Robotic process automation, RPA, refers to a software robot that emulates human execution of repetitive processes with existing applications and interfaces. The current global market size is estimated to be approximately 2 billion euros. Annual growth is expected to be over 60% until 2020. RPA has arrived also to Finland and e.g. a large Nordic bank and the Finnish Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and HR have already tested and utilized the possibilities of software robotics.

Robotic Process Automation is oftentimes described as an easy, fast and inexpensive way to improve the efficiency of a company, shorten the turnaround and eliminate human errors. In order to fully benefit from RPA, it’s advisable to first clarify, ponder and resolve various issues.

Strategic questions:

What does RPA mean for our organization? Is it sensible for us to utilize software robotics? Should we embrace RPA in our core business, support functions, or in both? What kind of goals do we set for utilizing software robotics? Do we have enough internal resources to embark on the development work with the help of RPA? Finally, how do we ensure that our own learning and know-how is on an adequate level?

Operative questions:

How do we get started with RPA? What kind of processes and sub processes do we have? Which of them are best suited for RPA? Which application areas provide us with the biggest benefits? Which RPA tools and methods are best suited for our processes? What kind of investments are we looking at to utilize the software robotics – and how big cost savings and other benefits can we expect to obtain?

When the potential application areas have been identified and analyzed in detail in terms of feasibility and business benefits, it‘s time to test RPA in practice.

6 steps to testing the functionality/benefit of Robotic Process Automation:

1. Build a plan for Proof-of-Concept, create acceptance criteria and plan the resourcing.
2. Pick the guinea pigs:2-3 tasks or sub processes where a robot is tested. Scrutinize them down to the level of keyboard command.
3. Analyze the available RPA tools and solutions in relation to the needs of your organization. Select a minimum of two robots in order to enable comparison.
4. Install the selected software robot in your system environment (???).
5. ”Train” the robots and put them to work.
6. Analyze the results.

Finally: make the strategic and operative decisions regarding the role of RPA in your organization – and realize them.

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