Robotic Process Automation Can Drive Business Value and Efficiency
More business leaders are discovering the benefits of robotic process automation, or RPA. This type of software tool takes over repetitive, rules-based tasks that would otherwise be labor-intensive, freeing up employees to focus on higher-value work.
As the costs for technology decline, companies of all sizes are increasingly using it to uncover efficiencies, potentially strengthen margins and allow the business to better deliver on its core value proposition. Understanding the fundamentals of RPA can help you pinpoint ways it can achieve results for your business.
How automation helps businesses
RPA can automate a range of business functions, including:
- Capturing, sorting and manipulating data
- Completing tasks based on data gathered
- Triggering other tasks
- Communicating with other software or people
Any data-dependent, rules-driven digital process may be a great candidate for automation. An RPA bot can recognize digital files and analyze information within them without any human input.
The benefits of robotic process automation can vary with use and across different industries. For example, a craft beer manufacturer may devote more budget to the best chemists, ingredients and salespeople when a chatbot reduces the staff hours needed to respond to low-level email or social media queries. An organic food and health supplements shop might achieve better efficiency margins by using a bot to manage routine inventory and payroll tasks.
The key similarity is that RPA reduces the time and money each company might have otherwise spent on low-value-added activities.
Helping human efforts
RPA's advantages can go beyond merely eliminating the costs for labor dedicated to peripheral, tedious activities. Robots programmed to complete tedious tasks work faster than humans, with less error. That means automation can mitigate threats to efficiency and quality control. Meanwhile, the technology enables your team to shift focus toward work that requires more creativity and nuanced decision-making. This can help put the business on track to innovate and fulfill its core value proposition.
Benefits like these are why robotic process automation is making an impact in operations across major industries like health care, manufacturing, insurance and retail in core functional areas, including:
- Production operations
- Finance and accounting
- Supply chain logistics
- Customer service
- Human resources
Considerations and preparations
Bots and other automation tools can be designed to achieve in seconds what a team of workers may take hours or longer to complete. This capability can attract the attention of CFOs and other top decision-makers in a company. However, since business needs are unique even within a given industry, you may want to weigh several considerations before adopting the technology.
Pinpoint the specific outcomes you hope to achieve, and map out how those results fit into your business strategy. Understand the tradeoffs you may need to make when implementing an RPA platform. For instance, if you're implementing a customer-facing solution that involves automation, can you anticipate and plan for how existing and targeted customers might react to the change?
If possible, start small. Go for quick, area-specific wins rather than immediately jumping into wide-scale company change. You may find the cost-benefit analysis less complex and buy-in across teams and departments easier. If complications arise after deployment, your IT team will likely find it simpler and faster to make tweaks to smaller initiatives.
Devote the necessary time upfront to proper design, planning and governance. This caution is in line with the time-tested adage, "Measure twice, cut once." Find out what infrastructure needs to be in place to support the changes you're planning. For example, if you're working with an outside RPA vendor, will you have sufficient IT support to address any triggered issues, such as cybersecurity and data privacy?
You'll also want to consider the costs of a solution, upfront and downstream. Don't hesitate to chat about the benefits of robotic process automation and the financial implications with your trusted business banker.
Financial insights for your business
This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.