Filling in the “automation gaps” with RPA

Filling in the “automation gaps” with RPA


Robotic Process Automation (RPA), sometimes referred to as software robots, is a way of automating certain mundane, rule-based tasks carried out within businesses. By automating these tasks, business users can instead dedicate more time to other higher-value work or to serving customers.


Finance is frequently cited as a great example of a sector ripe for RPA. That’s because it’s full of high-volume, repetitive, computer-based tasks like financial reporting. By using RPA within departments like corporate finance divisions, it’s possible to save thousands of hours of human labor per year -- adding up to hundreds of thousands in salaries.


But finance -- while it absolutely is a great example of an automatable sector -- is far from the only sector in which an “automation gap” exists. These are areas where software tools such as those made possible with RPA could be used but are not yet. Here are five examples of possible use-cases for RPA disruption.


Onboarding



Companies need new employees. But employees don’t just magically turn up to work on day one in a way that allows them to be as optimally productive as possible. Onboarding includes a great many areas that fall under the heading of providing the right skills, knowledge, and behaviors for new employees to become effective organizational members. Not all of this can be carried out using RPA. But a whole lot of it can. Onboarding a new employee typically involves a whole lot of paperwork, including entering employee information into different systems -- complete with a whole lot of tedious copy-and-pasting employee data into different systems to get everything up and running. RPA can be used to help with this so that human resources staff can focus more on the “human” part of the onboarding process.


Many of these same tools may also be used for other types of onboarding. Consider, for example, the manual processes involved with onboarding new suppliers for a business. RPA tools can be used to assess suppliers regarding validation of address, credit scores, tax data, and more.


New User Provisioning



This one follows on from HR onboarding. Once the onboarding process has been carried out from the HR perspective, it’s typically up to the IT department to make sure that the user in question has all the right user accounts and access to the current applications. While there is likely a lot of automation already in place to create default user profiles, there will also be manual steps, such as requiring administrators to approve certain requests or sending automated emails to confirm the setup.


It’s possible for IT departments to create RPA bots that can carry out a lot of these repetitive steps. At a time when IT departments are more overwhelmed with jobs to carry out than ever, freeing up time can be a valuable proposition.


Managing Contracts



Managing contract renewals is also a time-consuming activity for companies. RPA tools can be used to automate the process of communication between a renewal representative and the customer with an expiring contract. They can be used to send email reminders featuring pertinent information, and handling straightforward renewals.


Where RPA can prove additionally useful is in dealing with exceptional responses. For example, if the customer of a software subscription or annual insurance policies decides they do not wish to renew, RPA can be used to identify different “no” scenarios, and handle them accordingly. This can include escalating messages for human attention in situations where, for instance, the customer wants to talk with a person about a particular issue they are having.


Chasing Invoices



Among the enormous amounts of paperwork generated by many companies are outstanding invoices that need to be chased. RPA tools can be used to automate parts of the documentation process, check invoice statuses, and notify team members if certain documentation is missing. This can rectify payment delays, improving cash flow in the process.


Improving Retail Efficiency



Retail can benefit from RPA tools. RPA tools can, for example, be used to help automate product categorization at both local and global scales, harmonizing product information from global Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) to local ones. If carried out by a human workforce, this process can be inefficient and contain errors. However, by implementing an automated solution -- whereby RPA tools categorize retailer and vendor information sent in image and text form -- it can both improve product categorization accuracy rate and reduce manual effort.


Other retail scenarios in which RPA can be used include the time-consuming task of product returns, customer support information, and even price comparisons -- whereby you can use RPA bots to track real-time price information when this might fluctuate between different suppliers. By using bots to track changes and best pricing, you can extract and easily access the latest catalog pricing.


There’s More



It’s impossible to list every possible use-case for RPA tools because every business is different, with its own pain points and repetitive tasks. However, it’s a good idea to keep checking in to see what RPA can be used for -- especially as these tools gain new abilities, thanks to the integration of certain “cognitive” skills like machine learning.


In many cases, businesses are not taking advantage of RPA methodology as much as they could. These tools can have a significant impact when used correctly. Make sure you’re properly positioned to take advantage of them.

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