A day in the life of RPA in a midmarket enterprise

Robotic Process Automation in action – three use case scenarios

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a powerful – and powerfully simple – technology tool that midmarket enterprises can leverage to reduce overhead, improve accuracy, focus employee talents and boost service levels. Since the term, and the technology itself, still hold a bit of mystery for many, we thought the best way to demonstrate the capabilities and the value of RPA is to provide two practical use case scenarios – essentially a day in the life of a RPA robot (bot) at your midsized enterprise – plus the easily identifiable wins associated with each case. Of course, your business’s workflows will vary from those below, but the point is that if it can be done by a human data entry operator, it can be done through RPA.

RPA automates quotation creation

In this use case scenario, RPA creates and delivers quotations based on transactions initiated on your company’s website.

  1. The RPA bot scans a designated email box looking for requests for quote initiated on your company’s website.
  2. The RPA bot opens your CRM application and logs in. It queries the application to see if the prospect is already on file. If not, the bot clicks “New” to create a new contact using the contact information from the email request.
  3. Next, the bot opens your ERP application, logs in, opens the sales order application and creates a new quotation, adding the items it has “read” from the email.
  4. The bot prints the quotation to PDF, and attaches the file to an email response to the prospect.
  5. The bot attaches the quotation to the contact’s record in your CRM application, and triggers a workflow process for an agent to follow up with the prospect in x-many days.
  6. When the RPA bot detects an exception or anomaly, such as an unrecognized item number or a required data element is missing, the bot flags the transaction for review and resolution by your staff.

The wins

  • Quotes are delivered to prospects more quickly – and around the clock if desired
  • Staff can spend more time on personal follow-up interactions
  • Data entry errors are eliminated
  • Quickly scalable during periods of heavier workload

 

RPA automates invoice data entry

In this use case scenario, RPA automates accounts payable invoice data entry.

  1. The RPA software robot reviews an email box looking for PDF attachments, then downloads and saves those attachments to a new folder.
  2. Invoices received in paper format are scanned by staff and placed in the same folder.
  3. The robot “reads” each document in the file, and places pertinent information into Excel spreadsheets, saving each spreadsheet in a prescribed location.
  4. The robot logs into your ERP application, accesses the accounts payable invoice data entry task and creates a new invoice associated with each initiating document.
  5. Does the invoice reference a purchase order? If so, RPA can compare the invoice to the purchase order and make the decision to approve and continue or flag as an exception.
  6. Using a procurement management system to review and approve invoices? The bot can log in to that application, and follow the steps to initiate the approval routing process, based on the workflow rules you have established.
  7. When the RPA bot detects an exception or anomaly, the bot flags the transaction for review and resolution by your staff.
  8. The RPA robot sends an email confirmation to the designated user or users confirming completion of the task.

The wins

  • Accuracy is improved
  • Staff can be reassigned to high-value tasks
  • Clear record of completed transactions is preserved

 

Think of RPA bots as virtual employees

To better understand RPA in action, it’s important to outline how RPA bots act on and with your data. A bot can be trained to fetch and interact with data from multiple separate and unrelated systems. It’s illustrative to think of an RPA bot as a virtual or digital employee, in that they act on your data and systems just like a human would, working back and forth between different applications. Rather than operating at a program level, RPA operates at a user level and requires no code-level changes to your software systems.

We’ve featured just two practical uses of RPA here, but there are dozens of examples of other tasks that make great candidates for RPA, including:

  • Credit application processing and monitoring
  • Expense report entry and audits
  • Examine system logs to identify suspicious activity
  • Process customer payments

Essentially, if you can describe the work, if the work is rules-based rather than subjective, if the work can be performed electronically, and if the data is structured (or made structured through OCR for example) then the work is a good candidate for RPA.

BTerrell works with midmarket enterprises to implement RPA solutions that fit your business operations, allow you to do more with fewer resources and result in a rapid return on investment. Contact me at brian.terrell@bterrell.com to start the conversation.

 

More reading on the subject of RPA:

The Basics about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation, More value, less investment

An RPA Q&A, Five things to know about Robotics Process Automation

7 Ways Robotic Process Automation helps the Mid-market

A day in the life of a RPA midmarket enterprise bot

Can RPA replace outsourcing?

Scaling RPA to the mid-market enterprise

How does RPA affect IT and DevOps?

RPA's role in automation in finance for midmarket financial services companies