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RPA in a nutshell

So what is RPA? The full term is Robotic Process Automation. Basically, it is just software. What that software does is execute a series of tasks that make up a process – a process that is normally undertaken by a human employee. Think invoicing. Think payroll. Think client account setup. All of those processes have things in common. They involve entering data into a computer application in the same manner each time. Sometimes, the overall process involves more than just entering data into one system. It may also involve making some calculations, opening emails, extracting data from a PDF or some other task. With RPA, instead of a human doing this, there is a piece of software, known as a robot or a bot that tackles the tasks.

RPA bots are capable of mimicking most human-computer interactions so it doesn’t matter what the process is. The process could be a HR process such as onboarding lots of new employee records into a payroll system (after a merger). The process might be insurance-related such as claims processing. Or it could be a legal-sector process such as compliance checking. It doesn’t really matter because RPA is cross functional.

Also, it doesn’t matter which applications are being used as part of the process. You can build a bot to work with pretty much any application. Bots behave just like humans, logging into a GUI and navigating through a process via a series of clicks and data entry. So whether your accounting system is Sage, SAP, Freshbooks or something else, it doesn’t matter; an RPA bot can take on your accounting processes.  That is because RPA is both cross functional and cross application.

Just think of an RPA bot as a co-worker programmed to take on certain transactions. The types of things that it can do are very similar to the types of things that a human can do on a computer. It can read, it can click, type, enter information, bring information from one program or application or website to another.  The difference between the human employee and the bot is that the bot does it better. The bot is faster, more reliable, more consistent, more accurate and can work 24/7. RPA is not about getting rid of human workers, it is about liberating humans from the stuff the bot does better and freeing them up to do far more –  to be more strategic, more agile, more inventive – to work alongside bots towards a wider transformation.

by Eileen O`Mahony, General Manager at WM Promus

16th June 2021

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