For a few years, a new syndrome spread in the business world : the bore out or boredom bore out syndrome. This illness would be caused by very repeated and boring tasks at work.
Yet, they are supposed to disappear with the RPA (Robotic Process Automation) which will automatize manual and repetitive actions.
According to a study published by Forrester Research in 2020, more than four million robots should be dedicated to sales or administrative functions by the end of the year.
Let’s focus on this phenomenon that could help you to boost your company.
What is the RPA ?
The Beginnings of the RPA
A lot of experts consider the Robotic Process Automation is the result of the evolution of various technological innovations which were created in the 50’s :
- 1950s : creation of macros (that we find in Excel nowadays) which is the automatization of computing in an informatic program.
- 1980s : it becomes easier to recuperate the date in order to extract the information thanks to the data scraping.
- 1990s : web scraping, which is the recovery of content from a website to reuse it in another context.
These same experts talk about three big wave of RPA :
- The first programmatic automatization wave with Excel macro
- The second wave with the test automatization
- The third wave with the development of safety tools able to meet precise and specific business needs.
How does RPA Work ?
The concept of RPA is to replace tasks which used to be repetitive by a robot. In practice, RPA is when you implement a software robot that will be able to perform a number of tasks.
In order to do that, someone has to provide precise instructions. In consequence, there is no intelligence behind.
In general, we could say that all repetitive tasks realized by humans with the help of a computer could be automated if the action could be realized without human assistance and with cognitive skills.
Here are few examples of tasks that could be easily automatized :
- Email management and automatic answer
- Invoice management
- Fiscal year management
- Change management in relation with a customer or a provider (e.g when a customer changes his email address)
Let’s take the example of a company that must provide administrative progress reports. It takes some time because you often juggle between an SAP application and a web portal.
An RPA can easily take care of this task by the automatization of the data extraction from applications to transfer it in the future on Excel and print it.
Do not get BMP, RPA and Artificial Intelligence mixed up anymore
If you get informed about RPA, you surely saw terms that can be confusing. Even if it is about activity and business process optimization, they are very different.
BPM is a method. Its main goal is to analyze, improve and execute continuously all processes of an organization in order it reaches all aims rapidly.
A BPM analysis would allow you to answer the following questions : “who is doing what, when and which material or help is used ?” since the method includes both company and customer / provider systems.
We can define artificial intelligence as all algorithmic technologies that allow us to realize complex tasks reserved to the human brain until now. It stimulates human abilities such as reasoning. It divides in two branches :
- Machine learning : it’s when an computer program is able to learn in order to perform a task at the end
- Deep learning : it’s a reproduction of the brain which allows us to learn things from examples. It is composed of an artificial neuron network.
Alongside, we can affirm that RPA refers to the mechanical part (the robot) while it can work and process more or less complex actions thanks to the AI.
Besides, these past few years, experts have invented a specific expression for the alliance between RPA and AI : IPA or Intelligent Process Automation.
A company does not need to choose between BPM, RAP or AI. It can choose a BPM, a method of digitalization. Then, inside it, it can choose to implement RPA or AI technologies within the use it will have.
What are the Perks to Choose the RPA in your Business Digital Process ?
Improve your Relations with your Customers
Imagine customer service available 24/7… Technologies such as chatbots enable us to maintain contact with customers in any moment, at any place… All the requests are taken care of at the same time.
The information is clear and consistent in every channel communication used by the customer in order to bring him entire satisfaction.
Refresh your computer infrastructure
Before any action, an audit is mandatory to inventory what you already have and the tools you need to reach your goals.
Thus, it is not only about the RPA but your entire computer infrastructure that is going to be tested to see the different risks and what you can do to improve your productivity.
Reduce your cost
There are many ways to reduce your costs. Nevertheless, most of the time, there are many ways to reduce your costs.
Nevertheless, most of the time, your actions will have a negative impact on your productivity or the employees’ conditions.
Contrary to popular belief, most modern computer servers have a low operating cost. RPA can therefore be a good way to reduce your costs without negatively impacting your expenses or the satisfaction of your employees.
Improve your general and your data security
Companies have to process a lot of sensitive data. With time, they are more protected with for example the GDPR (General Data Protection and Regulation) in Europe. Users and customers are aware of all the risks.
They are afraid for their private life. Therefore, in order to reassure them, data is processed by new technologies. It is less accessible to humans so it is more secure.
More generally, the execution of the RPA is reliable and all the actions are recorded. Yet it is easier to control and reduce the risks.
Prepare your company for the future
The future of the business should be marked by a hyper-automatization and artificial intelligence. Your company can be one step ahead from its competitors if you decide to invest now in new technologies.
Contrary to what lots of people think, RPA perks are more than simple automatization. Human beings are able to spotlight all their skills such as creativity, decision making…
The steps to implement an RPA
You’ve already understood it : you can differentiate your company with the RPA. However, the introduction can be quite long and it’s compulsory to follow some steps to have an RPA adapted to your needs and optimized for your organization.
Choose the tasks that can be perfected with the RPA
In order to know if a task can be automatized, you have to answer the following questions :
- Is it manual and recurring ?
- Is it based on rules ?
- Does it have structured input data ?
- Does it have a low exception rate ?
You also need to consider the ROI (Return of investment) compared to the trading volume and the number of full time equivalent. From three full time equivalents, we consider that the task could be eligible for the RPA.
Of course, other criteria such as the number of robots necessary are important.
Define your team
This implementation comes into play in your team. First, the technology would modify the work of your team on the field.
They will be detached from administrative tasks and they will be able to be focused on more productive missions.
Second, you have to think about the employment necessary to analyze the data and materials handling.
Thus, you should recruit data analysts and RPA managers. It’s important to highlight that some companies offer a business plan to support employees interested in working with RPA.
Define a governance pattern
We saw all the profit for the RPA. Nevertheless, we can’t forget that it could create some risks that the ISD should be able to prevent and analyze. This necessarily requires the establishment of effective governance that allows a balance between benefits, risks and priorities.
RPA expertises are rares on the market, it would be mandatory to think about the skills necessary within the company so that the implementation is a success.
Then, the company must realize that it will be dependent on these “digital workers” for certain specific actions. Thus, a single small change in the system of the latter can quickly lead to a regression in the operation of the robots.
Communication is central to this, hence the importance of involving employees as much as possible. At a certain level of maturity, the business might have the ability to fully track business continuity. Three steps are then recommended:
- Preventive measures which test regression and functionality of error recovery
- Detective measures which prepare a blank test and an error report before an event
- Corrective measures which bring emergency change on the robot in case of problem
Define the tools that will make up your RPA
There are various tools to help you to implement an ideal RPA technology even if you don’t have an important structure. Here are a selection of two popular tools that might help the digitalization of your organization.
Ansible is an Open source search engine based on Python. It allows the automatisation of the software provisioning, configuration and application deployment. It’s an orchestration tool which enable to easily manage servers thanks to two components :
- Modules are the work unit. Each module is independent and can have its own computer language. The main property is idempotence which ensures that no further operations can be performed once the system has reached the desired state.
- Playbooks are YAML files in which are mentioned all the tasks to do.
Ansible offers a good balance between a moderate learning curve, a good capacity of working and a very active community.
Blue Prism is the actual RPA leader and offers a platform in which you will be able to build, administrate and control RPA technologies. Currently, we find both Cloud and On premise versions. You will have :
- Graphics and dashboard for all means you possess
- A workshop where you can develop RPA objects and processes. Then, it appears in successive boxes where each box is a task to do
- The control room where it is possible to execute the technologies created
- A center room for data workflow
The license includes a complete platform (development, analysis) and is often uploaded. The design is both simple and neat. In consequence, the program is very easy to use.
Choose your type of RPA
According to the task and your goal, different kinds of RPA exist. Each one possess its own specific characteristics
On one hand, the assisted RPA is when the assistance of a third party is necessary. This last sends the commands from the back office to the robot which will execute the actions in real time.
We will use it for tasks that can’t be entirely automatized. Most of the time, the robot strats the task and the employee finishes it because it requires judgment, validation or an elaborate answer.
On the other hand, the non assistance RPA (Unattended automation) does not require any external assistance. The robots execute the task in autonomy. We will use this kind of automation for simple task on a large scale.
Everything is made automatically from the programming of a sequence by a human. In that case, the exception is not possible because we standardize the task.
In case of mistakes or if the robot is not able to determine the rule to apply, he suspends the execution and waits for the new instructions.
Finally, we have the cognitive RPA, the most complex level. Actually, it is the IPA we previously mentioned or the association between RPA and artificial intelligence.
The machine not only executes the task independently but also learns progressively. It imitates the circuits of human thought without, however, taking initiatives that would go beyond the planned framework.
Indeed, he will always act within the framework that will be planned at the start.
SAP offers an intelligent and innovative cognitive RPA solution that allows you to create intelligent bots through a hyper-automation platform.
Do not hesitate to contact us to get more information on the subject.
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