What is RPA? A Guide to Robotic Process Automation

Ian BarkinBlog

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a critical component of the ‘Future of Work’ toolkit. If you’re new to the concept of Robotic Process Automation you may be wondering what the term actually means. We’ve created this blog post to help you understand RPA and learn about the many ways it can add value in your enterprise. By the end of this article, we hope to have given you concrete information about what RPA is, and answers about the ways RPA can be used.

A Definition of RPA

Symphony defines RPA as any capability (software and services) that allows you to transact in any IT application or website, typically in the same way a human would, to automate complex, rule-based work. In other words, RPA software allows developers to tailor complex automations to a company’s processes. When an RPA robot is at work, it performs tasks just like a human would: logging in, operating applications, entering data, performing complex calculations and logging out.

What Can RPA Do?

Because RPA is software-based, it can be used to perform various tasks. These include maintenance of records, queries, calculations, and transactions. Additionally, any application commonly used by your company can be operated by RPA. For example, Citrix, .NET, HTML, and Java are all technologies commonly supported by RPA. Compatible systems include Mainframe Terminals, SAP, Oracle, Blackline, and many more. Programmable automation means that RPA can be configured to perform almost any rule-based task.

Benefits of RPA

RPA can help digitally transform your business not only by unlocking shareholder value but also through employee and customer benefits. Succinctly, here are the main benefits we have come across:

  • Higher Quality Services: Fewer mistakes and errors mean better customer service.
  • Greater Compliance: Business processes can be set to operate in accordance with existing regulations and standards.
  • Increased Speed: Processes can be completed at unprecedented speeds and services delivered faster, due to the reduction in handling time of robots.
  • Increased Agility: Reduced overhead and the ability to accommodate new or changing process rules.
  • Comprehensive Insights: Improved efficiency by digitizing and auditing process data.
  • Reduced Costs: Manual or repetitive tasks are carried out by RPA software at a fraction of the cost
  • Employee Experience: More interesting and less mundane, manual work means increased staff productivity and reduced attrition.

All these factors can set your company apart from competitors and are highly valuable in terms of shaping your business’s digital operations strategy.

RPA for Your Company

RPA can be applied to all sorts of rules-based process in a wide range of sectors, including process automation of office tasks, IT support, and assisted automation in customer service. With such a variety of areas that RPA is known to be successful in, it’s no wonder that so many companies are taking advantage of the technology.

If you’re worried about RPA being able to suit your company’s needs, don’t be. Symphony has worked with clients across a wide range of industries including banking, healthcare, logistics, government, insurance, consumer products, food & beverage, entertainment and more; and on as wide a scope of processes as HR, Finance and Accounting, Supply Chain, Procurement and beyond.  So we can assure you that RPA easily translates to many different industries and functions. Contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss how RPA might apply to your particular industry or business function.

Where Should You Start?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but Symphony does suggest a few important steps.  First, get educated.  This often begins with online research (like you’ve done to find this blog).  Then, speak to experts who’ve gained experience through doing.  There are a lot of RPA tools out there (seemingly more every day).  Get objective and experienced advice.  Finally, have a change management plan.  Successful RPA deployments require a broad set of stakeholders involved.  Of most importance, and we can’t stress this enough, plan to engage IT sooner than later – they are your ally and partner on this journey.  Plan to identify areas of highest impact and benefit.  And plan to have budgets and resources necessary to make substantive progress in the next business period.

How Can You Learn More?

Want more information on the details of RPA? We’ve got it. Check out our blog for insights from our experts. We have a blog series on preparing your business for digital transformation. We also have a technical blog series on RPA to teach you about the most important features to look out for when selecting an RPA tool. We hope this article, as well as our other posts, help you to get a better understanding of Robotic Process Automation and how it can be an important component of your digital transformation toolkit.

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