always a critical concern. And when you capture increasing volumes of data, their storage and processing can become a challenge. RPA tools enable you to capture and migrate data in a controlled manner. However, you do need people with the right skills to manage the RPA tools to ensure that the technology is deployed in a correct manner and that there are no security breaches. This ties in the other RPA benefit of eliminating the mundane tasks so that you can up-skill your workforce, allowing them focus on more important matters such as data security.
Increasing efficiency and scalability
Efficiency extends beyond automating routine tasks. RPA can easily integrate with existing (or legacy) IT infrastructure without causing major disruptions in operations. The reduced risk of downtime mean that you can seamlessly transform your business functions without compromising on your service delivery levels or business revenue. And as your business grows, you are well placed to scale your operations while ensuring 24/7 operability. Fortude recently rolled out a UiPath-based RPA Solution to help a leading Australian food & beverage manufacturer integrate its two ERP systems using connectors and APIs. The previously tedious, manual process of collecting new customer records from Sales Force and storing it in Dynamics 365 is now 100% Automated.
The Use of Robotic Process Automation in Industries
A range of industries, from finance to healthcare, have started using RPA to automate certain processes. The use cases of RPA for supply chain dependent industries such as fashion, retail, and food and beverage, in particular, are vast. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the vulnerabilities and constraints within global supply chains and its ripple effect on global goods demand and supply.
The simplification of manual processes and the visibility provided by RPA are particularly useful in in improving operational efficiencies and ensuring supply chain resilience. Businesses can use RPA tools to manage warehouses and logistics, keep accurate records about stock availability and inventories, automate data entry, and track shipments. Using the data captured through RPA tools will be even more important in keeping customers and suppliers updated in a world that’s facing shortages and/or delays.
Industrial robots have occupied manufacturing floors for several years bow, having been deployed along assembly lines to ensure speed and smooth functioning of these processes. Similarly, RPA has a crucial role to play in the manufacturing industry, for example, helping relieve engineering team members of manual tasks so that they can focus on the creation of products and continued innovation.
Getting Started with Your Robotic Process Automation Strategy
Once you have an understanding of the many benefits of RPA and how it can help different business processes, a good starting point is to start formulating a RPA strategy. This requires a technology partner who will understand your business model, identify where RPA can help to make it more efficient, and perform a cost benefit analysis. Fortude has industry-wide experience assessing automation requirements, providing roadmaps for intelligent automation, and building streamlined workflows and bot designs. Apart from the technology, you will also need the people and expertise to ensure that your RPA strategy is implemented as it should. We’ll train your team to understand the technology better as needed and continue to work with you to gain insights of your business performance post-RPA.