Essentially, RPA is the use of software robots that can be programmed or trained to execute repetitive, rules-based tasks currently performed by employees.
Examples include data entry, data capture and categorisation, copying and pasting, and many of the steps in such processes as billing and accounts payable, claims or loan processing, or order fulfillment.
But wait! RPA is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, currently there are three forms of RPA: Unattended, attended and a new hybrid offering--here are the differences.
RPA: Unattended Automation
RPA in its purest form: software robots that can execute process steps for repetitive, rules-based tasks. They can process work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the exact same way--reducing or even eliminating errors.
The robots live on a virtual machine or server, which can house a virtual, digital workforce of cross-skilled robots to draw upon for different tasks and processes as volumes or priorities ebb and flow.
It's as if you own a personal temp agency you can call on during seasonal peaks to help handle an influx of requests. Want help deciding which processes are prime for unattended automation? Read this executive perspective.
Attended automation is like having your own personal coach. The robot works alongside you, the human worker, offering processing assistance. An employee can have the robot "show me" how to do a task or process, or ask the robot to "do it for me."
For example, you may want new hires to leverage the "show me" option as they learn a new process. But once they understand how it works, they could have the robot do the process step for them. Such steps might include:
- Cross-application data population
- Data gathering from multiple sources
- Conducting a preliminary analysis of data and presenting the employee with insights for better decision making.
Attended automations can also prevent employees from performing tasks, such as approving loans above their authorisation credentials.
RPA: Hybrid of the Two
Hybrid automation enables the passing of work to robots automatically or by employee prompt, allowing the robot and employee to work on different tasks simultaneously.
This ability to move work back and forth between the robots and employee works especially well for processes that have:
- Both structured and unstructured data
- Key "decisioning" touch points
- Multiple variations or outcomes.
The knowledge worker is needed to make judgment calls based on the context and data available. They can also use creative thinking to identify new, innovative ways of working.
These are three ways to improve efficiencies, accuracy and employee engagement. Want an example of Hybrid Automation in action? Read the eBook: Humans and RPA Robots Working Side-by-Side: Are You Ready?