Although the benefits of robotic process automation, or RPA, have been well documented, not every business has implemented it. Indeed, RPA has its pros and cons. But what is robotic process automation?
As its name suggests, RPA automates routine business activities. Using RPA software, a company creates a "robot" to handle ordinary tasks such as invoicing, which allows employees to focus on strategic or higher-order work. This is an additional benefit of RPA that extends beyond its main purpose — it's also a productivity tool.
Why do companies use RPA?
The benefits of RPA are most evident in the following business activities:
Accounting: Given the repetitive nature of the work, the benefits of RPA are obvious. In creating rules to match purchase orders and invoices, for example, a company enjoys the benefits of RPA by reducing employees' data-entry workload or overseeing layers of approval. (Learn more about accounting software for small businesses.)
Payroll: Regardless of the size of the company, payroll is a necessary but time-consuming activity that can benefit from RPA. Robotic process automation benefits ensures tedious matching of hours worked, as well as vacation pay, overtime, and so on, without error.
Hiring and Onboarding Processes: With 7 in 10 employees likely to stay for 3 years if they enjoyed and benefited from the onboarding experience, the benefits of RPA in hiring and onboarding activities are clear. They are rules-based activities that a bot can undertake easily.
Customer Support: It is increasingly common to be greeted by a chatbot embedded in a business website — it's another illustration of the benefits of RPA. Bots can identify generic or routine queries to direct visitors to the appropriate channels, expediting responses to queries and bringing to life the benefits of robotic process automation.
Inventory Management: Without the benefits of RPA, inventory management is a painstaking activity in the retail and e-commerce sectors, both of which tend to be fast-moving. With inaccuracy of inventory records standing at 60%, the benefits of robotic process automation will amount to time and cost savings.
What are the robotic process automation benefits?
In this section, we will discuss the benefits of RPA when successfully implemented in a company's business process.
With the benefits of RPA, human errors can be eliminated in repetitive and routine tasks. Many of these are tedious business processes that can benefit from the advantages of RPA.
Next, the benefits of RPA will help companies meet the challenges of today's ever-evolving business environment. RPA benefits companies seeking to manage growing-up pains, which can be debilitating in some instances.
The ostensibly major benefit of RPA is the ability of the software to evaluate the performance of the bots; hence, the workflow of the activities it undertakes. The data and insights gathered can be used to improve the company's business processes; hence, its competitive edge in an ever-evolving business environment.
Finally, another benefit of RPA is the ease of implementation and adoption. To leverage the benefits of RPA, companies do not need to have employees with coding, programming or deep IT skills.
Moreover, bots can be deployed without causing major interruptions to existing workflows; they simply bring the benefit of RPA by automating them.
What are the disadvantages of RPA?
As with any automation, a major disadvantage of RPA is job losses, predicted at 24.7 million. Over time, it is inevitable for bots to displace employees previously performing routine and repetitive tasks. This disadvantage of RPA can harm employee morale.
Old habits, though they may be good, die hard, but robotic process automation will require their eradication, a disadvantage of RPA. In the course of it, this disadvantage of RPA may lead to the premature departure of employees.
It's still early days for RPA; hence, a disadvantage of RPA is the cost of procurement --- which remains high -- as well as the cost of fixing unanticipated outcomes. This disadvantage of RPA is known to stall companies in initiating implementation.
Another potential disadvantage of RPA is the weak link between effort and outcome. Allocating a percentage of the tasks to bots does not necessarily translate to similar or more savings in cost or improvement in the bottom line.
When is RPA right for your business?
If your business is experiencing either of the situations below, RPA may be a step in the right direction.
Increasing volume of routine and repetitive tasks: Increased headcount, for example, lends itself to automation and the benefits of RPA. An advantage of RPA discussed above is the scalability it brings to growing companies. The probability of human error increases with an increase in the volume of work, which can be eliminated by RPA.
Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): Both AI and ML will transform the business processes of companies seeking to remain competitive. Hence, if your industry is on the cusp of this transformation, the benefit of RPA is it prepares your company for a smooth adoption of AI and ML.
Stable business process environment: The benefit of RPA can be most felt when bots assume activities that are stable; in other words, time-tested and proven workflows. Human errors are eliminated and employees can be redeployed to perform other tasks.
High predicted ROI: When a high ROI is attainable, the benefits of RPA will help a company realize it. As RPA is a low-cost tool that is easy to implement, the ROI can be realized sooner than later.
How to get started with RPA
Are you ready to reap the benefits of robotic process automation? Let our team of consultants walk you through the RPA implementation process. Book a free demo today.