Digital Communication


Digital Communication

RPA: Robotic Process Automation, what is it?


Robotic Process Automation helps companies make software-based business processes more efficient. Robots allow manual tasks to be performed fully automated. For example, this covers certain processes such as contract terminations and ordering processes.

Robotic Process Automation: what is behind this technology

Robotic Process Automation is abbreviated as RPA and can be translated as “robotic process automation”. This technology enables the automated processing of business processes through the use of software robots.

In this area of ​​automation, the robots used copy the manual and repetitive work steps of people, which are often very tedious and prone to errors. This includes in particular the entry or transfer of data in the back office.

Bots or software robots are used for this. They can access and use system components through interfaces, but they also have the ability to control application software. The robots thus endorse human-like activities in a process landscape.

Therefore, RPA not only optimizes human interactions at the user interface of software systems, but also gradually digitizes these interaction paths. In practice, individual tasks or even complete processes are recorded and converted into individual software scripts or entire script chains.

The technology combines different interfaces, such as APIs, and interactions with the existing user interface to run recurring applications.

Scripts can be deployed in different lengths or runtimes. The corresponding execution file is called bot, which contributed to naming this technology “Robotic Process Automation”.

Robotic Process Automation and AI are two different fields

RPA is always equated with artificial intelligence (AI) or mistakenly confused with it. However, the two technologies are fundamentally different and, at best, complement each other. The difference lies in the respective field of application and in the practical implementation:

  • AI is powered by data.
  • RPA is process driven.

RPA bots follow routines defined by the teams in charge of programming. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, relies on existing data to restructure existing data patterns or recognize recurring patterns in unstructured datasets and learn from them, for example through machine learning.

The combination of Robotic Process Automation and AI brings several advantages, because theautomating tasks within RPA routines can be thorough through the use of AI, and more complex activities are also possible. Likewise, the AI ​​is supported by the work of bots, for example by avoiding manual implementation.

RPA is triggered autonomously when applications are running, allowing activities to occur independently across all software systems.

The notion of algorithm often comes up when it comes to artificial intelligence. In a broader sense, it covers a fixed procedure that can solve different tasks by means of individual sequences, for example during a search query in Google.

Benefits of RPA: Manual processes become more efficient

Robotic process automation is mainly used to optimize existing processes and make them more profitable and efficient in the long term. This technology aims consolidate resource-intensive processes in the back office by running rule-based bots, freeing up resources to allocate to more complex projects and activities.

This improves long-term return on investment andspeed up scanning in companies that implement RPA processes. Another consequence of the increase in the degree of automation: the workload of the teams is reduced.

This not only allows employees to improve their productivity, as they can perform higher value-added tasks, but also gradually increases their satisfaction. In addition, more complex tasks can be assigned to employees, such as those that absolutely require human intervention.

The benefits of RPA produce effects external and internal to the company

  • Low programming effort: the implementation of RPA does not involve the intervention of a development team. Drag-and-drop features make it easy to configure the software, even for less technically experienced employees.
  • Reduced error rates: Bots rely on scripts to perform repetitive activities in systems. Sources of human error are thus eliminated in the long term. Tasks that require a high level of precision, especially in the area of ​​compliance, are particularly suited to the use of RPA.
  • Better control possibilities: RPA allows for standardized monitoring and auditing, so that scripts can be optimized incrementally without much extra effort.
  • Equivalent functionality: The use of RPA does not require additional systems, so the integration of an API is not mandatory. Since bots operate on the presentation layer of existing systems, existing processes are unaffected.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Bots are not tied to hours of service and can therefore process customer requests even at unusual times. This allows companies to work around the clock to improve customer satisfaction.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: by eliminating highly repetitive tasks, staff can concentrate on other more interesting and complex tasks; this transfer of tasks also contributes to enhancing the value of the work and therefore to reinforcing the satisfaction of the workforce.

Companies planning to embark on robotic process automation must first meet a number of basic requirements. Indeed, this technology can only truly trigger a tangible increase in efficiency whether high-quality data are available and whether a clear commitment to good data management exists and is being upheld.

Examples of Robotic Process Automation

RPA activities are particularly suited to the reproduction of standardized processes for daily tasks. These include applications used daily by the majority of retail and service businesses. Practical examples are for example:

  • All types of order process
  • Processing customer requests
  • Document creation
  • Payroll accounting and general data management in organizational units

RPA offers enormous advantages, especially in terms of concerns the customer relationship. This is therefore one of the areas where this technology is most often used. This is also due to the increased expectations of many customers, for whom the processing of their requests must be fast, even immediate.

The positive consequences of automation are directly visible thanks to faster response times in the processing of customer requests and a reduced margin of error when processing incoming mail or emails from customers.

The use of RPA also brings cost savings, because the decrease in the error rate results in the disappearance of post-operative treatment cycles. Increasing customer satisfaction also has a positive impact on customer retention.

In many other areas, automation enables significant efficiency gains, for example in the proactive approach to the customer. Here, marketing automation makes it possible to provide potential customers with a panoply of information that complements each other, for example to facilitate purchasing decisions.

Automated form entries

One of the standardized customer relationship processes also requiring a lot of manual effort such as termination of a contract. This procedure can be automated by the RPA, so that the acceptance of the termination and the subsequent review and execution of the termination become automatic.

Standard forms for termination confirmation will no longer be filled out by employees, but will instead be sent to bots in the future. All required forms can be changed here.

Process orders automatically

An order is accompanied by the creation of a whole series of documents belonging to a standard group of documents. Normally this is the order confirmation followed by a payment request. The delivery note is then created and printed, and an invoice is then sent to the customer.

The order confirmation process is a good candidate for RPA because the process sequence of the documents to be created and the data required are standardized and therefore can be prepared in script form to be viewed repeatedly.

Process Mining can support the analysis and improvement of processes before they are automated and thus form the basis for the application of Robotic Process Automation. Companies can thus derive the greatest possible benefit from it.

Bottom line: RPA is useful for companies with strong data management

Robotic Process Automation can improve processes such as communication with customers, which can then positively impact customer satisfaction and profitability. Employee satisfaction and retention is also an important competitive factor for many companies. By subtracting manual and time-consuming activities employees and by offering more complex and exciting tasks, you have the right cards in hand to set up a positive work environment and strengthen the motivation of your employees.

However, RPA does not solve all problems. Basic requirements such as data quality and awareness about data management must be met to enable effective and efficient use of automation.

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