RPA – Robotic Process Automation

Using Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
to Drive Business Process Improvement

Whether you want to automate a few simple tasks or drive total business transformation, RPA is a BPM tool that can help drive meaningful cost-saving change across an enterprise

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about robotic process automation, and for good reason!

The benefits of the still-emerging technology area – which automates repetitive, high volume tasks – almost seem too good to be true:

  • ROI of more than 200%, often in the first year
  • One RPA bot can do the job of 3-5 office workers – giving overworked teams breathing room to focus on more value-added tasks
  • Dramatically improves processing speeds and accuracy. Among the tasks that can be done faster:
    • Finance close and reporting times
    • HR on- and off-boarding of employees
    • Bill of Materials creation
    • Management of inventory

So, What is Robotic Process Automation?

While RPA is a breakthrough, it’s based on a natural evolution of automation tools that have been used in computer programs for decades. It’s like a macro on steroids – far better than screen-scrapers that duplicate keystrokes.

The first commercial RPA product, developed by UK-based Blue Prism, launched in 2003, and today there are dozens of so-called RPA platforms in the marketplace.

Technically, RPA technology is a platform that resides on top of a company’s traditional information technology infrastructure, living in a cloud or server, and it can work across many business applications.

Think of RPA as a control center for licensed software bots that — through programming, learning and artificial intelligence — process data in business applications like human workers do, but better. These RPA bots, or digital workers, specialize in processing high-volume, repeatable tasks that range from simple to complex with extreme efficiency and accuracy.

A bot can be taught to take over a simple task, such as opening emails in an accounts payable folder of Outlook, “reading” the email with artificial intelligence and then processing the invoice in an Oracle, SAP or QuickBooks app. The bot can be taught to handle certain exceptions and send its work to a human to review and approve in batches.

Or, a bot can be taught a complex workflow requiring multiple steps, logic-based decisions and use of numerous applications. An RPA bot can swivel its virtual chair through different programs and data sets to complete functions rapidly and accurately.

What’s more, enterprise-grade bots, like those offered by Blue Prism, are also extremely fast. Instead of working through the human interface of software programs like humans do, which sometimes come with delays as programs are launch and data is saved, they can work in an app through an API, completing tasks at super-fast speeds in batches.

The benefits of using a bot to do specific tasks – the list of possibilities is long – exceeds the time- and cost-saving benefits of executing the task, too. For example, when a bot does work, it can be 100% compliant with requirements, and its work can be easily traced and audited. Bots can also be easily scaled up or down to meet demand.

In today’s era of super-low unemployment, many U.S. companies are also turning to RPA as a workforce solution strategy. In fact, 67% of CIOs report planning to use automation “to remove the need for additional headcount,” according to the 2018 CIO Survey by KPMG and Harvey Nash.

Is RPA Right For Your Enterprise?

Consider these questions:

  • Does your company feel overwhelmed with disorganization and business process chaos?
  • Does it feel like you have valuable resources tied up with mundane repetitive tasks, when they could be doing more to advance the business?
  • Are you having trouble hiring or retaining quality help for administrative tasks that require high accuracy?
  • Do you have more than four employees at your enterprise who spend most of their day doing repetitive tasks at a computer?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you should explore whether Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology could be saving your company time, money and the challenges that come with inaccurate work.

Let’s Talk About RPA – The Vigilant Process Improvement Workshop

Vigilant offers a 1-2 day workshop to identify opportunities for automation and outline the improvements RPA could have on your business. Here’s how it works:

1Vigilant provides a preliminary consultation workshop to identify 1-3 tasks appropriate for RPA automation, along with a complete Justification of Investment document that outlines the scope and timeline of an RPA project, along with the expected ROI.

2After a decision is made to proceed, Vigilant’s consultants conduct an in-depth assessment of the first process to be automated. This phase will include an examination of the business applications and systems being used during execution of the task, interviews with key business resources, and an assessment of any underlying technology.

3Recommendations may be made to streamline the process before automating, in an effort to extract the maximum ROI value out of the project. Because Blue Prism bots work 24 hours a day, we make an effort to reduce the time-per-task, so the licensed bot can automate as many tasks as possible. This is a vital step for success.

4A logic-based RPA workflow is mapped in Visio, modeled and agreed upon by the client and Vigilant project team.

5Installing licenses and developing bots in the Blue Prism Studio is typically the fastest part of the project.

6During the final “roll and shake” phase of the project, we roll the bots out to take over responsibility for the task and shake any bugs out of the process.

7As part of a rollout, Vigilant also provides a 6-month post-launch project assessment that reviews the security, governance and ROI of the project. Adjustments can be made if desired.