RPA has been the breakout trend this past year. But, is it for you?

RPA has been the breakout trend this past year. But, is it for you?

RPA has been the breakout trend this past year. But, is it for you?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is mostly useful in executing routine business processes that are repetitive and require manual effort. RPA augments workers by acting as a catalyst to hasten standard administrative and rules-based operations, without inducing any errors or latency that are typical of human effort. RPA reduces operating costs, and improves throughput and efficiency greatly — RPA bots do not stop, as a human would.

But, is RPA for you?

If you’ve read enough about RPA, you would know that this kind of automation does have its limitations in terms of how much can be achieved. As mentioned already, RPA is most useful when executing repetitive tasks. What does this mean?

“...RPA software is limited by its capacity to process new tasks for which it has no predefined workflow definitions or business logic. This sets a limitation on the number of diverse, repeatable tasks you can automate using RPA. Rules-driven RPA can still be programmed to an extent to drive event-based or incidence-based process implementations, much like programming an if-else workflow logic. Even so, the software is limited by the number of diverse incidents it can respond to within a given process...”

Take the example of accounts payable operations — a routine, monthly chore that needs a whole lot of manual data entry work to process vendor invoices and finalize payments. Robotic Process Automation can be useful in this case if you are processing the same set of invoices, with the same standard templates, from the same set of vendors.

RPA is the Brawn Your Skilled Staffers Need

An RPA bot has in-built logic to identify typical regions or data fields on an invoice like TOTAL, vendor name, etc., which remain at the same position on an invoice. These field placements only change with each new vendor or company, and so if you are dealing with 4 regular vendors sending you invoices, with each having the same standard template, you can configure your RPA software with 4 in-built algorithms or definitions to process invoices from the said 4 vendors.

In the event you change your vendor or receive a new type of invoice from any one of them, there is no chance your RPA bot will be able to execute it as it is not equipped with the required workflow logic to process that invoice. RPA software is limited by its capacity to process new tasks for which it has no predefined workflow definitions or business logic. This sets a limitation on the number of diverse, repeatable tasks you can automate using RPA — dealing with 4 vendors is fine, but if you are to handle hundreds of invoices, typical of growing enterprises, on a daily basis, it is near to impossible, not to mention unreasonable, to build hundreds of predefined workflows and business logic to process all of them.

IPA is the Brain Your Company Needs for Adaptability & Growth

RPA software does not support diversity in business operations. What RPA lacks is human cognition to identify an anomaly in a task and reprogram itself to execute it. In other words, it does not have the human capacity to learn and act. Rules-driven RPA can still be programmed to an extent to drive event-based or incidence-based process implementations, much like programming an if-else workflow logic. Even so, the software is limited by the number of diverse incidents it can respond to within a given process.

“...that does not mean RPA is becoming obsolete. For standard functions that do not change over time, RPA works really well and is an indispensable asset for many companies. Tasks like automated emailing, price comparison, records management, or report generation can be duly accomplished using Robotic Process Automation.”

RPA needs cognition to execute complex, data-driven, decision-based processes. Artificial Intelligence is the answer. AI-enabled RPA, or Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), which combines digital transformation technologies like Machine Learning, Business Process Automation (BPA), Intelligent Data Capture, along with AI and RPA, drives straight-through processing of complex business functions.

If we take the same example of accounts payable operation again, a lack of intelligence-specific logic prevented an RPA bot from executing new invoices. IPA, on the other hand, makes use of Machine Learning to process a new invoice — IPA bots pick up user actions, performed the first time, to enter data from an invoice into the IPA workflows for further processing. This learning is retrieved and applied by the IPA bot when it comes across an invoice with a similar template or format. This way, IPA bots build upon their capture logic and add to their ‘learnings’ database to acquire and process a diverse set of invoices.

Intelligent Process Automation is an extension of Robotic Process Automation, designed to perform complex, data-driven processes. That does not mean RPA is becoming obsolete. For standard functions that do not change over time, RPA works really well and is an indispensable asset for many companies. Tasks like automated email marketing, price comparison, records management, or report generation can be duly accomplished using Robotic Process Automation.

Integrating IPA technology with established RPA platforms can greatly lower the dependence on manpower to get work done. For example, integrating an invoice processing automation software, which is built on an IPA platform, with an RPA platform for disbursing payments can help establish an end-to-end process chain from purchase-to-pay.

How close are you to implementing IPA in your business? Talk to Artsyl to learn what your company can accomplish with IPA technology.

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