It’s easy to get spooked by science-fiction visions of robots taking over the world. But in reality, robots entering the workplace is great for human employees and shouldn’t be feared at all. With robotic process automation (RPA) bots, your employees can get a virtual assistant to take over their most repetitive, manual processes.
Software robots, or bots, usually refer to what most people know as tasks or even agents—individual devices running the automation solution. These bots can be installed on a PC, a physical server, or a virtual machine. Best of all, RPA bots make great coworkers—they work late, take the boring tasks you don’t want to do, and they never drink the last cup of coffee in the break room. Here are the top five ways to foster true collaboration between your human employees and your digital workforce.
1. Understand the Benefits
There are many reasons companies are turning to RPA as a solution for improving productivity, accuracy, and time savings across their employees’ tasks. Sharing the benefits or working with robots will help your employees understand why they shouldn’t fear the introduction of bots into the workforce. These are just some of the benefits employees can look forward to from their new bot coworkers:
- Boosted Productivity
By taking over the tedious, repetitive tasks, bots help their human counterparts get back their time to focus on more value-adding tasks.
- Improved Accuracy
To err is human—that’s why bots are great at helping with tasks that have high risk of human errors, like data entry.
- More Reliability
Bots can react and respond to events in real time, performing entire processes while employees keep working on other things, so you can trust your workflows to keep working 24/7.
2. Focus First on Human Employees
To get the best experience with collaborative robots, put your focus on your human employees. When you learn the benefits of RPA, it’s hard not to want to jump right in and automate everything. But your business should focus on using bots in places where your human employees are being forced to perform redundant, non-value adding tasks first.
Take a look at your existing tasks, workflows, and processes. What can be changed to help your employees do their jobs better? When you first get started with RPA, identify which systems need to change so that your human employees can spend their valuable time on tasks best suited to humans. As great as bots are, humans are still better at critical thinking, strategizing, and creative problem-solving. Always keep in mind that RPA bots aren’t here to replace employees, but should be used to assist employees to work more efficiently at their jobs.
Part of this process is also determining which department is the best fit for collaborative robots. Some businesses may use RPA technologies as a payroll automation tool while others may rely on it for human resource on-boarding processes. A best practice is for your business to focus on identifying the various, internal processes that benefit most from an RPA solution.
3. Find Your Automation Approach
Not all robots are created equal. Different robots handle different activities and should be applied in the right areas. Attended automation is when robots work alongside you to make your everyday tasks easier. There is needed human intervention as these tasks go into action when a user commands it to run in order to help streamline processes for tasks like screen scraping or GUI automation, among others.
Unattended automation works behind the scenes. Robots work from a triggered action—like a file being added to a folder—managing high volumes of data and information. Unattended automation helps with tasks like file transfers or monitoring files in a folder. Both types of automation are key for human collaboration with robots, and companies can use one type or a mix—whatever suits their employees’ needs best.
4. Use Collaborative Robots for Every Employee
As your automation footprint grows—with the right solution—you’ll be able to provide a bot for every employee. A great enterprise RPA solution should be able to provide unlimited bots so every employee can have an assistant. There are various processes to automate where you can use collaborative robots in the workplace. Here are just a few:
- IT Services Bots
Before RPA: A request comes in for a password reset. Between more urgent tasks, IT staff 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 automatically. Meanwhile, the human employee is off addressing more urgent matters requiring their skills.
- Data Extraction Bots
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 automatically. At that point, the human employee can analyze the numbers without first having to spend time collecting the data themselves.
- Accounts Payable Bots
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. All while the human employee continues to work on their more value-adding tasks.
5. Make Your Robots Work Overtime
Not only can RPA bots give your employees more time while on the clock, they can also help improve their work-life balance. When employees take vacation, get sick, or even just go home for the night, sometimes there’s still work left to be done. Collaborative robots can work 24/7 with no time off. Allowing your employees the freedom to not have to worry about keeping up with demand when they’re taking care of themselves.
RPA bots can help you with tasks like website monitoring that need constant 24/7 attention. Instead of having a human employee monitor the status of critical web pages that may affect your company’s bottom line, a website automation bot can check at specified intervals and send alerts to key stakeholders. The bot stays working and gives peace of mind to your employees to know that things are running smoothly.
Digitally Transform Your Business
Streamlining your most tedious repetitive tasks helps you run your business more efficiently, allowing you to save precious resources and focus on important work. Digitally transforming your business with collaborative RPA bots doesn’t mean taking jobs away from employees. Rather, by eliminating the manual tasks burdening your human workforce, your employees can focus on the strategic work that makes an impact.