What is robotic process automation?
How software bots automate work to drive productivity and efficiency gains
What is robotic process automation?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software-based approach that uses bots to automate tedious, repetitive tasks. This eliminates the need for human intervention, optimizing processes while enabling employees to focus on more important tasks and initiatives.
As a noninvasive technology, RPA equips organizations to:
- Bridge legacy systems
- Easily close integration gaps
- Wrap legacy system integrations without making changes to underlying technology investments
Why use RPA?
As part of a workflow automation strategy, RPA removes the need for employees to perform repetitive work, enabling work to be processed digitally with greater speed and accuracy.
To do so, RPA automates business processes to accelerate work outcomes, removes opportunities for errors, and enables organizations to scale quickly for spikes in volume without additional resources.
With 24/7 transaction processing capabilities, RPA can also increase productivity and eliminate processing backlogs, reducing costs associated with rework.
How does RPA work?
RPA provides tools you can use to automate repetitive work so your employees can focus on customers, while bots do the repetitive, rote work. For example, automations you create can bridge gaps between various software applications employees use, eliminating the time spent starting and navigating through those applications. This allows you to integrate legacy systems and avoid silos.
What’s the difference between attended and unattended RPA?
With attended RPA, users interact with the automation on their desktop. For example, in a customer service scenario, a typical automation would consist of the following steps:
- The bot runs an automation to retrieve customer information from various applications.
- The bot then presents the information to the service representative.
- The representative can change the customer information as needed.
- The bot runs an automation to update the original application with those changes.
With unattended RPA, the work is performed automatically without human intervention. Typical use cases involve automating repetitive back-office tasks, such as when employees submit work to a queue and robots automate the work in batches.
What’s included in RPA?
Users interact with bots on their desktop, increasing productivity and efficiency
Bots perform work automatically without human intervention
AI is used to intelligently optimize the capacity and efficiency of unattended bot resources
Pega’s patented RPA technology enables faster and more accurate automation building
Frequently Asked Questions about robotic process automation
Coding is typically required to some extent in RPA, but the level of coding required can vary based on the RPA platform being used and the complexity of the tasks you want to automate.
RPA involves using software bots to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks that were previously performed by humans. These tasks can include data entry, form filling, data extraction, and more. RPA platforms provide graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that allow users to design automation workflows using drag-and-drop tools, making it possible to create simple automation processes without much coding knowledge.
However, as the tasks become more complex or require integration with other systems and applications, some level of coding expertise might be necessary. This can include: scripting, API integration, data manipulation, exception handling, customer activities, or advanced automation.
To identify RPA opportunities, companies should follow the following steps:
- Generate a heat map of business processes to chart which ones are repetitive and labor-intensive.
- Select one or two use cases where you know that you're going to get the best reduction of repetition along with the best buy-in internally.
- Establish a concept of excellence around measurable outcomes that reflect value internally as well as externally for customers.
Some examples of RPA include automating tasks such as data entry, data extraction, report generation, and customer onboarding. RPA can also be used for automating back-office processes, such as claims processing, invoice processing, and HR tasks like employee onboarding and offboarding. RPA can also help organizations to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and free up employees to focus on more strategic tasks.
RPA is utilized across various industries to streamline and automate repetitive and rule-based tasks. Some of the industries that extensively use RPA include:
- Finance and Banking: RPA is used for tasks like data entry, invoice processing, account reconciliation, and compliance reporting.
- Insurance: RPA helps automate claims processing, policy issuance, underwriting, and premium calculations.
- Healthcare: RPA is used for appointment scheduling, patient data management, billing, and claims processing.
- Retail and E-commerce: RPA is employed for order processing, inventory management, customer service, and data extraction from websites.
- Manufacturing: RPA assists in managing supply chain processes, inventory tracking, order processing, and quality control.
These are just a few examples, and RPA's application is not limited to these industries alone. Any industry that has repetitive and rule-based tasks can benefit from implementing RPA to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and free up human resources for more strategic and creative work.
The main difference between RPA and artificial intelligence (AI) lies in their capabilities and focus. RPA is best suited for automating repetitive, rule-based tasks that involve interacting with software applications, while AI is more versatile, capable of learning from data, making decisions, and handling unstructured information.
The use of RPA has expanded across industries because it delivers value by automating manual workflows, eliminating repetitive tasks, freeing up talent to focus on more high-value work, reducing costs, and improving quality. Additionally, RPA is noninvasive and lightning fast, making it easy to see value and make an immediate impact. Low-code development has also put RPA within the grasp of people who are not necessarily developers (AKA citizen developers), enhancing companies' ability to leverage RPA.