The outsourcing landscape as we know it is changing. Chances are you’re well aware of many of these changes and disruptive forces: digitization, big data, analytics (particularly in areas like cybersecurity), and increased reliance on the cloud.
If you’re familiar with those changes, then you’ve also likely heard about the newest wave of technology inﬁltrating BPO and shared services. One type of technology entering the common BPO lexicon will become increasingly recognizable as it seeps into shared services: robotic process automation software, commonly known simply as “RPA.”
Automation is already pervasive in our lives—from tried-and-true mechanized assembly lines to the dawn of self-driving cars—but these invisible “software robots” present in RPA software are what’s happening now. It hits on all cylinders for businesses looking to reduce costs, decrease errors, improve efficiency, become more agile, and up their productivity game. Which is why customers want it.
Answering the million-dollar question: “What is it?”
Put simply, RPA software is a digital ape.
RPA software has often been referred to as “macros on steroids.” It records actions a human takes to complete a computer-based task, and then replicates those actions as many times as necessary and at a very rapid rate.
But, here comes the performance-enhancing part:
It can navigate different digital landscapes: RPA software adjusts itself to handle changing environments, movement in icons or buttons, differences in screen sizes, and a host of other variants.
It’s built for complexity: This type of automation software isn’t designed to complete “tasks;” it’s designed to complete processes—including complex ones that would require thousands of lines of script to automate.
It’s meant to be used at an enterprise level: RPA software is best used when it’s deployed throughout an enterprise and enabling multiple departments to focus on value-added work— not just on a single computer running a single macro.
It’s non-invasive: Instead of messing with custom programming or direct integration coding, RPA software integrates on the front-end for easy setup and smooth passage of data between systems.
It’s quick to implement and quick to scale: Users can be up and running, automating tasks in literally minutes with RPA software, and the ease-of-use lends itself to proliferative use throughout an organization by both business and IT users.
It plays nice with other systems: Users should be able to create automated tasks that utilize all of their line of business systems without a single hiccup. We’re talking 1998 legacy systems, ERP, cloud applications, Microsoft, their Spotify, everything.
It includes features that foster “fast work”: RPA software should at a minimum include features you need to create and run tasks quickly and effectively. Among these features should be wizards, drag-and-drop commands, a clean, friendly user interface, and integrations with everyday-use systems like Excel, SAP, Citrix, etc.