‘Hire’ an RPA bot to get things done faster they said. But when?

Robotic process automation (RPA) has quickly become one of the hottest topics among C-suites and startups.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Everyone wants their organization to be seen as tech-oriented. Telling people that you have bots working 24/7 becomes the coolest thing ever. But, there is one thing your co-workers did not tell you. The bot you are so proud of is not very smart. It fails all the time, and it takes up so much of their time to fix the bot and get it back running. Eventually, people demand that you ‘fire’ the bot so they can go back to their old routine.

So, how do you decide if you should hire a bot instead of another real human being?

There is no doubt that an RPA bot can help to save cost and time. A bot is typically configured to take up the dull work so people can have more time to spend on analytical work. However, there is a trick to achieving this goal. There are three things on the checklist that you need to consider before stepping out of your office to find an RPA bot.

RPA Bots are only smart enough to process digitized inputs and outputs

Most of the time, an RPA vendor will make promises saying that OCR achieves up to 99% accuracy, that is not enough.

RPA bots are designed to process digitized sources such as Excel and text files. Even though you will find OCR Tesseract as an alternative to process ‘not-digitized’ sources, OCR is not a reliable command that you should let your bot use. An RPA vendor would make promises saying that OCR achieves up to 99% accuracy, but we all know that 99% is just not enough when you have thousands of transactions to process everyday.

The nature of RPA bots is to do the redundant tasks that we humans find cumbersome to do. In return, people would expect bots to be 100% functional on its own so they can dedicate their time to more exciting work. It will be counter-intuitive if people have to check on the bot from time to time to make sure it’s doing the right thing.

The task is manual and repetitive in nature.

You might want to consider hiring a bot if you have a high volume of transactions to process on a day-to-day basis, and you have hired a good number of people to do these tasks. Here are some sample processes selected for bot execution:

  • Data entry
  • Data checking/validation
  • Formatting/ Copy and paste work
  • Data transfer from one system to another

The application scope of an RPA bot is broad. You can easily configure the bot to execute a new process by re-using some of the common codes you have coded previously. The perks of using an RPA bot is that the bot is easily scalable to be used by other processes.

There are specific business rules that confine the task to be done.

RPA bots are invented to help with high volume tasks that may span across different systems and with the occurrence of errors when done by human.

However, it is essential to understand that RPA bots are not AI-driven. For example, if you only configured your RPA bot to input data in the name field, then the bot will not key any data into address or gender fields.

So, it is crucial that you gather accurate and manageable business requirements upfront, and then analyze if the requirements are logical for the RPA bot to execute. Remember, the bot is smart enough to add millions of numbers together in a second of time, but it will never know how to decide if Seller A is better than Seller B.

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

Summary

In short, RPA bots are built to mimic human interaction, and unlike Excel macros, RPA bots can interact with multiple systems at a time. There is also no need to change your existing IT infrastructure to implementing RPA bots. However, you can only unlock the full benefits of an RPA bot if you selected the most suitable task/process for RPA automation.

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Changing the world with data points, one word at a time. #naturalLanguageProcessing #textMining #sentimentAnalysis

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