Which processes are best suited for RPA (Robotic Process Automation)?
If you want a successful automation programme with a high ROI, half the battle is knowing what Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is best for automating. Which processes work best with RPA?
RPA refers to the use of software "robots" that mimic tasks usually performed by humans. They make decisions based on predefined rules and can perform repeated actions without errors while working at superhuman speed. These features make them especially helpful for automating rule-based processes that require interaction with multiple, disparate IT systems.
Even though more and more cognitive processes can be automated with Intelligent Automation— RPA enhanced with AI—you’ll have the most success starting with processes where being robot-like characteristics are advantageous. Read on to discover the types of processes best suited for RPA.
6 Types of Processes Suitable for RPA
The following infographic shows you at a glance the types of processes for which RPA is best for. Scroll down to read in more detail.
At the end of the article, we also provide links to our free resources to help you get more automation ideas, as well as to select and evaluate these ideas for RPA feasibility.
#1 High Volume Transactions
Look out for tasks that are repeated again and again at high volume. One main advantage of RPA bots is their ability to replicate the same actions repeatedly, error-free.
In general, the larger the time savings, the better the Return on Investment (ROI). There is, after all, a fixed cost to developing an RPA solution. If you or your team are not spending much time on a particular task you are considering to automate, it may not be worth it. Instead, look at other tasks that are of higher volume and taking up more time—those may be more suitable tasks for RPA.
#2 Rule-based Processes
Can the process be described using a flowchart? More specifically, are there any human judgement and discretion required when performing this task? Even though more and more of AI is being incorporated with RPA to automate more cognitive tasks, rule-based processes are the easiest to succeed with.
Tasks that require too much human intervention may not be suitable for RPA, because they may end up with too many exceptions that then need to be handled by humans. This would defeat the purpose of implementing RPA in the first place.
#3 Manual Handling
Computer tasks that require a lot of manual actions by humans—provided they are stable and rule-based—are prime candidates for automation with RPA.
Here are some examples: searching for certain information in a database or spreadsheet, copying and pasting information, creating records in the ERP system, and formatting reports.
Automating such tasks frees up a lot of your employees' time. You can then channel these employees to perform higher-value tasks that deliver even more to the business: strategic planning, relationship building, and other creative work.
This way, RPA not only delivers time and cost savings but possibly also new sources of revenue and growth.
#4 Structured Data
Is the input and output data in a fixed, digital format? Are these data readily available for training and testing purposes? Having these structured data available will make it easier and more accurate to implement RPA.
#5 Disparate Systems
One of the key features of RPA is its ability to manipulate user interfaces just like us humans. One important advantage of that is that RPA can easily bridge disparate systems that otherwise don’t talk to each other. For example, your team may need to constantly and regularly check your CRM system to manually transfer customer data from the CRM to the ERP system. That’s an example of a suitable process for RPA.
#6 Stable Processes
When looking for processes suitable for RPA, look for stable ones. This is because bots follow rules defined at the time they are developed and are dependent on the user interfaces of your systems. Unstable processes with frequent changes along the way will cause these bots to stop functioning as they should. Updating the bots because of such changes will incur additional costs.
Is there an up-to-date Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)? Are there any significant changes in SOP within the past one year or expected in the next year? Are there any planned system enhancements, upgrades or replacements for the applications required for the process within the next year?
If you expect changes within a short time frame, the process you are considering may not be suitable for RPA implementation until it stabilises.
Find RPA-suitable processes in your organisation
Now that you are well aware of the kind of processes RPA works well with, what you need to do is to discover, specifically within your organisation, what RPA is best for. Automating which processes will bring you the best ROI?
Your next step depends on where you are in your ideation journey: