RPA – Robotic Process Automation

The use of RPA is a critical aspect that all companies immersed in a digital transformation process should consider.

In today’s global market, characterised by growing innovation and changes in the customer’s needs and demands, in addition to the increase of data value, companies should be open to constant changes and their capability for adaptation plays an essential role in their long-term competitiveness and stability. A crucial part of this evolution is what we call “Digital Transformation,” which includes technology in each process of the organisation and allows to make changes not only in said processes but in the company’s operations and culture. One of the pillars of digital transformation is robotic process automation. 

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation, RPA, is a series of software tools which act on the systems’ interfaces in the same way as a human would.

In this sense, RPA refers to the use of said software to automate IT processes which are repetitive execution tasks with little variation in each execution. This repetition and lack of variation makes them “easy” to automate using the previously mentioned software and relatively simple business rules.

Which are its advantages?

RPA’s final goal is always to improve organisations’ efficiency ratio through automation, which achieves, among others:

  • Less human intervention in the use of IT applications without making big changes in infrastructure and software.
  • The optimisation of quality levels thanks to a greater accuracy and reduction of errors.
  • Reduction in operational costs and processing time.
  • Higher productivity and efficiency within companies.

Thus, the inclusion of RPA in a company increases the quality and efficiency of processes, facilitating their control and auditing, similar to artifical intelligence. Moreover, since human intervention decreases, not only are errors reduced but users have more time to develop and optimise other functions which are difficult to automate. All this make RPA projects generally show a quick return of investment.    

What challenges do we face?

Despite all these advantages and the fact that an appropriately designed RPA project obtains a high return of investment, we have to take into account the different challenges these initiatives pose. These challenges are numerous and of different kinds, but, in general, they stem from the change the RPA project means for the user or from the exact definition of the process to automate.

  • It needs all parts affected by the transformation to get involved.
  • It needs new roles to be defined and therefore, new working skills.
  • Training users and managing change is critical to ensure the new dynamics is accepted.
  • The appropriate tasks or processes have to be selected, avoiding the choice of incomplete processes.
  • A comprehensive analysis of the processes and business rules affected by the project is needed.
  • There must be a robust and complete test phase.

In conclusion, the use of RPA is effective in the automation of repetitive processes, but employees must continue being the masterminds. In the near future, there will be a possibility of combining process automation with technology simulating human capabilities such as artificial intelligence: all this will increase the possibilities of automation and the profit linked to it.