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Robotic Process Automation is Old Technology

Tim Timchur, Managing Director, 365 Architechs, is a qualified accountant, cybersecurity professional and governance and risk management expert.

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Robotic Process Automation is Old Technology

 

There is nothing new about robotic process automation.  It’s another buzz word that seeks to make it sound like it’s the latest thing that you just have to have.  There is another word for robotic process automation, or RPA, which is “automation”. 

 

Businesses have for a long time, sought to improve the efficiency of their operations by automating parts of their processes.  It could equally be called “process automation”, and in fact, is often called that.  So where does the robotic part fit in?  Well, in this case, a robot, or bot, or application, or software, or whatever you would like to call a non-human, does the automation.  It would hardly be sensible to refer to a process that is automated because a person is doing the activity.  Therefore, robotic process automation, process automation and automation, are in fact, all the same thing.  As we have been doing it forever.

 

Some may say that RPA requires an element of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to really be RPA.  Yet this is certainly not the case for many RPA solutions on the market today.  Others might suggest that Big Data is a necessary element, but the same problem exists.

 

So what this means, is that you may already have implemented many RPA projects without realising it, or specifically referring to them as RPA.

 

Robotic Process Automation is Awesome

 

But don’t think that just because RPA has been around for a long time, that it isn’t a valuable technology that you shouldn’t be investing in heavily. 

 

RPA has the potential to significantly improve profitability, reduce costs, improve efficiency, improve employee engagement, reduce rework, improve quality and delivery more consistent products and services to your customers. 

 

RPA is awesome!

 

How does RPA Work?

The first step in getting started with RPA is to understand what processes exist in your business.  It can be a very eye-opening experience to just write a list of all the different things you do.  If you have any procedure documentation this is definitely the best place to start.  If you’re really curious about the value of streamlining processes, I’d recommend you read a book called the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. 

 

The second step is to look at which processes should be automated.  You are looking for ones where there is a fairly standard process that’s easy to describe.  An example might be a team member applying for leave, or claiming work-related expenses.

 

The third step is to document the existing process.  Some people find that they are really good at this, while others find it impossible to envisage every individual step in a process.  Don’t underestimate how time-consuming or difficult this can be.  Business Analysts build a career out of documenting processes and typically use visual diagrams to show steps.  This is also an opportunity to consider whether or not the existing process is correct, or could be improved.  Look for non-value-adding steps in your process and consider if they can be eliminated.

 

The fourth step is to determine how technology can be used to automate parts of the process.  Note that you don’t have to automate everything to get value from this.

 

The fifth step is to build a solution, either internally or with the aide of an external organisation such as 365 Architechs, or potentially to purchase a ready-made solution if one exists.

 

The sixth step is to communicate changes to team members and to test.  Once you think you have tested enough, test some more.

 

Getting the most value from RPA

Robotic process automation can deliver significant benefits by itself.  However, when combined with cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobile computing and business intelligence, RPA can really make a substantial difference.  Together, these technologies can deliver a digital transformation for any organisation.

 

In the old days we called it “innovation”.  Then the term “transformation” became the new buzzword.  Nowadays it’s “digital transformation”.  It doesn’t really matter what you call it.  There isn’t anything new about being innovative.  One of the most innovative technologies ever developed was the invention of the wheel over 5,000 years ago.

 

Start your digital transformation today and implement robotic process automation to grow your business and improve profitability.