Note: I am not associated with any RPA vendor. All information shared in this article is based on my experience and research.

Consider the new hire onboarding process. In most organizations, an employee needs to be added to multiple systems that do not necessarily talk to each other.

A manager has to create accounts in multiple systems and send out emails to other teams in order to request office space, machine and security badge etc. These tasks are not really part of a manager’s  job description but have to perform these regardless.

For such repeatable tasks, RPA is a good option. The term RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation, here are a couple of definitions.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the 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.

Source: IRPA

Robotic process automation (or RPA) is an emerging form of clerical process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.

Source: Wikipedia

In a nutshell, using an RPA software, you can visually create a flow of how workers accomplish a task, for example.

  • Open browser
  • Login to a website
  • Copy data
  • Open another system
  • Search record
  • Paste copied data
  • Save the record

These clearly defined instructions (“robot”) are then deployed on a machine, where they perform these defined tasks over and over again just like a human would do.

Prefixing “Process Automation” with the word “Robotic” makes it sound very fancy and cutting edge, but as of now if you explore features that various RPA software provide, it would be more appropriate to call it “Repeatable Process Automation“.

RPA is great for repeatable tasks that you can clearly define as a flow along with all the rules. You can quickly automate various swivel chair activities that take useful time from a worker’s day. So instead of workers spending time on doing these mundane tasks, they can focus on real value-add work.

I personally prefer the following definition.

Robotic Process Automation enables organizations to use software robots to complete repetitive, time-consuming work to significantly increase productivity, improve quality and decrease the need for re-work—also usually resulting in improved customer satisfaction.

Source: Verint

Use Cases

You can find a list of use cases for RPA from following sources.

Example

This video from UiPath (an RPA software vendor) will give you an idea of how RPA software work.

Republished/Cited

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