There’s a lot of talk about the rise of robots in the workplace lately. No, you haven’t stepped into a sci fi flick and your new co-worker isn’t going to look like C-3PO. The robots that are making waves in the business world are software robots built using a robotic process automation solution.
What is a Software Robot?
The truth is that this kind of “robot” is just a new name for a familiar concept. Software robots, or bots, usually refer to what most people know as agents—individual devices running the automation solution. A robot can be installed on a PC, a physical server, or a virtual machine. Now that software robots are becoming more popular, you might hear some fearmongering about robots coming for your job. In reality, robotic process automation provides better opportunities for human employees by taking over tedious, manual, tasks and freeing up time for more strategic work that adds value to the business.
What Processes Can Software Robots Automate?
A key benefit of robotic process automation is its flexibility. If you have a repeated process—even if it spans multiple systems or requires if/then logic—your digital workforce of software bots can easily take care of it. In some cases, it’s best to automate a process end-to-end. In other situations, your bots can work alongside the human workforce.
While RPA can be used in almost any part of the business, there are a few areas where software robots are known for making a big difference in operations.
Here are the top seven software robots to consider for your business:
1. Website Interaction Bot
The internet is supposed to make our lives easier, but sometimes it can create a lot of work. If you have human employees (or risky custom scripts) handling repeated web tasks like logging into a website to upload files or collecting daily data from multiple sites, get some help from a robot.
Before RPA Every day an employee logs into a trading partner’s website, navigates through several pages, enters credentials, and downloads files.
After RPA Every day a robot logs into the website, navigates through several pages, enters credentials, downloads files, and notifies the human employee that they are ready.
2. Data Management Bot
Data is critical to running any modern business, but most organizations still struggle with the manual work involved in managing the data they collect. A data management robot can extract, manipulate, and utilize data from a variety of sources. Get assistance from a digital employee for tasks like entering data into multiple reports or scraping PDF information.
Before RPA Every day an employee logs into a website, copies financial data from the site and pastes it into an Excel report. Then the employee uploads the report to SharePoint.
After RPA Every day a robot logs into a website, copies financial data from the site and pastes it into an Excel report. Then the robot uploads the report to SharePoint.
3. IT Services Bot
IT services needs human employees for their problem solving abilities and communication skills. Software robots prevent them from getting bogged down in high-volume tasks that are simple, but repetitive.
Before RPA A request comes in for a password reset. Between more urgent tasks, an employee finds time to complete the request.
After RPA A request comes in for a password reset. A robot intercepts the request, recognizing it as an easy, rules-based task, and resets the password.
4. Human Resources Bot
Human resources employees should be all about people—recruiting them, training them, and them be successful at your company. Unfortunately, skilled HR staff often spend their days bogged down in paper processes instead. Software robots can give HR an assist throughout the entire employee lifecycle, freeing the HR team up to do what they do best—work with people.
Before RPA A new employee joins the company. He fills out a variety of forms, often asking for redundant information. An HR employee uses this information to create an IT support ticket. IT provisions the new user in Active Directory and VMWare and completes the ticket. HR emails the employee’s new manager that the employee has been successfully onboarded.
After RPA A new employee joins the company. He fills out a form which is automatically synced with other forms asking for the same information. A software robot reads the information on the form and uses it to provision the employee in Active Directory and VMWare and email the employee’s manager.
5. Claims Processing Bot
Claims processing involves a high volume of paperwork and complicated workflows. Let your software robots streamline each step in your existing process—processing incoming forms, validating eligibility, notification, payment, and more.
Before RPA An employee logs into a claims processing system and checks for new claims. The employee downloads the claims, verifies them, and loads them into an EDI system. Then the employee coordinates the benefits. If there is any exception or problem, it is set aside for another employee to handle later. The first employee calculates payments and finalizes the claim.
After RPA A robot logs into a claims processing system, downloads and verifies any new claims, and loads them into an EDI system. Then the robot coordinates the benefits. If there is any exception or problem, the claim is sent to the human employee to look at. The robot takes care of the rest.
6. Accounts Payable Bot
Almost all businesses deal with sending and receiving invoices. Software robots can be configured to automatically process invoices upon arrival, whether they arrive electronically or on paper. The robots won’t ever lose track of a form or make a calculation error.
Before RPA An invoice arrives from a vendor by email. An employee downloads the attachment, matches the invoice against a purchase order in the ERP system, and puts the invoice into the proper queue for processing.
After RPA An invoice arrives from a vendor by email. A robot uses OCR to read the invoice, match it to the purchase order, and route it to the proper queue for processing.
7. Call Center Bot
The best call center customer service will always be provided by human employees. But call center staff often struggle to quickly access customer and order information in multiple systems and update records on the fly. A digital workforce of RPA bots accessing and updating information helps your human workforce provide the best possible service.
Before RPA A customer calls to ask about a problem with her order. The human customer service representative talks to the customer while simultaneously clicking through multiple systems to find the customer’s information, the status of the order, and her order history. The customer is forced to wait for the representative to find each piece of data. After the call, the representative takes the time to add new information acquired on the call to the database.
After RPA A customer calls to ask about a problem with her order. The robot presents the representative with all the data he needs to provide quick and friendly service. The representative then moves on to another call while the robot updates the database.
Benefits of Software Robots
Bots are great employees. They don’t make mistakes, they don’t need to go home at night, and they don’t take vacation days. Handling the “robotic” tasks your skilled human employees hate doesn’t bother them. When you need more help, new robots can be added (or existing robots configured in a digital workforce to streamline new tasks) within minutes. If you need to scale back in the off-season, you can retire a few robots without needing to lay off any human workers.