What is process automation?
Process automation, also commonly referred to as robotic process automation (RPA), is the use of technology to automate rules-based business processes that follow a predefined set of steps. With process automation, software is used to create a virtual full-time equivalent (FTE) which has the ability to complete tasks in the same way a human does.
Process automation can be used to automate tasks such as:
- Logging in to applications
- Filling out forms
- Extracting structured data
- Merging data from multiple sources
- Formatting data for reports
- Copying and pasting information
- Reading and writing databases
- Connecting to system APIs
- Opening emails and attachments
- Moving files and folders
The increased use of process automation has provoked questions around what happens to humans after we automate? It is important to note that automation doesn't eliminate the need for human workers; it increases demand for more highly-trained employees who have a nuanced skillset (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, emotional intelligence).
Benefits of process automation
Process automation streamlines enterprise operations and helps to reduce costs. Other benefits associated with process automation include:
- Increased productivity: Reducing the number of repetitive tasks employees need to complete through automation means they can work more efficiently.
- Higher employee satisfaction: Freed from repetitive and often mundane tasks, team members can focus on more rewarding work, like business process improvement, innovation and customer engagement.
- Greater accuracy: Automated processes are completed the exact same way every time, reducing error and offering consistency and dependability.
- Reduced customer effort: Process automation can be used to automatically capture data from self-service portals and input it into other relevant systems, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Easier access to information creates greater efficiency for both employees and customers.
- Improved customer experience: Automating tasks results in faster processing of customer inquiries or complaints with fewer mistakes, improving a customer’s overall experience.