Companies that want to increase operational efficiency to scale operations depend on automation. The good news for mid-market companies is that automating document- and data-burdened back office processes is easier and more cost effective than ever. The good news doesn’t end there, because the range of processes that can be automated cost effectively has grown, thanks in part to machine learning technology that can be combined with intelligent data capture tackle more complicated process challenges while relying less on IT and developers and more on the expertise of your process owners.
Over the past 20 years, enterprise automation took on repetitive tasks in ways that delivered integration across a range of business systems. When implemented properly, efficiency gains and error reduction justified the investment—so long as the process involved high enough volumes of repetitive tasks, and those tasks were simple and predictable.
Today’s intelligent process automation solutions, however, can go much farther than automating rote tasks and help address the continuous barrage of changes companies face on a regular basis. To deliver greater value, IPA tools incorporating machine learning and employ other AI techniques to increase their flexibility and adaptability.
Machine learning empowers these systems to learn from data and adapt to new conditions by modifying its rules sets without requiring human coding or configuration. Instead, this systems rely on supervised learning, where process owners to teach machines how processes operate by recording and adopting a new series of steps as executed by a human operator. For example, an IPA system set up to route vendor invoices for approval may not be able to find a invoice number or vendor name on an invoice document. The system can identify and flag the error for a human operator to review.
It’s possible, that when a human operator reviews the invoice, they are able to locate the invoice number and vendor name somewhere else in the document based on its format. Or, there maybe another system or data sources for the system to cross-reference. Once the IPA system is shown where to find this information within a document (or in another data source), it can automatically revise its own algorithm and look in the appropriate place next time, without human guidance and without the need for anyone to recode or reconfigure anything.
Adding intelligence to process automation can help companies to automate more complex tasks that don't always follow predictable patterns or process steps. That translates into a greater ability to deal with unstructured data sources and to add value to the process beyond efficiency gains. For example, intelligent systems can not only process documents more quickly and efficiently. They may be able to analyze contracts to identify more favorable terms. Or, they may be able to analyze data from sales order documents to anticipate buying trends and adjust inventory levels accordingly.
Before jumping into an IPA solution, companies should start by looking at existing processes for opportunities to streamline without automation. Identify process workflows, tasks and processes that can be simplified or eliminated. Next, look for repetitive, low-value tasks like document sorting and handling, data entry, workflow routing or routine reporting that is better handled by a process robot (intelligent or otherwise).
Intelligent process automation is often great for handling the kind of tasks that often fall between departments or disparate systems. Beyond simple, routine tasks, intelligent process automation can take the next step and make increasingly informed decisions within a workflow. This includes extracting text from documents that can inform workflows, approval authorities and other decision-making criteria.
Some intelligent process automation tools can even be used to analyze the processes they support to suggest process modifications that reduce process complexity, optimize cycles times and help derive the most value from any related data analysis.
To learn more about how to automate processes in a way that’s smarter, faster and easier to implement, visit the Artsyl Resource Page at www.artsyltech.com/resources/