What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is getting a lot of attention these days. What is it? In a nutshell, it’s a way to automate tasks that are mundane or repeatable but potentially error prone (for humans, that is). A good example would be parsing through PDF “spec sheets” that contain details about payments and coverages and need to be transcribed to an Excel spreadsheet.
Have you used website chat recently? Chances are the other end of that chat was a form of RPA and the incoming data is your text. The Robot has been programmed (or “taught”) to take your question, query a knowledge base, and come back with a likely answer.
This saves companies money by providing an automated way to make initial contact with chat users, qualifying the info they’re looking for, and then routing the user to an appropriate human. Better yet, the bot can help chat users realize their request is a common one and can direct users to the company’s website to fill their need.
Although automation has been around awhile, it was always used for a specific purpose (e.g., chatbots). And while chatbots are great at automating conversation, don’t even think about having them automate something like reading a scanned medical claim form. But RPA systems are flexible enough to handle a chat conversation as well as read scanned forms.
That’s the twist on traditional automation that gives RPA its value. In the past, starting an automation project meant starting from ground zero and building things up from scratch. RPA bundles the necessary common technologies in ready-to-implement packages. It’s like the difference between having to order and install five rack servers to start a new project versus going into AWS and hitting “Launch Instance” five times. It’s a world of difference and saves a ton of time.
Ready, Set, Teach!
The availability of RPA systems that take care of the groundwork lets businesses focus on automating the tasks at hand. This involves teaching bots the rules around a specific task, such as words to look for in a scanned form or matching-up phrases in a chat conversation. The bot would take this input and perform the next step, which could be: looking up procedure codes to find a cost or looking up a chat question to find the answer.
It’s this ability to teach bots how to manage automated tasks in a generic way that gives these packages the ability to handle a wide variety of tasks, yet still run with a common set of components. Kind of like Lego blocks. Using the same set of components to build a lot of different things—or using the same package to automate many tasks.
Not all rainbows and unicorns.
Though RPA systems paint a bright and rosy picture, there are pitfalls. Like any flexible and adaptable system, some expertise is needed to make sure the right components are used for the task at hand. Like a high-performance race car, someone with experience and knowledge can do amazing things with that powerful machine. But if someone just settles in and tries to wing it, they’ll end up off the track with costly damage.
RPA solutions’ biggest strength is its ability to automate different problems with the same solution. But this flexibility can be hard to manage if a package is brought in-house without the necessary experience and knowledge. Partnering with a company that has deep RPA experience is the key to success in your first foray with this type of task automation.
The “H” Factor.
Another factor to keep in mind while automating are the humans behind all this. Humans are bringing in and setting up RPA packages and other humans might view this as an attempt to automate them out of a job. This can be a very real concern and shouldn’t be overlooked as it could impact the success of any RPA project.
The goal would be to allow workers who are performing mundane (and possibly boring) tasks to take on more meaningful and satisfying work. This is the kind of win-win situation that makes everyone happy and should play into any RPA project.
Go forth and automate.
RPA has the potential to add value to any organization by automating those tasks that are repetitive, error prone and tedious. Partnering with a company that has the experience and knowledge to navigate the technical and social aspects of RPA helps ensure your projects success. To learn more about all that Anexinet can do to help your next RPA project get off the ground, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us now. We’d love to help you get started.