The digital workforce
Automation technologies are not a recent innovation. Nevertheless, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is conquering all industries more than ever before. Today´s process environments are making this topic relevant again. Why?
Business process requirements are increasing. The number of process cycles and thus also the number of manual and repetitive activities are increasing. Negative effects on process performance such as quality fluctuations, a loss of transparency, and wait time are instantly noticeable.
RPA is an integration technology for the automation of business flows that emulates human activities. That is, each click, each data input, each search from different systems such as SAP, Internet, database, etc. and the combination of information from different files are done by the robots according to particular rules and regulations. The special feature: they work across system and interface boundaries and can be incorporated into existing system architectures.
The digital workforce works together with the employees
and relieves them of manual, repetitive and monotonous
RPA systems can learn with AI
There are three types of bots: classic, RPA-OCR, and AI bots.
- The classic RPA bots have only limited “intelligence” and work using a specified process flow. However, the future belongs to the cognitive RPA systems.
- RPA-OCR bots offer more: text recognition technology for automated processing of semi-structured and unstructured data.
- The AI bots are based on artificial intelligence (AI) methods, for example context analyses, language processing, image and pattern detection. As such, they have the capability to analyse processes independently, and to prioritize and implement automations.
Reduction of process throughput time with adherence to quality and simultaneous cost reduction
Digital “employees” work alongside human ones and relieve the people of manual, repetitive, and monotonous activities. The human employees can then focus on value-creating core activities, while simultaneously optimizing cost efficiency and eliminating downtimes – with the highest-quality processes and results. Other reasons for using this technology for entry into digitalization are its quick implementation scalability, system independence, and fast ROI.
A simple example: a company uses various applications for the same flows at its branch offices. In order to consolidate these flows in the central office, an employee has to combine all the information manually. In the future, a bot will be able to do this. Other examples of tasks for RPA bots are master data maintenance, automatic sending of order confirmations, checking invoices, and many more.
But RPA is not an all-purpose weapon. For a successful implementation, the processes to be automated have to fulfill certain prerequisites, which depend on the goals of the automation. If, for example, the focus is on reducing costs, then the process should be a frequently used one that requires a lot of human intervention.
If the proof-of-value is successful, the bots can be rolled
out to further processes and, in the long term, to other company
A successful RPA initiative starts with the suitability test – the proof of value
With a Proof of Value, many companies do more than achieve the technological potential, they also gain employee acceptance. If the Proof of Value is successful, the bots can be rolled out for additional processes and, in the long term, in other areas of the company.
APPLYING FOR SHORTTIME WORK WITH BOT – A USE CASE FOR RPA
More than 650,000 companies have applied for short-time working in recent months. They have now developed a software robot for this. Why is this necessary?
Blaser: Applying for short-time work benefits is time-consuming. In addition, most companies apply for short-time work for the first time and therefore have no experience to fall back on. There is also no IT interface for this.
All details are entered manually into a form. To make matters worse, this settlement list from the employment agency must be filled out and submitted on a monthly basis. This creates a lot of manual and error-prone work in the companies. This is because the employer is responsible for the calculation.
In what way does the bot help the companies?
Blaser: It takes care of entering the data. To do this, companies must first export all master data and wage figures to an Excel spreadsheet. We offer a template for this, which automatically carries out all calculations. The bot reads this table and enters it correctly into the form of the employment agency. This means for the companies: The form reaches the employment agency without errors and there are no payment delays.
Software robots execute processes largely independently, without having to be pre-configured or programmed for particular tasks. For example, they are in a position to serve as an interface between IT systems and the authorities’ official forms. More complex robots evaluate text documents and discover relationships and similarities between elements in these, elements that belong to particular business processes – invoices, PO numbers, delivery addresses, assets, liabilities, etc. This way, software robots become flexible and they can learn. They also manage processes with information that is ambiguous. This increases the rationalization effect of RPA even more – and it is already surprisingly large today. Studies have shown that business processes run five to ten times faster than previously and companies can deploy their resources to create value, leaving the routine tasks to the robots.Benedikt Blasser, partner success manager, dach, automation anywhere
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BETTINA WITTIG, Associate, STAUFEN.AG
Project experience in the areas of purchasing, development, finance and controlling, human resources
Experience in setting up Shop Floor Management, analysis and optimization of business processes, management of seminars, specialists and executive trainings, process automation with RPA
FRANK KRÜGER, Senior Partner, STAUFEN.AG
14 years consulting experience in Lean Transformation and performance improvements in administrative functions
Management of a multitude of successful projects in administrative functions, optimizations of order to cash processes and management of an international Lean Six Sigma deployment