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Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is the use of software or hardware systems to automate basic tasks, just as human workers do, across a variety of applications. This can speed up processes and minimize human error, thereby reducing labor costs and increasing efficiency.

RPA software is designed to assist employees with completing simple, repetitive tasks quickly and easily. The software or robot can be taught a workflow consisting of multiple steps and applications, such as receiving forms, sending receipt messages, checking form completeness, filing the form in a folder, and updating a spreadsheet with the name of the form that was filed along with the date.

Robotic process automation (RPA) assists with office-based tasks which commonly need the ability to complete various types of duties in a precise order. It builds and sends out a software robot that has the capability to open and operate other software. In some ways, the general principle is comparable to old-school manufacturing automation, where businesses automate one area of their workflow—or just one job—and create a robot do specialize in that specific task.

Since office work usually entails the same type of repetitive effort, a physical robot is unnecessary since it is data being manipulated across platforms and applications.

The software used in process automation is programmed to do the tasks assigned to it by employees. It requires very little input from human workers and doesn’t learn or seek out new efficiencies on its own, like big data analysis or enterprise resource management (ERM) software does. Basically, RPA works like a digital assistant for employees who need help with clearing menial tasks that take up part of their day.

In other words, RPA is more straightforward than an AI system or enterprise software that characterized by data integration. Additionally, RPA cost less money comparatively speaking. This affordability paired with the ease of implementation makes RPA a very desirable solution–especially for companies with older systems. Because robotic process automation works well with most preexisting applications, it’s simpler to set-up compared to other types of enterprise automation solutions available on the market today.

Because of the compliance and regulatory filing requirements, RBA is adopted earlier in the financial services industry. Institutions such as banks, insurers, and investment management companies rely on RPA to lessens back-office functions–such as ensuring a Know Your Client (KYC) form is filed or that a credit check is included on a loan application. Automating these processes allows employees to focus their attention tasks with higher return rates. The software is not only more accurate than humans, but it can clear data faster, reducing the overall processing time.

In addition to finance, any industry that uses data or filing can also benefit from robotic process automation. When software is able to reduce costs and increase efficiency without a difficult implementation, it will usually find success in any sector. RPA has already been proven effective the following fields:

  1.    Customer service and CRM
  2.    Accounting
  3.    Healthcare
  4.    Human resources
  5.    Supply chain management


Although RPA has its advantages, there are also some disadvantages to using these systems. They can be expensive and time-consuming to customize and deploy, which may not make them worth it for tasks that require more human involvement.

If left unchecked, RPA systems can have disastrous consequences. A notable example is the case of “robo-signers” in the mortgage industry. These signatories automatically stamped foreclosure documents on homeowners, regardless of whether or not a foreclosure was ethically sound.

Furthermore, this policy did not adhere to government procedures for monitoring the foreclosure process in the mid-2010s, which resulted in a major crisis following the housing market bubble of 2008-09. After robo-signers were made public, foreclosed homes had to be double checked by hand, and companies involved were reprimanded.

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