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What is RPA?

RPA is phrase ‘Robotic Process Automation’. RPA technology uses software robots which take over routine tasks in administrative processes from people and continue to perform them automatically.

RPA is able to fully replace employees’ activities associated with operating different computer applications. Deployment of Robots offers many positives – the most important ones include:

  • Cost reduction/ FTE reduction: typical return on investment in robotization ranges from 2 to 6 months
  • Error rate reduction: by implementing robot processes , it is possible to eliminate human factor errors
  • Significant acceleration of processes: robots are able to work with any application faster than a user and they operate in the 24/7 mode
  • Added value: robotization of processes eliminates repetitive and tedious work and it unlocks capacity of skilled emploees for more valued tasks.

How the robot works

Based on the user’s processing actions, that are being automated, an assignment for robotization is created. The description of the activities is prepared in similar detail as in the preparation of the instructions for the employee who would perform the activities.

The robot then performs the prepared process scenario repeatedly or when the input conditions are met. The robot only uses user-interface applications the same way as a regular user, without the need to change applications and systems.

All robot activity is logged and a qualified user is notified if an exception or non-standard situation occurs.

RPA technology allows for processes to be performed without user intervention in the 24/7 mode with lower error rate and higher efficiency.

Suitable and unsuitable processes

Robotizations are used in many areas, especially in back-office departments, AML and KYC audits, accounting, processing of new clients, reports, checks, requests, rewards, updates and, last but not least, in preparing data or reports for further processing.

Suitable processes

Robotization is particularly useful:

  • in transactional processes
  • in processing larger volumes of data
  • with activities with a well-defined procedure
  • with activities with a high number of repetitions
  • with regularly repeated activities
  • with activities which do not require knowledge and experience of employees

Unsuitable processes

Unsuitable processes for robotization are activities:

  • requiring creativity, experience and knowledge of employees
  • not having a uniform and well-defined procedure
  • involving work with unstructured data
  • involving text information analysis
  • answering queries, and interactive human communication

What does a typical process look like?

A typical suitable process can be presented on a simple example of the task of evaluating and processing rewards. Part of the HR’s agenda is to evaluate monthly bonuses of sales agents. It is an activity of calculating bonuses on the basis of sales made in the previous period. The process is performed by an HR employee, who downloads information from the SAP, or other database, and saves it into XLS and then – following predefined criteria – assesses the claims bonuses payable. This assessment is performed in Excel. Another HR employee fills the bonuses into the payroll system based on the prepared data.

This is a typical process suitable for robotization: it is a periodic routine activity using structured data. The entire process can be easily replaced by a robot.

What you need to do to automate the process

Once the processes to be automated have been identified, the following analytical steps are required for their automation:

  • Procedural Analysis

    • Is the process algorithmizable?
    • How time consuming is the process?
  • Procedural Optimization

    • Is there a way to streamline the process?
    • Can it be adapted to batch processing?
    • In which steps of the process is the human activity irreplaceable?
    • Is it worth automating it?
  • Creating Procedure for Robotization

    • Instructions on how to perform the process (as for an employee who should work only using these instructions).
  • Creating Conditions for Robotization

    • Assigning a robot a dedicated workstation.
    • Ensuring access into applications.
  • Preparation of Automation in the Test Environment

    • Robot configuration.
    • Verifying proper functionality on test data.
    • Acceptance of process functionality.
  • Adjusting Automation for the Production Environment

    • Changes related to differences in test and production environments.
    • Verifying proper functionality on production data.
    • Acceptance of robotic process functionality.

How is a typical process performed

The operation of an automated process runs on a regular basis, or runs automatically based on a predefined event. Regular operation of the robotic process can be planned outside the peak hours and thus the software infrastructure workload can be optimised.

The figure below illustrates an example of an automated process that runs regularly every day at 6am. After processing all the records (step 6), the automation operator checks the processing results (step 9). This is also the only step with human input into the process. Entries that could not be processed automatically are handed to workers for manual processing (step 10).

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