19 RPA use cases to save your team from boring work

19 RPA use cases to save your team from boring work

We explained Robotic Process Automation before. RPA has a fancy name and a growing number of providers however few people I have spoken to could pinpoint exact areas where RPA can be applied. Decided to compile a list of all RPA use cases/application areas we have seen so far:

Common business processes in

1- Quote-to-cash

Every business needs to sell to survive. issues in the operations side of selling can result in customer complaints or selling at reduced prices due to clerical errors.

Automating complete sales operations process eliminates these errors and provides fast service to your customers. Since automation processes sales faster than manual processes, customers will receive invoices earlier, leading to earlier payments and improved cash flow.

2- Procure-to-pay

Since procure-to-pay process involves extracting invoice and payment data from multiple systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), banks, vendors, logistics companies and since not all these systems provide easy integration methods they generally involve some form of manual labor. RPA bots can fill integration gaps. Since they work on the front-end, they  can provide an easy way to automate integrations.

With a fully automated procure-to-pay, you can ensure that procurement best practices are followed and there’s a single source of truth for all transactions.

3- Claims processing

Claims processing is at the heart of every insurance company. Since customers make claims at a time of misfortune for them, customer experience and speed are critical in claims processing. There are numerous factors that create issues during claims processing such as

  • Manual/inconsistent processing: Claims processing often involves manual analyses completed by outsourced personnel.
  • Input data of varying formats: Customers send in data with various formats
  • Changing regulation: No insurance company has the luxury of not accommodating to changes in regulation in a timely manner. This requires constant staff training and process update.

These lead to human biases in claims processing which can lead to losses, customer dissatisfaction and lack of visibility in a crucial process.

RPA bots can deal with all these issues. Essentially, bots take in unstructured data in forms, extract structured data and process claims based on pre-defined rules. This approach takes care of all major issues with manual claims processing:

  • Claim verification can be automated with rules
  • Bots can deal with various data formats to extract relevant data
  • Rules can be changed with regulatory changes, without any need for training, immediately ensuring compliance.

Activities in support functions

Customer Service

Customer contact centers rely on a number of different systems provided by a variety of vendors. Level 1 contact desks mostly process a high volume of simple repetitive tasks, an ideal match for RPA.

A customer rep needs to understand the customer’s intent, perform the necessary actions by switching between different systems and applications and inform the customer. This has several disadvantages, customer needs to wait while the rep is busy dealing with data, sometimes asking for information that had been asked before. This reduces customer satisfaction and increases call duration. It’s one of the rare examples of a company wasting its resources while creating dissatisfaction for its customers.

The solution requires identify frequent customer queries, examine customer rep actions in response to these queries and build RPA solutions to facilitate those actions. There can be a variety of solutions:

  • Customer rep can launch a bot whenever several pieces of data need to be synchronized across systems. With the press of a button, the bot completes all actions in miliseconds. This is a simple RPA implementation that can be programmed within hours and create value quickly.
  • A dashboard can be created for common queries. Customer rep will fill the necessary data to resolve the issues and bots will use that data in several systems to complete the transaction. Such dashboards will require more effort but still are feasible to create within weeks for most common actions.

These are the typical use cases where such automation solutions can be employed:

Automating frequent tasks

4- Loading a detailed customer profile customer including her previous interactions with support

5- Getting detailed billing data. Whenever you call customer service regarding your most recent payment, you need to stay on the line for a minute or two while the customer service rep scrambles to pull your record and understand it. With an RPA bot programmed to retrieve that data, your payment data can be invoked in seconds with a single click from the rep.

6- Updating user preferences and other user information

7- Resolving simple but common customer issues. For example, resetting a broadband customer’s connection to the server can fix some simple connection issues. This can be done without switching screens with a simple RPA bot.

8- Automating multi-step complex tasks that require little decision making

Some legacy systems force customer service reps to complete numerous steps to complete some common tasks. If these steps do not require human judgement, they can easily be automated, saving significant time.

L1 Tech support

Without increasing automation capabilities, IT support teams can find themselves overwhelmed with simple yet time consuming queries. This not only results in slow service but also demotivates most support personnel who do not enjoy repetitive tasks that do not challenge them intellectually.

Bots can automate various complex system administration tasks around IT applications and infrastructure, including taks such as:

9- Regular diagnostics: It’s painful to hear the same problem from multiple people. And that’s exactly what happens when a system has a catastrophic failure. As teams work to resolve the problem, they also need to deal with calls of colleagues asking when the system would be up. Regular diagnostic work by bots puts tech support teams one step ahead of all other teams and lets them respond to possible failures before they can be noticed by regular users. This improves both user satisfaction and saves support personnel from wasting time on calls about problems they already know about.

10- Regular testing

11- Fault remediation

Technology

12- Opening up internal tools to customers or employees

Almost all customer service or tech support departments have internal tools with advanced functionality. They rely on service reps to use those tools and serve internal or external customers. Especially if those tools are in legacy systems, it is difficult to expose them directly to customers or employees without training. However RPA offers a solution.

Frequency of usage of most functionality follows the pareto principle. A few functionality are quite commonly used while the rest are almost never used. After identifying the popular functionalities of an internal tool, it is possible to write simple web interfaces that complete those functionalities with the help of bots. This saves users time while reducing burden of support teams.

HR

13- Hiring& firing

Especially for growing or shrinking firms hiring and firing brings significant burden on HR and other support functions like IT, security, facilities management. While it is costly to build a solution that encompasses all these functions and completes the necessary tasks for new or leaving employees, RPA bots can be deployed relatively fast and effectively. Automating part of the process and measuring its progress on the RPA bot management module brings speed and transparency to the whole process.

14- Payroll management

Payroll  function requires repetitive processing of payroll taking into myriad regulations and company rules. While modern payroll software provides a good solution for this process, some companies rely too much on legacy systems to be able to make the switch to a modern payroll software. They can rely on bots to increase automation in the payroll management process.

15- Absence management

Your personnel will be notoriously bad at recording their absences and vacations. Personnel can be genuinely confused about or unaware of the absence management system. Second, they will not want to learn or remember how to use the system because once they do that, they will be required to fill in all their absences and no one wants that.

The problem is that while it is not ethical to hide someone’s absences, it is also not a major crime like embezzlement. It is something that can easily be forgotten by the absentee, therefore easily forgiven.

Easiest solution: Let people decide their vacations as long as they get their work done. It’s called unlimited vacation policy and could increase autonomy of your team while saving them a lot of bureaucratic hassle.

Slighly harder solution: Set up a simple RPA bot to cross check absentee reports against time logged in the corporate network and let your teams fill in the absences they had. You could also use another simple bot to simplify filling in absence information so your personnel does not forget to notify the system when they have an absence.

Other activities common to many business functions

We listed some major areas of RPA applications but there are other use cases as well. RPA provides your teams a Swiss Army knife of automation and they should be using it as automation opportunities arise. Some other areas where RPA has been used are:

16- Data migration and entry

Legacy systems still perform critical functions at companies. For example legacy billing systems need to interface with other systems and such systems may not have the capability to pull relevant data from APIs. In such cases, employees manually migrate data using formats like CSV. RPA can prevent such manual labor and potential clerical errors it brings.

Furthermore such systems that keep data up to data enable improved analysis and decision making. We are living in a day when even marketing has 5000 applications to choose from. RPA can help integrate applications and allow for more holistic analyses.

17- Periodic report preparation and dissemination

Every business requires regular reports to inform managers and ensure team are aware of their progress. Preparing such reports and sending them over every week or month is not labor intensive but it distracts employees. RPA solutions can easily auto-generate reports, analyze their contents and based on the contents, email them to relevant stakeholders.

For example, a report of a telecom operator showing areas with connectivity issues has different recipients based on its severity. CTO should be copied in reports with criticial issues and head of network should be copied in reports with major issues. RPA bots can analyze reports to modify recipients according to provided criteria.

18- Updating inventory records

19- Generating mass emails

Mass emails relying on data from multiple systems are painful to produce manually. Especially if you are sending them frequently, consider automating the process.

We also listed the benefits you can reap from RPA. And if you are ready to start automating with RPA, we can help you choose the right vendor.

We relied on a few reports as well as our experience while compiling this list. These reports were helpful: Thoughtonomy’s 6 real world RPA use cases.

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