Too many of today’s information workers perform tasks that are the 21st-century equivalent of installing a tire on a new car over and over again. Workers at a number of small and medium-size businesses, from call centers, financial services, to other professional service providers, instead of answering more calls or attending to the needs of customers while they have them on the line, are copying and pasting basic information into templates that should be automatically populated.
This rework is monotonous — sending follow-up emails after sales calls, processing invoices from contractors, logging phone calls and hundreds of other small things — and inefficient use of a seasoned workers’ time. They’re living in the information age, but they’re more analogous to early factory workers.
The natural progression, then, is to automate those tasks just as the manufacturing industry has done. This is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) comes in, and it’s becoming more widely used than ever.
And there are important benefits from this kind of automation technology:
Repurposing human work
At many companies, there is a ticket for everything. If something in the kitchen breaks a repair ticket is created, the service department comes out to fix it and the ticket is closed after the work is completed. The process works seamlessly until the end, when someone has to go through all of the tickets manually to verify that the job is finished and the ticket can be closed, even without knowing whether or not it was done right or actually completed. RPA can simplify this entire process by automating approvals based on true job completion.
Streamlining existing processes
Accounting is still a very manual process in many companies. Invoices have to be printed, reviewed and then the proper information from each invoice needs to be entered into the accounting database. This opens up the process to “fat-fingered” data entry mistakes, backlogs and other issues, all problems that RPA can address better. These improvements free up staff time for workers to spend on solving customer problems and deepening their engagement with your company.
Improving digital systems
Believe it or not, plenty of work still requires an immense amount of non-value-added copy and paste or re-entry from one system to another. A great example is consumer loan-processing. For many banks and credit unions whose core banking and customer relationship management systems do not communicate with each other, employees need to manually look at both systems to pull necessary information that isn’t stored in both. This problem is more common than anyone would imagine. An RPA-based system would replace human involvement in this entire process, pulling the correct data elements every time and feeding everything directly into the system for review and next steps.
As more and more information businesses embrace automation it’s like opening the floodgates – those that adopt these tools gain a competitive advantage and those that don’t risk falling behind. Those that are able to automate and spend less time on redundant activity open themselves up to take on higher-value work. They have more capacity to do new things, helping keep their backlog from growing.