Always seeing the term RPA thrown about in conversation and constantly asking yourself “What does RPA stand for?” but too afraid to ask? Seek no further, by the end of this article, you will know enough about RPA to make your systems admin blush. And while it’s useful to know what RPA stands for, you will also have a grasp on what benefits it could bring to your company.
This, of course, is about business process applications which ultimately remove the manual processing of paper documents. So, for a quick disclaimer, when I talk about robots and robotics in this article, I am not talking about the bicentennial man, C-3PO, or Optimus Prime. Instead I am talking about a robotic application replacing human tasks, and I present to you, the ultimate cheat sheet on RPA (for beginners).
So, what does RPA stand for? RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation. This is referring to easily programmed software which can perform inter-applicational tasks much more efficiently than humans. Consider the processing of supplier invoices as an inter-applicational task and you will be envisioning a process where RPA can be brought to bear. Removing the requirement for human intervention in a task which is replicated hundreds (if not more) of times, the extraction of an invoice from its source, copying the data from an e-mail to an ERP etc.
When implemented into a finance function RPA could retrieve an invoice from an email inbox, read the information with ICR (Intelligent Capture Recognition – Go read this blog), and replicate the necessary information into an ERP, such as Oracle, ready for payment on the next run.
Put simply, RPA is the key to reducing errors, time, and cost, in computer based, manual processes.
Should You Stand for RPA?
As they say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, don’t let your IT-Illiterate-afraid-of-change, colleagues push back the growth of your department, or even your company. Too often someone will explore a software solution only to be flattened by the typical response “We’ve been doing it this way for years and it works fine”, quite clearly if you are exploring RPA and attempting to streamline your processes, “it” in fact does not “work fine”.
This is your time to teach your colleagues that computers are our friends, and the reason they have such a bad relationship with theirs is because they are still running the same database software they installed in 1990 which is 10 years out of support. Most of the time, these reluctant colleagues can be tamed with a clear, concise plan, and regular meetings to hear and address concerns.
The most important part about implementing RPA into your business, is to review your processes. Is the process business critical? Could you streamline your process and simplify it to make your life, your suppliers’ life, or your customers life easier? Once you have mapped out your process, then you can begin automation, the benefits of which will far outweigh any negative input from nay-sayers.
Top 3 Benefits of RPA
As I’m sure you’re aware, automating a process is going to be much more time efficient than a manual process, that’s the whole point, right? A robotic application can read and understand a document much faster than a human can.
Pairing previously mentioned ICR with machine learning, an RPA solution could increase your team’s efficiency from 50 documents per person per day to 400.
As well as being faster than a buttered bullet, a robotic application is as accurate as it gets.
Not only can RPA find and copy information from one application to another with amazing accuracy, it can also check in the archives to make sure the same document is not processed twice or flag up errors instantaneously and return to the original user.
The only reason you will get sign off from your board of directors, will be if your project will save the company money. Well, guess what? RPA does just that, and even better, the more documents you pass through your RPA solution the more economical it becomes.
With today’s cloud capabilities, implementation is becoming cheaper, and therefore software is becoming much more accessible.
Overall, an automated solution could save you up to 60% of costs when compared to a manual input.
Hopefully this will be enough to get you excited about RPA, and you will no longer wonder “What does RPA stand for?”, instead you will be fully equipped to answer that question when asked by colleagues!
For an in depth use case for utilising RPA and AI in Accounts Payable, go check out our webinar replay here.