Embracing Robotic Process Automation

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation “RPA” is a software programme, which using recorders and easy programming language imitates human execution of applications, usually for repetitive tasks. Business users control user-friendly configurations and govern it. RPA repeats human interactions with proven technology.It performs common tasks such as queries, cut/paste, merging, button clicks, etc.

One of the popular definition of “Robotic Process Automation” is -

“An application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software, or a 'robot', to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems”.

- The Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA)

Robotic Process Automation is not a physical robot sitting at a desk performing tasks. It is a new alternative to improve productivity, unlocking higher Return on Investment than ERP implementations and Software as a Service (SaaS) which requires more investment in terms of time and cost.

It is the first step and necessary foundation in the enterprise digital operation journey, before implementing cognitive, chatbots and artificial intelligence.

Key Objectives of Implementing RPA

Key objectives of implementing Robotic Process Automation are as follows -

  • Improve customer experience
  • Improve accuracy
  • Manage controls
  • Higher efficiency
  • Reduction of monotonous work
  • Cost saving
  • Skill upgradation of personnel

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the next phase of innovation in the world. It's significant potential to become a differentiator has become evident. Most of the notable players are either assessing possibilities to benefit from this new solution or even proceeding with the first implementations.

Once IT and security risks are satisfied with the IT architecture, the process is documented in detail and can be carried forward for implementation.

Key sectors where RPA is playing a significant role in bringing in process efficiencies include  highly regulated verticals such as, healthcare, banking, financial services and insurance. Other major sectors include telecommunications, utilities, mining, travel and retail.

Functional Areas where RPA implementation is beneficial are as under:

Human Resources
  • Payroll Administration
  • Benefits Enrolment
  • Data of Employees Management
  • Management of Claims
  • Tracking of Leave Applications
  • Routine Query Management
Finance & Accounting
  • Accounts Receivable(OTC)
  • Procurement/ Sourcing
  • Order Management
  • Invoice  Processing
  • Billing Management
  • Records to Report(RTR)
Customer Services
  • Billing Support
  • Query Management
  • Compliance Management
  • Order Processing
  • Sales Management
  • Subscription Management

Target Areas for RPA

Following could be the areas for RPA implementation, which when targeted will result in higher and better return on investment -

Processes requiring High Volume Transactions

Candidates for robotic automation need not necessarily be limited to high-value transactional processes. Any process that is labour intensive, high throughput time or high-cost impact errors is a good candidate. For e.g., cash receipts and payments in banking sector, passbook update, etc.

Items Prone to Errors or Re-work

Manual activities in the process today result in a substantial number of errors due to human operator mistakes. For e.g., cash reconciliation in treasury management, inter branch reconciliation, full and final settlement for employees, etc.

High predictability

The process which can be defined as a rule and do not require much of judgement. For e.g., processing of regular payments, stock management, etc.

Limited exception handling

Simpler processes with little exceptions in delivery are excellent candidates for robotic automation in the beginning. When learning, the organisation can expand to processes which are complex or error prone. For e.g., attendance and payroll management, invoice reconciliation under GST regime, account ledgers balance and tax reconciliation, etc.

Significant manual work involved

Processes with little automation support today and large chunks of manual work involved benefit more from Robotics, although the process does not need to be completely 'straight through processed'. For e.g., MIS reporting, legal and external reporting, maintaining general ledger balance, etc.

Source: www.icai.org