By Rajashekar Reddy Ramasahayam, Ekin Solutions
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, everyone was using mainframe systems; nothing was automated, and all work had to be performed manually. Forty years later, that has all changed. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is state-of-the-art software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that automate routine and rules-based tasks, by mimicking user interactions.
According to a Deloitte 2020 survey, RPA is now the most popular automation technology, with many organizations already implementing or planning to implement RPA.
One factor that contributed to the growth of RPA was the Coronavirus pandemic. As the Deloitte survey noted, “The pandemic has created unique circumstances, with organizations needing automation solutions that offer scalability and rapid deployment. For some, their pandemic response allowed them to reimagine work. For others, automation enabled them to maintain core services during workforce disruption.”
RPA is an attractive tool for many businesses, no matter the size because even small-scale companies have a desire to automate. By utilizing RPA tools, in any industry where repetitive tasks are the norm—everything from building a website to coding a payment system—companies can maximize employee productivity. That means saving time and money, improving accuracy, and ensuring standardization and consistency of service.
In today’s digital world, where nearly every company has a website, this is just one area where RPA can shine. Building a new website requires a multitude of buttons, login screens, and more. The developer must manually code everything and download the logic for the system. These are repetitive tasks. By utilizing RPA, however, the codes can be downloaded automatically, with everything pre-built.
Other places where RPA can be utilized include accounting and finance firms where invoice processing is time-consuming; in human resource departments when it comes to hiring, by screening resumes; managing inventory at retail stores; and automating employee data from payroll records to attendance management and beyond.
Before companies get carried away and make the switch to RPA, it’s important to know, understand and execute specific best practices to generate the results and ROI businesses expect.
- Recognize the RPA application falls under the database criteria. The tasks in question must be repetitive and there should be no new processes that need to be built. If a company has a vast application, it’s important to figure out the smaller components and build them one at a time by separating front-end, back-end, and middle-layer applications and automating them independently. By deploying each component separately, companies will then be able to scale effectively.
- Make sure RPA tools have been programmed effectively. Robots cannot analyze data or make recommendations on how to improve a process. It’s far easier to correct an employee’s behavior than to recalibrate an entire RPA process if the parameters and the rules have not been established correctly from the outset.
- Ensure increased workflow readability before making the switch to automation. Business leaders need to have an excellent grasp of how their process flow works and behaves. Without this crucial understanding, it will be difficult to effectively automate. It’s not enough for the developer to understand organizational processes, department heads throughout the company should have this knowledge too. This becomes even more important when having to deal with troubleshooting issues.
- Choose a high-level framework. An effective high-level framework allows all the common features of the framework and the basic front-end application to be created with little to no coding. Without this crucial architecture, companies will experience production delays and lost revenue.
- Think long-term. RPA should be used to bolster human staff, not merely replace them; allowing the RPA tools to optimize processes implemented by human workers. By taking the time, energy, money, and effort to invest in developing new tools alongside their human counterparts, RPA will help companies invest in their long-term automated futures.
Make The Investment
While RPA continues to develop rapidly and everyone is keen to automate, some companies are reluctant to invest time, money, and personnel to achieve the desired goal. Yet, the investment is necessary to remain competitive in the marketplace. The question becomes: should companies invest in internal resources or work through external technology partners. The former provides the best option. Here’s why.
As the end user of its own products, only the company knows how its processes work and what to invest in. That should not be handed off to outsiders, who don’t understand how the company operates. When switching to RPA (and other forms of automation), there are still decisions that will need to be made by humans. The individuals best equipped to make those decisions are the people who have detailed, specific knowledge of the company’s goals and who have been involved in the initial decision-making process about what projects or tools to automate.
Accordingly, funds should be invested in talented developers who are proficient in statistics and statistics modeling. They will have the best insights into the work being done. When companies use internal technology specialists, they ensure that RPA tools are operating on existing information systems, eliminating the need for outside agencies to invest time and resources in redesigning systems.
Keeping the development in-house results in lower implementation costs and reduced risks. At the same time, system performance is likely to increase and result in greater scalability. These are powerful incentives for any company that wants to maximize its valuable resources.
About The Author
Rajashekar Reddy Ramasahayam is a full stack RPA developer and application modernization expert at Ekin Solutions in Herndon, VA. He has a Bachelor’s in electronics and communication engineering and a Master’s in computer science engineering. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.