More and more companies decide to invest in automation of repetitive, routine tasks (like payroll or invoice data capture), while making best use of human brains for the more complex or creative tasks. There is no need for an ‘either/or’ attitude when it comes to robotic process automation and employees, because it seems that success in the long run belongs to a harmony between human know-how and robotic processing power.
Where do Australia and New Zealand stand with respect to robotic process automation? According to CiGen founders Leigh Pullen and Daniel Pullen, RPA usage lags compared to Europe/UK and USA, but there are good signs from the latter half of 2017 of a jump in serious investigation and adoption in the region.
How exactly does robotic process automation help?
- Robotic process automation is a useful tool for maximally efficient use of a company’s available resources.
Efficiency is achieved by cancelling out the risk of error. This risk is significantly high for dull repetitive tasks performed by humans because we are doomed to boredom and all its negative effects, such as suboptimal concentration and distraction.
Richard Griffin, senior consultant at Genfour Limited, instantiates this benefit of RPA by referring to its use for mail merge — “a process to create personalised letters and pre-addressed envelopes or mailing labels mass mailings from a form letter”.
Consider all the letters returning due to invalid addresses, with the entailed costs of printing and the time-costs involved in handling and resending them. But since address validation is a rule-based process, it can be easily automated using software robots, thereby cancelling out the risk of error and its above-mentioned consequences.
According to Griffin, “RPA should be used to elevate a simple mail merge into a lean decision-based process”. The thriftiness of an RPA-based mail merge speaks for the efficiency of automation.
2. Robotic process automation is more than just a macro, or a shorthand representation for lines of code.
Griffin emphasises that robotic process automation is a dynamic, adaptable tool which goes beyond the inherent disadvantages in macros, such as full reliance on their designer (for solving any problem that may occur on the way), the overabundance of macros in an organisation with no security or management overlay, or the risk of becoming inoperable after software updates.