When it comes to robots and our future as human beings, there are two different sides to the story. On the one side, you’ve probably watched terrifying imaginings like The Matrix and The Terminator. On the other side, you see can the reality of machines working side by side with humans every day. This is visibly taking place in the manufacturing sector, with physical machines and robotic arms doing manual labor. But it’s also present in a behind-the-scenes capacity within many other industries, like banking, accounting, hospitality, education, utilities, and more. They are given names like “Process and Data Automation” or “Robotic Process Automation.”
When businesses are looking at process improvement tools, generally they’re interested in robotic process automation, in combination with things like document management software, eforms, and OCR software. These tools go hand in hand with today’s process improvement methodologies. They allow for human workers to do less busywork and more high-value tasks.
So, does it make sense for your business to invest in robotic process automation? Let’s take a look at the benefits of process and data automation, so you can determine whether or not it makes sense for you.
Cloud-based – In today’s workplace, more and more often, accounting is taking place in the cloud, meaning that accounting software is hosted on an offsite server. In fact, according to one expert, nearly 90% of large accounting firms will be using cloud-based accounting practices by the end of 2017. Document management software, OCR software, eforms, and robotic process automation go hand-in-hand with cloud-based accounting, allowing a fully electronic and mostly automated experience. Another benefit of having cloud-based processes is that information is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Documents can be viewed on mobile devices. Employees can work from home, and they can have flexible schedules. These are the kinds of perks that today’s employees are looking for.
Task and Process Automation – With robotic process automation, specific tasks and processes can be automated. Decisions can be made by Bots (task automation robots within the software). Documents can be routed automatically. Data entry can be completed using OCR, without a user having to touch the 10-key. A once-tedious task, like 3-way matching, becomes automated to the point where a user only has to examine the documents if there is an exception. Such process improvement tools have been known to save companies time and money. For example, after employing robotic process automation within their accounting department, Alimera Sciences saw a 93% reduction in invoice processing time. It’s not just making people’s job easier. It’s significantly saving time, which translates to saving money.
Visibility – Managers of paperless processes have far more visibility than managers of paper-based processes do. Some basic reports and analytics can allow management to view the processes that are pending, in process, and completed. They can see who is doing what, and they can determine where bottlenecks are happening. Performance levels are transparent, and no extra time or energy must be expended to gain a high-level view of your processes.
Paperless – When you take a peek into the storage closets and vacant offices at your organization, what do you see? Are there boxes and boxes full of files? If so, do you think maybe it’s time to go paperless? Many companies say that they can’t imagine how their current processes could be transformed into paperless process. That said, once they do transition, the same companies find themselves wondering how they ever did things manually on paper. The fear of change is real, but so are the benefits of paperless processing. A good document management software solution can revolutionize the way a company does business and can provide a substantial ROI. What does this have to do with Robots, you may be asking. Great question! The Bots come into play in a couple of ways. For one, when documents are submitted to the document management software, OCR software can be used to pull data and index documents accordingly. Further, eforms (or electronic forms) can be create and hosted within the document management system or on an external website. These paperless eforms can be used to kick off processes within the organization.
Audibility and Increased Compliance – How does your company keep track of a document’s history? Are several revisions stored as paper files? Is one copy stored with a number of revisions and signatures on it? How about keeping track of where an item is within the process or what steps it has already gone through? You probably have a way of tracking these things, but it might not be particularly easy. For many companies, it’s either not tracked, or it’s a tedious tracking process. Bots make this kind of thing easy. With robotic process automation and document management software, auditing and compliance are made easy. Processes can be tracked and reported on. If auditing and compliance are taking a lot of your company’s resources, it may be time for you to invest in Bots.
Millennial-friendly – As more and more Millennials (those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) enter the workplace, training methods are being revitalized. This up-and-coming workforce is quick to learn new technology and has the expectation that work will be rewarding and that processes will be automated when possible. More and more businesses are beginning to invest in process improvement tools. Not only do Bots make work easier for veteran employees, but they also make training a breeze by regulating and automating business practices. RPA can help managers train the next generation!
If you’re interested in investing in software robots and joining the ranks of organizations like Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, who saw an annual saving of $100,000 with robotic process automation, sign up for a free custom demo of our solution. See what software robots can do for you!