What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?


A popular question this year has been “What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?” and more specifically “What are the benefits of RPA for my business.”

The robots are coming.  It’s a fact that businesses need to embrace.  In a typical office, so many day-to-day tasks are completed by following repetitive behaviors, adhering to a strict set of rules.  How many of us recall the mind-numbing copying, or transcribing, of data from one place to another in our early careers?  As you knew at the time – humans are more valuable than this.

Robotic Process Automation enables businesses to free up staff to focus on valuable problem solving, creative challenges and direct customer or partner interactions – areas where automation simply isn’t possible (at least in this day and age).  Through RPA, tasks that involve repetitive, rules-based, behaviors can be assigned to a robot (typically a software-driven system, rather than an archetypal mechanical robot).

Research by McKinsey & Company indicates that the automation market is likely to be the third most impactful change for businesses over the remainder of the decade (just behind the growth in mobile internet and wireless technologies).  In another report, McKinsey and Company suggest that up to “45 percent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies”.  It’s time to consider not whether RPA is relevant to your business, but how it is relevant.

What are the benefits of Robotic Process Automation?

  • Accuracy – once programmed, an RPA ‘bot’ will not deviate from the task, copy-pasting is 100% accurate, information is never miskeyed and quality never wanes due to fatigue.
  • Scalability – bringing more bots online to tackle greater volumes of the same process is a simple task of cloning the original bot, no training required. Modifying a bot’s program to extend their remit can be just a tweak to a few lines of code.  RPA enables businesses to rapidly scale up, or down, without the need to train, hire or restructure employees to meet changing demands.
  • Speed – working at the speed of a machine, bots can process vast amounts of information, far more quickly than a human. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, RPA paves the way for self-refining processes that improve in efficiency and speed as time goes on.
  • Security – when programmed correctly, RPA presents a reliably secure workforce. Gone are the worries of accidental data leakage, malicious acts, or vulnerabilities from the exploitation of human weaknesses.  Security becomes a matter of encryption of data transfers, hardening of firewalls and something that can be outsourced to an RPA partner, rather than an HR concern.
  • Visibility – every action a bot takes can be recorded for review and auditing at a later date. Total transparency and visibility of all activity is achieved through RPA.

How to implement Robotic Process Automation

There are various ways to bring RPA into your business, typically it is advisable to partner with a specialist for automating whichever aspect of your business you wish to focus on.  Some solutions are driven by code level commands, and some use a full abstraction layer that accesses the user interface of your business systems as a human would.

The initial set up of Robotic Process Automation is key to its success.  Taking the time to ensure all eventualities are covered and any outliers or extremes can trigger a manual checking request will save time later.  Where data is transferred between systems, ensure this cannot be intercepted and establish a protocol for handling breaks in communication.

RPA only works when processes can either be digitized, or are inherently electronic in nature.  In addition to this, automation needs to follow rules.  Without complex AI, it’s hard for RPA solutions to handle tasks which require evaluation or judgement of any kind.  RPA is best suited to repetitive, rules-based, tasks, leaving the decision-making process for humans.

Robotic Process Automation and Accounts Receivable

Accounts Receivable is an area of business ideally suited to Robotic Process Automation.  Many businesses underutilize their AR teams, losing time to repetitive tasks that can be automated via RPA.  Automating repetitive tasks frees up AR teams to focus on the areas that require human expertise, such as dealing with anomalies and answering questions.

At Corcentric, we have been helping global businesses automate AR processes for over a decade.  We can help you pinpoint the most repetitive AR processes, establish secure and dependable automation routines for these and roll out automation in a scalable manner – even across multiple countries, business units or brands within a parent company.

Our approach requires minimal time and technical support from your IT department, enabling fast deployment based on proven approaches refined over years of experience.  Corcentric integrates with existing Accounts Receivable infrastructure directly – removing the need to export or copy data from one system to another.

With Corcentric, the output of the automated processes needn’t be restricted to electronic format communications.  If certain customers still require paper-based communications, Corcentric offers a centralized print and postage service to deliver each communication at a fraction of your existing cost.