Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – How to get started

Thursday, November 18, 2021
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What is RPA?

Most businesses have digital processes within their day-to-day operation. Whether extracting data from excel spreadsheets to enter into a financial system or updating a CRM with incoming data, these logical processes operate under a fixed set of rules. They are, therefore, a prime candidate for automation.

 

Robotic Process Automation does precisely what the name implies. It is a software-based “robot” created to complete repetitive processes automatically

 

How to identify areas for automation.

Most businesses will already have an idea of their existing pinch points. The need to dedicate staff resources to copy-and-paste exercises that can eat up half a day, or more, is wasteful. As such, the question becomes, can this task be automated?

 

Involve your staff. They are your on-the-ground experts who understand the job role. Find out what repetitive processes exist, how long they take, and how frequently your employees have to perform those tasks. From there, you can begin to analyse how realistic it might be to create an automation process that can take the bulk of these tasks off the hands of your employees.

 

Can complex tasks be automated?

Essentially, there are two routes to go with RPA. Businesses can look at finding robotic process automations for simple, low-hanging fruit, the kind of tasks that anyone can do but which eat into their time. Think about simple things like chasing down parcel tracking numbers and then forwarding these on to clients.

 

Alternatively, complex tasks can be automated. As long as the process is logical and digitally based, a robot can answer the problem. It is possible to set up robotic automations that work across platforms, allowing emails, CRMs, ordering systems, tracking, and anything else you can think of to be linked together in a logical process and automated.

 

Robots can make pre-defined decisions, so incoming information can dictate how the robot responds. For example, a robot might detect a warm lead via email on a sales channel, create a record on your CRM system, and trigger a call from a colleague to the potential customer. At the same time, uninterested clients can be retargeted or removed from contact lists by the robot.

 

What is the RPA design process?

 

One of the first steps to designing an effective RPA setup is to look at the incoming data. Can this front-end information be digitised, if it is not already? Sometimes this can require a change in the methodology for obtaining this data. A straightforward example would be requiring suppliers to provide invoices in an approved online format that your robot can interpret, saving time and expense with paper-based invoices.

 

Once this is done, a simple proving process can be planned and implemented to introduce the business to the benefits of RPA. If effective, management and staff alike are likely to be keen to see the more mundane and repetitive tasks given over to further automation, freeing up staff to pursue more human-centric activities, such as sweet-talking potential clients.

Posted by:
Steve Tomkinson
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