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RPA in a Nutshell: How to Use RPA in Your Company

Reading Time: 3 Minutes 25.05.2021 Currents & Trends

What Will the Future of Process Automation Look Like?

Process optimization and digitalization are topics that are currently relevant to modern companies. Managers and employees want to know how to increase their efficiency and how to identify and optimize processes that can be automated. The answer could be robotic process automation (RPA).

  1. What is RPA?

    In a nutshell: RPA (robotic process automation) is a software robot that automates front and back office processes. The technology imitates human users operating a computer, running applications and initiating digital processes.

    The advantages of RPA:
    → Reduced costs and increased efficiency
    → Less mistakes and higher quality
    → Higher employee satisfaction

    RPA differs from other automation technologies because it doesn't need an elaborately programmed application interface nor modifications to existing systems or the corporate IT infrastructure. The scalable software bot is usually hosted on virtual machines and available around the clock, accelerating other processes.

    The RPA operates based on defined rules, reducing the workload of routine tasks and the risk of errors during data processing.

  2. What can RPA do?
    The software robot completes its tasks based on a defined workflow by imitating the behavior of human users. The bot is capable of logging into log into various applications and complete repetitive tasks that were previously handled by employees.

    Typical tasks for RPA:

    → Moving files and folders
    → Copying, pasting and comparing data
    Filling out forms
    → Extracting structured and semi-structured data from documents

    In general, RPA can be used for all structured processes that follow clear instructions and recurring rules.

  3. What processes are suitable for RPA?

    proALPHA presents six use cases in which robotic process automation shows great potential:

    1. Updating master files of customers, suppliers and employees
      RPA significantly reduces the administrative effort involved in updating master files. The system analyzes and processes the incoming change notifications and automatically confirms them to the respective sender.

    2. Entering and processing purchase orders
      The order process is usually a standardized procedure that is improved by RPA to make it more efficient and cost-effective. The bot autonomously completes tasks such as sending the order confirmation, printing the shipping document and issuing the invoice.

    3. Status reports and shipment notifications
      Many customers attach great importance to package tracking. Thanks to RPA, the robot updates and communicates the data if required. Moreover, it is capable of logging orders in planning systems and entering collection times in customer portals or freight forwarder portals.

    4. Communicating with customers and users
      Recurring customer and user requests are processed automatically in order to increase customer satisfaction. In addition, the system prioritizes customer requests by assigning important issues to the specialist responsible. Upon request, the RPA system automatically transfers documents like account statements and invoices upon request.

    5. Filling out forms
      The software robot is capable of identifying typical customer requests and processing all corresponding forms. The employee's only task is to archive the documents to ensure that the request can be monitored at any time.

    6. Performing computations
      RPA also relies on the software robot automatically computing values and lines in a compliant manner and without any errors. The software robot autonomously derives decisions and executes if-then statements based on the results. Human intervention is required only if things get tricky.

The implementation of RPA is particularly beneficial for areas with a high number of recurring processes. It significantly reduces the employees' workload while noticeably increasing the productivity and efficiency of the company.

In order for RPA systems to be able to also handle complex processes autonomously in the future, developers are already working on cognitive software robots which are continuously improving thanks to AI (artificial intelligence). Further fields of application remain to be seen.

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