What Is RPA?
Leslie Willcocks, a professor of technology, work, and globalization at the London School of Economics, defines robotic process automation like this:
RPA is a type of software that mimics the activity of a human being in carrying out a task within a process. It can do repetitive stuff more quickly, accurately, and tirelessly than humans, freeing them to do other tasks requiring human strengths such as emotional intelligence, reasoning, judgment, and interaction with the customer.
There’s a huge range of applications for robotics process automation. For us here at NextProcess, we mainly focus on RPA for data entry. Keep reading for the top 10 reasons why RPA data entry could be the right choice for your business.
1) More Accurate Data Entry
RPA data entry is more accurate than manual data entry. Software bots aren’t prone to human error and they don’t get tired or distracted. There are no typos and no entries going in the wrong field. The exact degree of accuracy depends on the optical character recognition (OCR) that the bot software uses. At NextProcess, we offer 99.9% data entry accuracy. And our system captures huge amounts of data. In addition to what’s on the document, the system records virtually everything about the document including metadata about when it was received, how it was submitted, who within the company has seen it, etc.
2) No Down-Time
Software bots can work all the time – 24-hours a day every single day of the year – at 100% capacity. RPA doesn’t take holidays, doesn’t sleep, won’t need sick days, and never has an “emotionally unproductive” day. It’s perfectly understandable that human employees need those things. Bots help make sure there’s time for them to enjoy their vacations, get enough sleep, and take care of their health rather than scrambling and working overtime to keep up with data entry.
3) Increased Productivity
The fact that RPA can do round-the-clock data entry without pausing to fix errors means it gets more work done than a human doing the same job could. Typically, a data entry bot can do the work of 4 to 8 regular employees. And if you had in-house employees who were handling the data entry before you started using bots, they now get the chance to focus their energy on more productive tasks. Plus, having the data entered automatically in an easily searched format makes it easier for employees to use the information, which increases their productivity as well.
4) Fast Implementation
Getting data entry bots up and running goes quickly. Implementing a new RPA software system certainly happens much faster than training a new person. You can have data entry software bots up and running in just days. In contrast, if you wanted to hire a new human employee you’d be taking time to sort through resumes, conduct interviews, go through the hiring process, and then train them once you finally find someone.
5) Easy To Scale
If you ever get too much work for your robotics process automation to handle there’s a simple solution. Just add extra bots. That’s much easier than hiring and training new employees for data entry tasks. RPA creates a system that’s very easy to scale with your growing business. You just contact your software provider, let them know what you need, and they’ll get it set up.
6) No Training Time
If your process changes and the bots need to learn something new, you can either replace them with new bots or alter their programming. That goes much faster than training employees in new tasks. And that’s also going to save you the money it would cost for existing employees to take time away from other tasks to train new hires.
7) They’ll Never Quit
With RPA, you don’t have to worry about employees quitting or dealing with turnover. Bots don’t care how hard they’re working, whether or not they’re happy in their jobs, or how many repetitive tasks they get stuck with. They never retire or decide it’s time to move on to a different job. In short, bots mean you’ll never have to worry about hiring and training new employees for data entry again.
8) Repatriate Jobs
People are often concerned about robotic process automation taking jobs away from real people. But a lot of companies who need manual data entry already aren’t hiring local employees for those tasks. They’re outsourcing their data entry overseas. Since the bots would be managed/hosted here in the USA, using RPA actually repatriates jobs.
9) Tighter Security
When human employees are entering data there’s always a certain amount of risk. No one likes to think their employees would betray them, but the simple fact is that most fraud happens internally. And even when you can trust your employees, having them enter sensitive data can still be a privacy concern. Bots don’t understand the significance or meaning of the data they’re working with, which protects the privacy of your vendors and clients. Plus, bots don’t have to save/memorize passwords like a human so there’s less risk of a password breach.
10) Minimal IT Resources
Maintaining software bots requires minimal IT resources. In some cases, IT doesn’t need to get involved at all. Your RPA systems will be managed by the software provider. They’re responsible for maintenance, updates, etc. That takes the burden off IT (which probably already has more work than they can handle) and saves your company money.
What About The Real People?
One of the biggest worries associated with robotic process automation is that it will put real people out of a job. According to Frank Casale, founder and chairman emeritus of Institute for Robotic Process Automation, RPA isn’t taking away jobs so much as it is making them easier.
Casale uses IT as an example, pointing out that “The average IT professional spends 80 percent of his time keeping the lights on and 20 percent [focusing] on critical work. … [With] RPA the bulk of the mundane work gets done by software – freeing team members to focus on innovation.”
Sure data entry bots will take data entry jobs away from real people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the people are losing their jobs. It might just mean they finally have time for the sort of tasks they were hoping to do when they were hired. It means they can focus on the engaging, meaningful work that bots can’t do. In the long term, we’re not planning on process automation replacing people We’re hoping that RPA will help people do work that interests them.
In addition, the sort of autoprocessing systems that usually accompanies data entry RPA make the jobs that do require a human tough easier. Take accounts payable automation for example. The goal with automation is to get about 80 to 90 percent of the invoices auto-processed. But for the 10 to 20 percent that need human intervention, the same tools that make auto processing possible also make it easier to manually look up information and get exceptions invoices processed. Having the right tools makes a huge difference for your employees.
How Do You Get Started?
Once you decide you want to use RPA for data entry, you just have to find a software provider to work with. Get one that’s compatible with your ERP system and they’ll handle pretty much everything else.