Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
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1. What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation (or RPA) refers to the use of software "robots" that mimic tasks usually performed by humans. These robots are especially helpful for automating rule-based processes that require interaction with multiple, disparate IT systems. It is widely expected that in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, clerical work will be automated the way industrial robotics automated production in the shop floor.
2. What are the benefits of Robotic Process Automation?
Reduces manpower costs as each software "robot" costs only a fraction of a FTE
Increases speed to market as the software "robots" execute tasks instantaneously
Eliminates the risks of human errors
Ensures regulatory compliance
Improves productivity as the software "robots" operate 24/7 with minimal downtime
Flexibility to scale up and down the robotic operations depending on business requirements
Improves employee engagement by removing mundane, menial tasks from them
Transforms the operating paradigm from labor-intensive to technology-centric
In fact, many organizations tend to overestimate the benefits of RPA in the short term, while underestimating the benefits in the medium to long term.
3. What is the cost of Robotic Process Automation?
The minimum cost is ZERO! Some of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software vendors are already offering free RPA software, notably UiPath with their Community Edition and WorkFusion with their RPA Express. In other words, cost is no longer an excuse for not adopting RPA.
4. What is the difference between Robotic Process Automation and scripting/macros?
Many people often make the mistake of referring Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to a glorified macro. While there are definitely similarities, a RPA software is inherently much more powerful than a simple macro script. For example, the use of RPA provides the unique ability to integrate multiple, disparate IT systems at the User Interface (UI) level. Furthermore, most of the enterprise RPA tools place a lot of emphasis on governance, which is not something you get with macros or scripts.
5. What is the difference between Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software robot that mimics human actions. Artificial Intelligence (AI), on the other hand, is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. In simple terms, RPA is associated with “doing” whereas AI is concerned with “thinking”. Brawn and brains, if you like. Accordingly, RPA tends to be more process-centric while AI is data-driven. Nevertheless, RPA and AI are nothing but different ends of a continuum called Intelligent Automation (IA).
6. How do we get our employees on board with Robotic Process Automation?
The key to successful implementation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is change management. Many business leaders commit the mistake of viewing RPA as just another IT project when in fact, it is all about its people.
Fears by employees about job displacements are understandable, and over-hyped. In the 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research survey, a majority (45%) of respondents think that automation will make their job better. A whopping 72% of respondents are happy to retrain if they are paid the same or more than their current pay.
At the end of day, employees are simply looking for an equitable distribution of the gains from automation. This is what one of our clients (who by the way is extremely successful in introducing automation) has to say -
"We use automation to help our employees increase productivity amid a tight labour market. As long as our employees remain open to retraining, the company will never allow automation to take their jobs away!"
7. What are the three laws of Robotic Process Automation?
The purpose of the RPA software robots is to augment the existing human workforce.
The human managers are responsible for the actions of the RPA software robots.
The learning and development needs of a RPA software robot is no less than that of a human employee.
8. What is the difference between Robotic Desktop Automation and Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are actually related technologies. Both are part of a continuum commonly known as Intelligent Automation (which also includes Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence). The following depicts the key differences between RDA and RPA: