While business process automation may seem to address mainly trivial and insignificant tasks, it can in fact slash business costs, boost workflow efficiency, while also minimising the possibility of human error, with shorter customer turnaround times in the specific case of retail and customer service sectors.
Will robots replace humans at work? Certainly not everywhere and not everyone. It is difficult to imagine a robotic teacher, doctor or lawyer. However, even these industries feature processes and tasks that can be successfully automated. These are repetitive, tedious, time-consuming activities that require little creativity or deep thinking from the employee. Does this mean that robotisation will cover only unimportant areas of work for businesses and companies? Nothing could be further from the truth. While business process automation may seem to address mainly trivial and insignificant tasks, it can in fact slash business costs, boost workflow efficiency, while also minimising the possibility of human error, with shorter customer turnaround times in the specific case of retail and customer service sectors.
Business processes play a role in every company. They are a series of interrelated activities and tasks, performed in a specific order, following specific rules and structure. Their implementation serves a specific purpose and is intended to produce a specific outcome. Business processes have been successfully automated for several years. This means that human labour is being replaced by a machine (e.g. in industry) or a computer program (applicable in all industries). While the term ‘robotisation’ is often used synonymously with the term ‘business process automation’, it is in fact just one type of automation, pertaining to processes executed through a computer robot. Robotisation saves time for employees who, rather than focusing on monotonous, automated tasks, can engage in more personalised interactions with customers and generate higher benefits for the company.
Automation has unlimited applications and is used for a wide variety of purposes, such as:
Before you decide to robotise a particular process in your company, answer three key questions:
If you answer YES to these questions, it is a good idea to implement RPA tools in your company.
CHALLENGE: Employee induction in a company takes time, involves IT, HR and administrative effort, while also requiring a number of time-consuming, repetitive, automated activities, such as issuing permits, providing information on procedures and policies, providing necessary data, creating a user account, mailing list, business card, email database, profile, etc.
RPA SOLUTION: A specifically programmed robot can replace employees in departments and teams, while also taking the new employee through successive induction stages. The robot automatically sends the instructions, information and explanations necessary to get the team started and in doing so reduces the time and need to involve other workers in the task.
CHALLENGE: Searching for job candidates according to specific criteria that meet particular requirements is a laborious and time-consuming process. It requires searching databases on a daily basis, verifying keywords, reading, analysing and checking whether the candidate actually matches the employer’s requirements, and then repeatedly sending job interview invitations.
RPA SOLUTION: A robot can successfully replace HR staff in the headhunting process, while also supporting invitation mailing as a way of optimising processes and business costs. The robot can search for employees according to keywords or set criteria. It can then automatically review candidate messages, profiles, networks and previous employment history against a potential employer’s requirements. After creating a database of potential candidates, the robot sends automated, personalised (grammatically and contextually correct) welcome messages and job interview invitations.
CHALLENGE: A software failure, a technical problem, customer queries, housekeeping issues – in order to solve problems of dozens of employees and answer customer questions in a company, you sometimes need a helpdesk department staffed by several people. Their job is to answer and resolve repetitive queries and challenges. This is done over the phone, by email, through instant messaging, and requires the commitment of many people, the tedious repetition of identical formulas, the sending of automated content and messages. On one hand, doing this is essential for the smooth running of companies, on the other, it is inefficient.
SOLUTION: In a helpdesk situation, robots can boost company efficiency and tweak operating costs. The robotisation of repetitive activities requires developing quick-response procedures, compiling a list of Frequently Asked Questions and inquiry handling policies that can be sent automatically to employees or customers who need help.
CHALLENGE: Entering data associated with payroll, benefits, business trips and travelled mileage is a time-consuming and repetitive process requiring concentration and accuracy. This job is assigned to HR and payroll departments where it is vulnerable to errors and slips which can cause payment delays.
SOLUTION: When used for payroll handling, RPA can help avoid mistakes, streamline employee billing and optimise costs. The robot can pool data from various systems, count working hours, automatically check and account for employee benefits and entitlements to provide correct billing. RPA is able to handle the entire payroll process from data entry to payment closure in less time than a human, with better accuracy and without the risk of errors.
CHALLENGE: Business meetings, events, customer contact, company events – the multitude of tasks in a company means juggling multiple schedules. We can do that by hand, but more often than not the company has a department responsible for making sure that everything runs on schedule.
SOLUTION: RPA relief to workers. Based on the schedule and pre-planned events / meetings / conferences, the robot analyses the data and sends automatic notifications about upcoming events and any necessary information about the need to prepare the necessary tools.
CHALLENGE: Companies often have systems that are out of sync with each other, e.g. ERP and CRM systems used by many businesses. Data transfers between systems, copying information, checking compatibility between the data of different databases is tedious, time-consuming, inefficient and often costly, as it takes additional manpower.
SOLUTION: Cost optimisation and facilitating the time-consuming processes of data transfer between systems is possible with Robotic Process Automation. Appropriately programmed robots can retrieve data from various databases, process and copy it, while also verifying its compatibility and applying updates. RPA allows complete automation of database processes, from collecting data to processing, to transfer, compliance verification, updating and archiving. A process that an employee would need hours to complete now takes minutes, significantly increasing employee productivity and reducing time spent on repetitive, tedious tasks.
CHALLENGE: What time did you come to work? What time did you leave? How much time did you spend on project 1, how much on project 2? What about holidays, business trips, business meetings? And most importantly: how do you calculate, keep in order, verify and account for all this at the end of the month? If an employee does this, it takes hours and requires constant time watching. For the employee it is tedious and time-consuming, for the corporation it is inefficient and of no tangible benefit.
SOLUTION: The processes associated with employee work and the costs of handling these tasks can be optimised through RPA. Modern RPA programmes are able to verify the data entered and automatically analyse and bill business trips, conferences, business meetings, as well as data on specific employee tasks. Robots can also account for holidays and request missing information by dealing directly with the relevant employee.
CHALLENGE: Invoice processing is a time-consuming and tedious process although it may not look like it. Customers or partners often deliver them in different formats, on different media (paper, e-mail, PDF, MS Word, etc.), which means that invoice data needs to be transferred manually into a harmonized system or database.
SOLUTION: Time-consuming invoice processing can be optimised as a way of saving time and energy for your employees. A properly configured robot can automatically process an invoice received in any format, verify the data contained in it, enter it into the appropriate database and even correct errors. What’s more, RPA even allows invoices to be automatically generated without the need for employees.
CHALLENGE: Financial operations are a key part of business. Payments to and from contractors, transactions between partners, invoicing customers – each of these tasks involves not only painstaking data entry and number crunching, but above all checking the companies and contractors we do business with. Are they trustworthy, do they meet the legal criteria, do they operate legally? These questions take dozens of hours to answer.
SOLUTION: There is a way to optimise costs and labour in contractor verification tasks. RPA technology can screen and check hundreds of financial transactions for reliability and legal compliance in a short period of time. The robot analyses all data on the basis of VAT numbers and automatically verifies the necessary information.
CHALLENGE: In customer service companies, one of the most important tasks is to attract and keep customers. To meet this goal, employees have to complete a number of tedious, labour-intensive and time-consuming tasks. From sending quotations, to acquiring customers, to checking the existing customers’ financial potential or credit rating.
SOLUTIONS: The tedious and time-consuming activities associated with document verification and commercial/service materials can be optimised and costs reduced. This works well in corporations thanks to RPA. Robots can take customer data, verify it against criteria, analyse income, credit limits, check debts in other banking systems and document compliance, and then send automatic notifications (e-mails, text messages) of credit decision, overdraft limit increases or offers and bargains for new services and products .