A recent report by Research Nester suggests that two-thirds of management tasks will be automated by 2024. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a highly versatile software solution that will be instrumental in this transformation of the business world.
Firms of every stripe can use RPA to automate a diverse mix of processes, applications, and operations with tangible benefits that include saving time and money and boosting productivity and employee satisfaction.
This article will highlight some of the best ways teams can use RPA to drive efficiency, reduce costs, and unlock new levels of productivity.
10 manual business processes, applications,
and operations enabled by RPA
The Robotic Process Automation market is expanding at an incredible pace. Depending on which source you believe, the industry’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the next seven years is forecast from between 20% to 40%.
It is clear that business leaders see RPA investment as a key part of their digital transformation strategies. As forward-thinking firms embrace hyperautomation, RPA will achieve near-universal adoption.
Teams that adopt this software will gain an edge over competitors because RPA will be able to handle operations such as data entry, invoice, and payment processing, customer service tasks, employee onboarding, and more.
Here is a look at some of the tasks this tech can automate, enabling businesses to use their resources more wisely.
#1. Data Entry
Data Entry is a vital business function in the digital age. Yet, it is also one of the most repetitive and tedious manual processes. It also suffers from a high human error rate. Implementing automation makes a lot of sense for companies that manage a lot of data.
RPA will be able to handle operations such as:
- Pulling data from various sources, including third-party software
- Minimizing human error and ensuring that data quality and integrity are up to scratch
- Accelerating the data entry processes
- Extracting and cleaning data to ensure it’s properly structured for centralized databases
In the last digital.gov annual report from 2022, the organization suggested that it had helped the federal government reduce about 1.5 million work hours by using RPA.
One case study highlighted by the report shows how the Naval Supply System Command (NAVSUP) used RPA to increase the value and efficiency of its mission to lower pollution and hazardous materials resulting from its maritime operations.
In particular, RPA enabled the organization to reduce the manual entry of data into the Navy’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. The automated processes include reading and capturing data from a web-based application and sending it to their ERP. The NAVSUP tech lead suggests adopting RPA has cut training down from days or weeks to mere minutes. Overall, the process has saved over 6000 hours of manual work per year.
#2. Return processing
As anyone who runs an eCommerce business knows, return processing is a time-consuming task. Average return rates for eCommerce platforms sit at 18.1%, with other estimates suggesting the number is closer to a staggering 30%. Returns processing is one of those tasks that doesn’t add value to the order book. However, failure to do it efficiently can damage a business’s reputation and result in lost customers.
Processing a return contains several manual steps. RPA will be able to handle operations such as:
- Reading and extracting information from the customer’s communication and adding it to the return order system.
- Curating returns by replying to the customers, sending out shipping labels, and tracking the return
- Coordinating returns or exchanges by authorizing transactions and updating accounts
- Communicating with the customer through each step of the journey, providing tracking updates and timelines
A solid returns policy matters. Shippo, an American shipping software integration platform, shared results from a recent survey that suggest that over eight in ten customers read a company’s return policy before buying goods, and almost half will choose alternative vendors if the policy is not to their liking.
Automating the returns policy is transformative for busy eCommerce operations because it frees up staff to focus on tasks that generate revenue and customer loyalty.
The value of solid onboarding experiences has become very apparent in recent years. User onboarding takes most of the focus because of its effect on the bottom line. However, employee and third-party vendor onboarding are critical processes that also deserve attention. Firms get one chance to make a first impression, and if they get it right, it’s a significant predictor of strong and lasting relationships.
However, onboarding involves a lot of moving parts. Some of the manual processes include:
- Filling out forms
- Data collection and processing
- Reading and preparing documents and contracts
- Background checks
- Back-and-forth communication
The resulting jumble of tasks is an administrative burden that can slow down operations. Onboarding automation has several benefits, including:
- Greater transparency via analytics
- Improved inter-departmental coordination
- Lower costs
- Mitigation of risk and delays
- Increased compliance
While there are elements of onboarding that require a more personal touch, many steps can be automated. Some case studies show how HR departments have saved 2000 work hours per year and slashed onboarding times by over 80%.
#4. Report generation
Report generation is crucial for most firms. It helps management stay on top of trends within the business and make data-driven decisions. However, collecting all that data in one place can be very time-consuming.
One of the big challenges with reporting is frequency. Depending on the organization or purpose, reports may be needed daily, weekly, or monthly. In many scenarios, they’re required on demand. Gathering all the data from different sources can require a considerable amount of coordination, often drawing information from disparate and unstructured data sources.
RPA enables business professionals in HR, Finance, Marketing, or several other departments to assemble information from a wide array of sources quickly. Bots can be trained to collect data from emails, spreadsheets, databases, and a range of applications. Setting these tasks for specific intervals helps cut a lot of the legwork out of the reporting process.
Reporting is about much more than listing out facts and figures. While the statistics involved are clearly essential, their real value lies in generating valuable insights. In many ways, this makes them a classic RPA use case because the technology augments workers and helps them produce better work.
RPA enables an efficient division of labor that maximizes resources. Bots can quickly assemble data from a wide range of sources, while human workers can contextualize and understand the data. Companies can save hours each week or month, which quickly accumulates. It’s a perfect marriage of bots’ efficiency and human creativity.
#5. KYC and AML compliance
Know Your Customer (KYC) obligations affect lots of different companies. Banks and financial institutions, lenders, FinTechs, betting firms, brokers, and more, are obliged to collect and manage customer data and documents to help with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
Again, these obligations don’t add revenue to the order book. Yet failure to comply hurts businesses in the form of fines and reputational damage. Put simply, these tasks are ideal candidates for automation.
RPA will be able to handle operations such as:
- Reading and analyzing customer data and documents
- Validating customer information
- Compiling and screening customer data
- Running risk assessments
- Customer communication
City Union Bank (CUB), a leading South Indian bank, implemented automation to handle KYC and account opening.
- A 66% reduction in labor
- A 7x acceleration of account opening
- Greatly reduced error rates
Overall, these are excellent results that highlight how RPA helps businesses thrive.
#6. Payroll automation
Payroll is time-consuming for businesses of every size. Large enterprises have a considerable amount of staff to pay, while smaller firms don’t always have the budget for dedicated payroll staff.
There are several reasons why payroll processing is a great candidate for RPA. For starters, it involves high-volume, rule-based tasks. In fact, much of the work involved falls under the category of data processing. Manual payroll processing involves data collection, expense reporting, tax calculations, benefits, and other complexities.
The benefits of RPA for payroll automation include greater speed, accuracy, cost saving, and stricter adherence to compliance. A case study from a large Hospitality Group shows the potential of RPA for payroll: they cut their payroll processing costs by around 90%, saving $200k per year.
Recent tough economic conditions have forced business leaders to explore budget cuts. As ever, marketing departments are among the first departments to feel the chill of economic slowdown. Revenue generation teams are being told to “do more with less,” which is a challenging task in the current environment.
Customer acquisition costs (CAC) have spiraled out of control in recent years. Finding new business has become so competitive for some firms that it hampers overall profitability. RPA can help marketing teams by automating a lot of repetitive and time-intensive tasks involved with driving revenue.
In a marketing context, RPA will be able to handle tasks such as:
- Automating outreach campaigns over SMS, email, and social media
- PPC ad bidding on Google and Facebook Ads
- A/B testing for ads to ensure maximum effectiveness of ads
- Running SEO reports for keywords and campaign effectiveness
- Scoring and qualifying leads
In fact, automation is so effective for marketing that a lot of dedicated software has emerged in recent years to handle the job. One drawback is that some of these tools are expensive or require a cut of ad budget but without a cast-iron guarantee of results. RPA tools allow businesses to build their own versions of these machines that suit their objectives and software stacks.
#8. Credit checks
Credit checks are an essential part of due diligence. While protecting your business should be a first priority, many teams neglect to put in the work. As a result, they pay for it down the line.
There are several scenarios where businesses need to do credit checks. For example, when accepting new customers, suppliers, or employees. What’s more, credit checks are also part of overall compliance when taking on new vendors.
Automated credit checks benefit businesses in several ways. For starters, they’re quick, which vastly improves business decision-making times. But the benefits don’t stop there. Removing humans from the equation has other advantages, such as reducing potential bias against loanees and reducing associated labor costs.
RPA enables companies to log into work systems, collect data, run it against credit reporting bureaus, extract pertinent information, and serve a report in minutes. Teams can even build it into their workflows so the process is triggered without any human intervention.
#9. Price monitoring and comparisons
Businesses can compete with each other on several fronts. They can stand out against their rivals based on the quality of their goods or services or by offering next-level support or convenience. But you can’t get away from the fact that price is a huge factor for consumers.
In crowded marketplaces, pricing is a competitive advantage. In particular, dynamic pricing is an important tool in fast-moving and high-volume marketplaces. However, monitoring competitors to see how they are adjusting their offers involves a lot of manual work. What’s more, it’s a task that requires considerable attention.
Using RPA enables teams to trawl competitors’ websites and note changing prices. If the business objective is to stay below or with a certain range of rivals’ offers, teams can automate their prices to rise and fall with their competitors. It doesn’t even have to be about real-time changes; it can also be about ensuring that CRM systems are constantly up-to-date so that sales teams always have the best information to help them close deals.
Buyers can also use RPA to monitor the price of raw materials. By setting particular parameters, they can move to secure goods at favorable rates, saving untold sums.
#10. Shipment scheduling and tracking
While shipping and logistics have been major adopters of an overall trend toward digitalization, there is still a surprising amount of manual work in the scheduling and tracking elements of these businesses. With so many different suppliers, each with their own portals, coordinating shipping and monitoring the receipt of goods can take up a lot of time.
RPA can handle operations like:
- Finding the quickest or most cost-effective shipping lanes
- Processing orders and payments
- Communicating with warehouse or inventory management software
- Tracking deliveries and providing a full audit
- Communicating updates via communication platforms
- Raising invoices
Automation, whether software testing, RPA, or other, can assist retailers, eCommerce stores, or third-party delivery companies in implementing a more customer-centric approach to logistics. Reducing manual work hours spent on shipping inquiries can significantly reduce operating costs while ensuring customers get the service levels they demand.