Frequently Asked Questions.

What is RPA (Robotic Process Automation)? Why is it used?

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation.

  • It is a technology that uses software robots (bots).
  • Imitates the steps that a human worker would take to complete a business task or process.
  • Completes the task without any intervention.
How do you implement it?
  • It can be implemented by either downloading the software or using it via a web-based URL, making it extremely low barrier to entry and accessible for all businesses.
  • RPA can be used on any rules-based, repetitive processes that do not require any human intervention in order to perform the task.
  • RPA can perform processes 24/7 so high-volume, low-complex tasks can be undertaken by bots without tiring or making mistakes.
Why use RPA? RPA is used as a digital transformation tool to:
  • Increase efficiency and productivity
  • Decrease errors
  • Improve compliance
  • Allow for scalability
  • Realise potential
  • See tangible increases in ROI in a short space of time
  • Easily measure business growth with analytics
  • Increase employee morale
  • Allow for value creation and improve stakeholder relationships!

What are the advantages of RPA?

There are many advantages to implementing RPA, however, below is a list of some of the most common benefits: Increased efficiency and productivity

  • RPA can run tasks and processes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Decreased errors
  • If humans are doing repetitive, mundane tasks then they can often make mistakes.
  • When RPA is programmed correctly, it will never make a mistake.
More accurate results
  • RPA can be programmed to perform complex calculations in milliseconds and if implemented correctly, will not make mistakes that a human worker may make.
Increase in employee morale
  • If your staff are no longer having to undertake mundane, repetitive tasks, then it will allow the time and opportunity to work on more interesting or meaningful tasks.
  • This will allow for them to add value to the company.
Improved compliance
  • With a reduction of errors, compliance will improve, which can also reduce the cost of audits.
  • RPA allows for complex reporting and a digital audit trail that can be extracted in any format and updated every time the task is run - with the results being sent to the required stakeholders.
Easier scalability & growth
  • Once an RPA solution is in place, the premise of it can be a pplied to any other suitable process in the company.
  • It will allow you to integrate your processes and adapt to changing business environments.
  • Once you have the software in place, new bots can be easily built and implemented, allowing for the important growth of your business.
Improve stakeholder relationships
  • If your process is improving productivity within the business, then it may be increasing the time in which you pay your invoices, or the time in which you respond to customers for example.
  • Either way, your internal and external stakeholders will benefit from it, which will improve your relationship with them.
Faster cost realisation / ROI With an increase in productivity, ROI can be realised faster with results being delivered faster.

Is RPA accessible for smaller businesses / SMEs?

RPA has never been more accessible for SMEs! There is a misconception that RPA is not accessible for smaller businesses or SMEs. This may be due to a lack of knowledge or understanding of RPA, but there is also a belief that the barriers to entry are too high, however with the development of Automation Anywhere Enterprise A2019, it has never been more accessible for smaller businesses! Why is this?

  • Enterprise A2019 is entirely web and cloud-based, which means that there is no need for any expensive re-architecture of systems or a costly implementation of RPA software.
  • Current business applications do not need to be updated, because RPA essentially mimics the work of a human on your current applications but in a much faster time and with no errors, which can reduce your operating costs.
  • RPA can be undertaken in most industries if the process is repetitive, rules-based and digital. Most industries have back-office functions that are well suited to RPA, such as HR, IT, Marketing, Finance and Accounting etc.
RPA is not only possible for SMEs but essential in gaining a competitive advantage. If staff are now free to focus on growing the business and improving customer service, then early adoption of RPA will enable the growth of the business. Some of the key benefits you can witness from implementing RPA:
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Decreased errors
  • Increased employee morale
  • More opportunities for value creation
  • Improved compliance
  • Scalability
  • Business growth
Realise potential See tangible increases in ROI in a short space of time and improved stakeholder relationships!

Can you explain RPA in easy steps?

RPA performs the work of a human undertaking tasks on a computer. It can:

  • Log into any application using usernames and passwords that have been securely stored
  • Perform keyboard or mouse functions such as:

  • Clicking on the screen
  • Typing
  • Copying and pasting data
  • Updating or moving files and folders
  • Extract data from web browsers, excel files, pdf documents, which can be used to update reports or databases or input data into forms
  • Read and send emails and open or download attachments
  • Produce reports or make calculations
RPA can be used to perform all the above steps without any human intervention if the process is rules-based, digital and works best on highly repetitive tasks.

How can RPA be used / what processes are most commonly automated using RPA?

Some of the most common examples of how RPA can be used are: Finance:

  • Management / month-end reporting
  • Tax calculations
  • Purchase Order processing
  • Invoice processing, including extracting data from invoices and uploading the information into an ERP, such as SAP
  • Reconciliations
Human Resources:
  • Recruitment, for example scanning CVs, contacting candidates, verifying visas or DBS checks
  • Employee on-boarding, for example sending out new starter packs or information, entering new employee information into HRIS database
  • Calculating compensation and benefits
  • Performing payroll duties and calculations in the HRIS
  • Annual leave / sick / parental leave management, including updating databases and sending letters via email
Information Technology:
  • Automating Service Desk communication and desktop support
  • Maintenance of database administration
  • Data migration and entry
  • Legacy system integrations
Please click here for an example of more use cases.

What industries are most suited to the use of RPA?

All industries! There is a misconception that RPA is only well suited to Banking & Finance industries, however RPA can be used in any industry that has back-office functions that require repetitive, rules-based tasks. This can include any industry such as: Marketing Supply Chain Media & Communications Transport Travel Healthcare Manufacturing Utilities or Oil & Gas to name a few. The list is endless! If the process is undertaken on a computer, following the same steps every time and is repeated at a high volume, then it meets the requirements for RPA and can be automated.

How can I know if my process can be automated using RPA?

Is the process:

  • Rules-based
  • Digital
  • Repeated on a regular basis
  • High volume
The above bullet points can start as a good basis for establishing whether a process can be automated. There are many other factors involved in determining the likely success of the project that spans past the process itself including:
  • Stability and maturity of the process
  • Management buy-in
  • Process ownership
There are a number of other factors, but if you would like more information please don't hesitate to get in touch.

How many processes can be automated with RPA?

The limit does not exist! If the process follows the guidelines of being rules-based, digital, repeated on a regular basis and is high-volume, then in theory, it can be automated. However, there are many factors involved in determining whether it is a good use-case, for example:

  • How stable/robust is the process?
  • How mature is the process in its lifecycle?
  • Is there management buy-in?
  • Is there somebody that can take ownership of the process and RPA solution to see it through to fruition and then manage/update the process once it is in place?
  • Is there a clear vision for what the benefits will be for automating this process? For example, increasing ROI, decreasing errors or increasing employee morale?
Every business project requires managing risks and benefits and RPA is no different. When implemented correctly and for the right reasons, RPA can be an extremely powerful solution for your business.

What does an RPA roadmap look like?

1) Identify a process that you want to automate by determining:

  • The most suitable process that can be automated using RPA (rules-based, repetitive, digital etc.)
  • The greatest impact it will have on the business unit or organisation (yielding the greatest benefits)
2) Obtain management buy-in to ensure that the process has a robust team investing in the success of the project. 3) Try to establish step-by-step (down to click level) of what is involved in undertaking the process.
  • This is to ensure exceptions are handled
  • The more detail, the better as every possible scenario will need to be accounted for if you want to avoid errors
4) Design the RPA solution. 5) Test the RPA solution rigorously. 6) Once the RPA solution has passed testing, it can be implemented in the production environment. 7) The RPA solution can then be maintained and updated if necessary, with any changing business process or environment

Will RPA replace jobs in the near future?

RPA will create jobs in the future! The aim of RPA is to enhance people's roles by taking away the mundane, repetitive tasks. This would essentially allow staff to focus their time on more interesting or meaningful tasks, which couldn't be undertaken by RPA. RPA is rules-based, therefore all tasks requiring:

  • value-adding
  • decision-making
  • ingenuity
  • innovation
  • genuine human contact like building relationships
...would not be replaced by RPA! Staff can look at RPA as a way of allowing them the opportunity to work on their own professional development within the business and potentially progressing to a more senior position, which is something they may not have been able to do if their task was focused on mundane, repetitive tasks. Increasing productivity will allow staff to focus time on improving customer service and growing the business, which would essentially create more jobs in the company in the future! RPA can be viewed as a business growth strategy without the need to reduce headcount.

Robotics in Human Resources - RPA Use Cases in HR

HR is a great use case for RPA because there are several r epetitive, digital, rules-based processes and tasks within this business unit. Here is a list of some of the most common use cases (however, the possibilities extend much further beyond this list!): Recruitment

  • Scanning CVs
  • Contacting candidates to arrange for interviews by sending template emails
  • Verifying visas or DBS checks using online verifying services
  • Organising calendar invites for interviews by checking interviewer availability and then sending invites via email
Employee on-boarding
  • Sending out new digital starter packs or information
  • Data entry for new employee information into HRIS database
  • Calculating compensation and benefits
  • Using excel or HRIS applications to calculate annual increases
  • Calculate role ranges for compensation reviews
  • Data entry into the payroll system
  • Reconciliation calculations
Leave management
  • Annual leave calculations and data entry
  • Sick leave calculations
  • Parental leave management, with digital letters being sent out and data entry into the system
Training & Development
  • Sending out training videos
  • Updating training management systems

What does RPA stand for?

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation. It uses digital software robots (bots) to perform repetitive, rules-based, digital tasks without human intervention and can be ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - never tiring or making mistakes. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Reduced errors
  • Tangible results in ROI
  • Increase in staff morale
  • Business growth driver with easy reporting measures
  • Decreased costs
These benefits can be realised in a much shorter space of time than if human workers were continuing to undertake the process or task!

Is RPA expensive?

Not anymore! RPA can now be implemented using a cloud and web-based automation solution, so there is no need to spend money on expensive implementation costs. RPA mimics the work of a human worker that is already undertaking the task in your business, therefore there is no need for re-architecture or updates of new systems or applications. An RPA solution will allow you to:

  • Increase productivity and efficiency
  • Increase in staff morale
  • Decrease errors
  • Reduce costs
  • Allow for tangible, fast results in ROI
  • Easily measure your business growth
Once you have purchased an RPA license, you can utilize that by running as many bots as possible on the bot-runner. RPA is now more accessible than ever for SMEs who do not have unlimited funds to spend on expensive digital transformation projects - see the results and gain a competitive advantage without rinsing your resources!

How long does it take to implement an RPA solution?

This question entirely depends on the process and can take anyway from a few days up to a few months if the process is more complicated. A Proof of Concept (POC) is an effective way of establishing alignment between what is theoretically possible and what is practically feasible. It can be done in a few days to showcase a 'snippet' of automation and allow businesses to see the potential within their own organisational structure and environment. Once the RPA project has been enlisted and undertaken it can be completed in a matter of days or weeks if the process is small, but larger and more complex processes could take months to automate. Once the first RPA solution is in place, it is quicker and easier to build on from this and scale up.

Is RPA a growing industry?

Yes! But what’s fueling the growth? Digitization

  • The growth of RPA has been driven by the demand to digitize business processes and the need for straight-through processing (STP).
  • RPA is now accessible for all businesses, including SMEs and across multiple industries.
  • This is because it has become more affordable.
  • Companies can now gain a competitive advantage by integrating legacy systems without the need to invest in new systems or re-architecture.
  • By adopting the use of RPA as a digital transformation project, companies can reap benefits such as:

  • Tangible results in ROI
  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased costs and errors
  • All without the cost of previous technology solutions.
Corporate Growth
  • According to a PwC study, "69% of CEOs are planning to drive corporate growth and profitability through cost reduction and 62% expect technology to completely disrupt their business within five years".
  • RPA is at the forefront of digital technology transformation projects that companies are investing in.
A Gartner study found that RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market and a Fortune Business Insights report found that the RPA industry is forecasted to exhibit a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.3% by 2026. If you don’t want your company to fall behind then please get in touch!

Is it worth learning RPA?

Yes! Having an understanding of RPA ensures that once Propel Consult has created and implemented the solution for your business, you will have somebody with the knowledge to take ownership of it and update it as and when it is necessary. For example:

  • An update in the process
  • Adapting to changing business environments
A Centre of Excellence (CoE) can be created by companies as a central group of individuals who have undertaken some of the learning required to build and maintain bots to then:
  • Work closely with business process owners
  • Confidently build on the foundations that have been implemented

What is the difference between AI and RPA?

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) uses rules to automate structured data and cannot make decisions if it hasn’t been previously programmed or instructed to do so. AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be used in conjunction with Machine Learning (ML) to automate semi and un-structured data to extract, classify and validate information on complex business documents

  • An example is Automation Anywhere's IQ Bot solution
This solution can be trained to interpret documents and make decisions on the data that should be extracted based on rules that it is previously been learnt on a small scale and apply it to a large scale.

How is AI (Artificial Intelligence) used in RPA (Robotic Process Automation)?

Automation Anywhere has an AI solution called IQ Bot, combining RPA with A rtificial Intelligence technologies such as Computer Vision, NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning).

  • IQ Bot can take un-structured data and extract, classify and validate information from complex business documents, such as invoices, purchase orders or emails.
  • This AI solution is partnered with RPA to allow for a seamless end-to-end automation.
It is estimated that 80% of business processes rely heavily on people organising unstructured data before the process can begin, so IQ Bot can gain back hours of wasted time. The use of IQ Bot can accelerate the deployment of the task by up to 10 times faster, maximizing results.

How is RPA different from automation?

RPA allows for end-to-end automation across multiple systems and applications because it automates the task or process that a human would perform by mimicking their actions following a rules-based approach. This enables the process to be completed without human intervention and straight-through. In previous automation solutions, if there was multiple applications or systems involved in completing a task then a human would need to eventually intervene. RPA allows for fully automated integration across applications, even on legacy systems.