Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – 101

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Automating manual and repetitive work by leveraging specialized software robots is known as RPA. At first glance, RPA may seem like simple screen scraping technology however, it is a leading-edge technology that is reliable and scalable. Software robots are agnostic to the systems they work with and are capable of working with both legacy systems and modern systems without the need to integrate. In addition, these robots are able to leverage other leading-edge technologies like Artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots and more to truly automate the end to end process.

How does it work?
After the development and configuration of the RPA system is completed. It can be deployed within your environment or hosted online. Typically, each software robot is setup with a virtual workstation, given credentials, an email address and access to the systems the robot would be interacting with. Some organizations have anthropomorphized their robot into a co-worker and given it a name. Once all the setup is completed, the robot starts performing its tasks much like a human would. They start and close applications, can authenticate themselves, move files and folders, copy and paste data, fill in forms, extract structured and semi-structured data from documents, scrape browsers, perform calculations, leverage external systems and more.

How is RPA different from other automation tools?
RPA is a business first automation solution. All the heavy lifting from a technology perspective is already done. One of the biggest advantages of RPA is, it is non-intrusive and works with the existing tools and systems as they are. There is no need for costly reengineering, messy infrastructure changes or disruption to the business. RPA can be implemented in a matter of months and costs a fraction of traditional automation efforts. See our blog comparing RPA to BPM.

Is RPA right for me?
Any high-volume, repeatable tasks that require staff can be automated. Having said that, RPA is well suited in the following situations:

  1. You have legacy systems. This is a typical scenario that impacts a vast number of business. Modernisation or integration with legacy systems is either not possible or is prohibitively expensive.
  2. You have defined processes that are repetitive. For example, gathering data from multiple systems, performing transformations or calculations then entering the data into another system or generating reports.
  3. You work with personally identifiable information (PII), require high degree of accuracy or require audit trails.
    RPA is also great for solving business challenges in ways you did not think were possible. Especially when combined with artificial intelligence or machine learning tools.

If you’re still not sure, contact us and we can help you with your specific questions. In fact, we will even help you build a business case.

Will RPA or other automation tools replace humans?
Although it is difficult to look to the future. Several studies and papers addressing this very issue have been published. For instance, according to Harvard Business Review, adopting RPA will not necessarily lead to reduction in workforce[1]. Instead most organization will redeploy staff to perform more value-added work. Researchers have also identified the potential for higher job satisfaction due to the fact that the robots will take over the mundane work while the humans perform more engaging and stimulating work. In the RPA community, people often refer to “RPA takes the robot out of the person.”

How/where can I get more information?
This blog discusses RPA at a very high level. To get more detailed information about how RPA could transform your business, reach out to us. Click here to book a meeting with one of our RPA experts at Imagis. Or for more general information, send us an email at info@imagis.ca

About Imagis
Imagis Inc is a Mississauga, ON based independent business advisory firm focused on helping private and public sector organizations transform their business by leveraging leading-edge technologies like Robotic Process Automation, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, internet of things and custom software. Our leadership team are experienced practitioners in their fields, recognized for their depth of knowledge and a track record of making a significant impact on businesses. To learn more, contact us at info@imagis.ca.

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