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Create More Hours in a Day with Robotic Process Automation

Create More Hours in a Day with Robotic Process Automation

Robotics is a new wave in process automation. Robots have moved from the back office to the front office to automate almost anything in an organization.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software technology that enables robots to pull data from various sources and follow defined steps to complete tasks. The ultimate goal is to streamline repetitive processes.

"It's like a time machine that replaces tedious work to make more time for productive tasks," said Jim Maholic, technology writer and IT strategist at the recent CIO of Canada Virtual Roundtable. "Automation improves the experience for both employees and customers."

At first, the technology was mostly used to automate financial processes, said Tom Torlon, global vice president of business services with UiPath. “Then, it expanded into IT, HR and manufacturing. Now, it is being used in call centers and health care,” he said.

“As long as it is applied to repeatable processes, there is no limit to what it can do,” said a roundtable attendee who recently applied RPA to a use case.

Five reasons to implement robotic process automation

Maholik said there are five value drivers for implementing RPA:

Increase efficiency by reducing tedious work for employees.
Favorable financial impact. Companies report significant improvements in their business metrics after implementing RPA.
Risk mitigation and risk aversion. For example, financial institutions use it in their processes to detect fraud.
Strengthening audit capability and regulatory compliance
Repeatable, reliable error free accuracy. "Robots never run out of time," Maholic said.
An IT leader explained how RPA was deployed in his organization to convert and download video files, which had grown significantly since the pandemic began. The organization's employees were working overtime to keep up with the volume. Now, robots complete the task in less than half the time and the implementation has already paid for itself, he said.

Start with the Automation Operating Model

A common starting point for many organizations is to implement automation to replicate existing processes, Maholic said. "During the journey, companies begin to see benefits and process changes or changes down the road."

In addition, organizations can start before they fully standardize their processes, Torlon said. "Companies can automate variations in their processes and it is still valuable if it replaces human time," he said.

Torlon said that as deployments begin, it's important to have robust governance processes in place. These should include standard criteria to evaluate which processes to automate. If the organization decides to proceed, there should also be defined processes on how to build it and put it into production. The companies defining the model have more throughput as all the questions have already been answered,” he said. As automation increases, it is also important to ensure that the control points are secure.

Depending on the model, a deployment can be completed in a simple matter of two to three days, while a large deployment can take six to eight weeks, Torlon said.

"We advocate the crawl, walk, run approach," said Torlon. "Organizations with automation operating models can become very efficient."

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