With the capability to assist and sometimes even replace human involvement, RPA can be effectively implemented across a wide range of industries.
The demands on office employees continue to grow, and now more than two-thirds find themselves trapped in a cycle of repetitive work, feeling as if they are constantly repeating the same tasks over and over again. The 2021 Office Worker Survey revealed some striking statistics, indicating that, on average, respondents waste four and a half hours per week on tasks they believe could be automated.
Moreover, a significant 68% expressed a yearning for more time to explore innovative approaches and incorporate new responsibilities into their daily routines.
In light of these challenges, robotic process automation (RPA) emerges as a game-changing solution.
Businesses can capitalize on RPA by redefining job roles to enhance productivity, cost-efficiency, and employee satisfaction, while also creating space for innovative thinking and the integration of new responsibilities.
Related material: Why Do Companies Choose Robots? A Real Story of RPA Implementation
Explore how RPA reshapes traditional work dynamics through a few notable project examples.
By leveraging RPA tools, enterprises have the capability to configure software, often referred to as “robots,” that can effectively capture and interpret data from various applications. These robots are designed to process transactions, manipulate data, initiate responses, and establish seamless communication with other digital systems.
Read also: Infographic: A Brief Overview of RPA
The spectrum of RPA scenarios encompasses tasks as simple as generating automatic email responses to complex operations involving the deployment of numerous bots, each programmed to automate specific jobs within an ERP system.
In a generalized sense, businesses can use RPA to:
- Automate repetitive data entry and migration tasks.
- Streamline and expedite report generation and distribution processes.
- Enhance customer service and support by automating interactions and responses.
- Optimize finance and accounting operations, such as accounts payable and receivable.
- Streamline HR and employee management tasks, including onboarding and offboarding management.
- Improve supply chain efficiency through automated order processing and inventory management.
- Assist with compliance and regulatory activities, including data collection and reporting.
- Automate IT operations and infrastructure management, such as user account management and system monitoring.
- Automate quality assurance and testing processes for software development.
- Support sales and marketing efforts, including lead generation and CRM management.
Traditional automation allows machines to perform any task throughout the operational process. On the other hand, RPA focuses on the front end of systems, executing tasks without needing to access the back end. RPA bots operate at the user interface level and interact with systems just like humans would. They can work across various application types due to their system-agnostic nature.
RPA is a better choice when you need a personalized and seamless automation experience to tackle complex processes involving multiple applications. Its capabilities shine particularly in scenario-based tasks that demand adaptability and flexibility.
Also, RPA is more scalable and can seamlessly integrate with existing systems, making it quicker in implementation compared to traditional automation. In most cases, RPA is considered a stepping stone toward a full-fledged automation system.
RPA comes with certain risks that organizations should be aware of:
- Process suitability. Not all processes are suitable for automation. Complex processes with a high degree of variability, unstructured data, or frequent changes may pose challenges.
- Data security and privacy. Organizations must implement robust security protocols to protect data and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.
- Lack of governance and control. If proper governance frameworks are not established, it can result in unmonitored or uncontrolled bots, leading to errors, unauthorized access, or non-compliance.
- Dependency on legacy systems. Compatibility issues, system failures, or changes in the underlying technology can impact the stability and effectiveness of RPA.
- Employee resistance and job displacement. Introducing RPA may lead to employee concerns about job security and resistance to change. You need to have proper change management strategies and communication to address these concerns and ensure a smooth transition.
- Cost and return on investment. While RPA can deliver cost savings and efficiency gains, there are costs associated with implementation, licensing, maintenance, and training. Organizations must carefully evaluate the costs and expected return on investment to justify the implementation.
RPA projects can fail due to a combination of factors, including inadequate planning and strategy, limited stakeholder involvement, inaccurate process analysis and documentation, technical challenges and limitations, resistance to change, and unrealistic expectations. Even if you have innovative ideas for RPA, without addressing these critical factors, the success of your project can be put art threat.
These real-world examples showcase RPA impact in improving productivity, accuracy, and overall operational excellence:
One intriguing example is how consulting giant leveraged attended automation to empower its vast workforce during the implementation of CRM and ERP software. With over 260,000 employees needing to adapt to the new software, they encountered challenges with user adoption and constant user support requests.
To tackle this issue, the company deployed attended robots that could guide users through the intricacies of the SAP screen. These robots worked in harmony with human activity, pausing when the user paused and helping as needed.
What made this project unique was the scale and scope of the implementation — no one had attempted attended automation on such a massive scale across various countries and networks. The consulting company successfully deployed 100,000 attended bots and 2,000 unattended bots worldwide, with 1,000,000 interactions completed per year with RPA.
Cash control reconciliation emerged as a significant challenge for a large healthcare institution. Through the implementation of RPA, the institution successfully reduced the monthly manual processing hours from 100 down to a mere 2 hours. This improvement not only saved valuable time but also enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of cash control processes.
Similarly, the institution leveraged automation to reconcile HR position numbers between two human resources systems. This resulted in a substantial reduction in monthly manual processing hours from 25 hours to just 5 hours.
And the last implementation centered around department reconciliation, specifically involving the review and validation of department revenue, payroll, budget, and journal entries. By the end of the project, the institution managed to slash the monthly manual processing hours from 960 hours to 309 hours.
A team comprising construction professionals and software engineers embarked on a mission to eliminate the inefficiencies caused by siloed systems. And so, they set out to create an MVP that could be quickly deployed to the market.
One key area where their RPA solution made a significant impact was in project, action, document, and notification management. Traditionally, these aspects of construction management were riddled with manual processes, scattered documents, and disjointed communication channels. However, with RPA, the team was able to streamline these critical functions.
For project managers, the benefits were remarkable. A survey revealed that 62% of project managers reported saving approximately 4 or more hours of billable time each week. Project managers could also track action items, monitor project milestones, and access critical project documents, all within a centralized platform.
With one particular native integration for an insurance company, automation can be triggered directly from chat requests, creating a seamless and efficient customer experience. This integration enables natural language handling of customer requests, leveraging chat platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and the website chat interface.
By setting up guided conversations, customers are presented with a range of topics to choose from or can enter a free-form query in any of the 30+ supported languages. In the former scenario, customers receive pre-conceived responses tailored to their selected topic, while in the latter, the digital assistant comprehends the intent behind the query and provides a relevant response. To determine eligibility, the chatbot asks a few targeted questions for a personalized and accurate assessment.
In instances where a customer needs to make a claim, the digital assistant orchestrates the process while simultaneously conducting risk and fraud checks.
RPA has found applications in diverse fields, some of which we’ve already gone through. But let’s take a step back for a broader perspective and explore which industries can benefit from the technology:
RPA can help with many areas within the finance and banking industry, including:
- Accounts payable
- Credit card processing
- Mortgage loan approvals
- Fraud detection
- The KYC process
- General ledger updates
- Report automation
- Account closure processes
- Underwriter support
- Cash collection and deposits
- Account origination processes
Moreover, RPA enables integrations between different banking systems, facilitating data exchange and enabling a holistic view of customer information. And it assists in compliance management by ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements and automating audit processes.
RPA for Retail and E-Commerce
Retail and e-commerce enterprises can use RPA for customer service, content creation, product categorization, automated marketing, inventory management, supply chain operations, return processing, sales analytics, and various back-office processes like accounting and human resources.
In the case of, let’s say, a return, the system will send a confirmation message to the customer, update the inventory system, process payment adjustments or refunds, and keep them informed about the refund progress through automated messages.
If your organization operates in the manufacturing sector, you can use the technology for purchase order creation, inventory management, invoice processing, customer service, and bill of materials (BOM) management. For example, the system can provide standard templates for creating new BOMs, identifying and alerting for missing documents, and selecting alternative components from databases.
Here, RPA can streamline various processes, such as predictive maintenance, logistics management, after-sales service, initiating purchase orders, order management, and supply chain diversity. Granted, predictive maintenance is a major step up above the traditional approach. But by integrating with IoT-based sensors and data collection systems, RPA bots can gather real-time data on equipment performance and automate maintenance alerts and work orders.
Related material: What Is Predictive Maintenance?
Other (+ Non-Obvious Industries) RPA Can Benefit
There are tons of other RPA examples in:
- Law firms and legal departments (contract review, document generation, legal research)
- Educational institutions (student enrollment, course registration, grading, data entry)
- Real estate (lease administration, tenant onboarding, rent collection)
- Hospitality (reservations management, guest check-in and check-out processes, feedback analysis)
- Telecom (order provisioning, service activation, network monitoring)
- Non-profit organizations (donor management, fundraising activities, volunteer coordination, grant application processes)
- Government (citizen service inquiries, permit and license processing)
- Agriculture (crop monitoring, yield estimation, irrigation management)
- Energy and utilities (meter reading, billing, outage management, asset maintenance)
- Pharmaceuticals (drug discovery research, regulatory compliance, adverse event reporting)
Featured Case Study: A Fitness Solutions Company Automates Major Processes Using RPA in CRM
Robotic Process Automation use cases are vast and diverse. And looking ahead, RPA continues to evolve, incorporating cognitive abilities and integrating with emerging technologies, including AI, blockchain, and IoT. This opens new possibilities for more complex automation, advanced data analysis, enhanced security, and scalability.
If you’re interested in exploring how RPA can specifically benefit your enterprise, make sure to follow through. You’ll be guided through the entire implementation process, from strategy creation to process discovery, optimal configuration design, testing, and full-scale deployment. By working with the right technology partner and building a software development team for your needs, you’ll maximize the value of RPA. Let’s talk.