As an emerging player in the market, RPA is a technology that many businesses are just starting to wrap their heads around.
To help get you thinking about where RPA might help solve problems in your business, below is a list of 20 common enterprise use cases that are working particularly well with RPA across various industries. These are split across the domains of Finance, HR, Customer Experience, and Supply Chain & Logistics, but RPA can span most domains across a business and even act as an integration tool when needed.
Check out the 20 cases below, keeping in mind that your individual business operations may present further opportunities.
HR Use Cases
RPA can prove an invaluable tool in the Human Resources space, reducing the manual paperwork for staff allowing them to focus on the ‘human’ part of HR. Heavily regulated and time consuming processes make this space an ideal candidate in organisations where HR staff are particularly time poor, or where there is a high volume of HR tasks.
1. Resume scanning
Though many companies already use more complex algorithms to sort through large numbers of job applications, this can also be achieved with RPA. An RPA bot can scan through submitted files and email correspondence looking for key words and requirements, then compile the shortlisted candidates for human review. RPA can then also send automated responses on the application outcome to all applicants – meaning even rejects get a response from your company – all in a much faster time frame than with manual effort. This means HR staff spend less time reading unsuitable applicants’ resumes, and more time assessing relevant candidates.
2. Background Verification
RPA can also automate essential background checks on prospective employees, by accessing various data sources like criminal records, driving records, credit reports, company websites, and social media profiles. A bot can first determine whether the prospective employee has any criminal history, and also confirm whether the information provided by the candidate (on past companies, references etc.) matches information available online.
3. Onboarding New Employees
Standard and repeatable onboarding tasks can be automated with RPA, leading to a much faster onboarding process and allowing the new employee to work productively sooner. Many of these include setting up digital access for the new employee – creating usernames and passwords and changing access settings to allow the new employee to access the necessary systems, databases and files. This can work similarly when an employee leaves the business, automating the removal of access to ensure security and compliance.
Another potential area for utilising attended RPA is as part of an employee’s initial training and learning of new systems. An attended robot could be used to prompt the user to perform tasks or provide guidance which would reduce the impact on having existing team members answer questions or provide this guidance.
4. Expense Report Automation
Instead of needing managers or HR staff to manually review expense reports and remuneration claims, an RPA bot can verify them against a set of rules or policies. Where reports are inconsistent with policy, the bot can flag this for manual review or reject the application then alert the employee of the status of their request for payment. A bot running this process can lead to fewer errors in the reporting, costs saved and increased compliance.
Supply Chain & Logistics Use Cases
Supply chain and logistics is an area that naturally deals with a large number of different contacts, companies, and systems. This can be an ideal environment for RPA, particularly as a data gathering/integration tool where backend data integration is not possible or easy across different companies’ systems.
5. Monitor and Manage Inventory
Inventory management can be automated with RPA to help reduce the likelihood of ‘out of stock’ or late/missed customer orders, by ensuring a steady and consistent stream of inventory. A bot can monitor inventory levels over time and, (if combined with AI/reporting tools) learn the patterns and trends across different times of the year or seasons to ensure optimal levels. The bot could be used to automatically submit purchase orders when supply drops below a defined level, and inform the required people within the business when this occurs.
6. Predictive Maintenance
RPA can automatically track and schedule maintenance processes on equipment over time and also notify the affected customers and/or employees when disruption is likely to occur. This can be set based on historical data or known checkpoints for maintenance and repair. Automating this process reduces the chance of maintenance milestones being forgotten, thus reducing the likelihood and severity of disruptions to service. This can also save the organisation in repair costs, where an issue might otherwise be left too long unattended or forgotten about.
7. Consolidate Order Information
RPA bots can be a key player in consolidating information across a number of systems and companies. A bot can monitor orders/sales and update details automatically across various systems, including multiple logistics partners such as air and road freight and shipping. This ensures data is entered correctly across the multiple systems, but the bot can also flag any inconsistencies that do appear, reducing the chance of error and building more reliable data for future decisions. This also reduces the time spent by employees manually updating systems/filling out invoices by improving the integration capabilities and data flow between partners’ systems.
8. Informing Customers
RPA can be particularly useful as a communication tool with customers. Delays, cancellations and other issues are often inevitable, but customers always expect to be informed on the status of their orders. RPA bots can send notifications to customers when there are delays or cancellations, or fetch progress information for them when requested (often via a web portal). This kind of real-time data can be invaluable for customer service and satisfaction, reducing the impact of negative events in service delivery and increasing customer loyalty.
Customer Service/Experience Use Cases
While many areas of customer service rely absolutely on a human touch, implementing RPA for repetitive tasks can free time for company representatives to solve customer problems and build a great experience.
9. Customer Service Request Data Management
An RPA bot can receive customer requests from almost any digital channel (email, chat, social media, forms etc.) and search for key terms and sentiment information, then upload that data to relevant systems and inform the correct staff of the request. A bot can also flag any duplicate requests from individual customers to reduce the double handling of service requests and thereby reduce response time, as well as identifying any major or ongoing issues for customers.
10. Expiring Contract/Service Notification
As above, RPA can be a great tool to keep customers informed regarding service updates, which is particularly important in the customer service and customer experience area. Bots can keep track of renewal or reorder dates for contracts and send automated notifications to customers when they are about to expire. This reduces the chance of gaps in a customer’s service because they forgot to renew, thus reducing potential loss of revenue and increasing customer satisfaction.
11. Call Centre Customer ID Verification
Access to all of a customer’s information in one place can be invaluable for call centre staff when trying to solve problems over the phone. An attended RPA bot can, when prompted, collate all of a customer’s (actual and potential) account details onto one screen, verifying their identity and giving staff a more complete view of that customer’s interactions with the company. This also prevents customers needing to repeat information to multiple staff across the business.
12. Enabling Chatbots
AI powered chatbots can be a very effective customer service tool, and RPA can work as a critical enabler for these. RPA can act as the ‘arms and legs’ of the chatbot, allowing it to not only interact with customers, but fetch and enter data when needed and enact requests immediately. An example might be a customer making an insurance claim via an AI-powered chatbot, with the invoice then created and sent to the right channels by RPA.
Finance Use Cases
The high levels of accuracy needed in the finance domain, as well as the repetitiveness of many of its processes make this an ideal area for RPA. Bots can exponentially reduce errors, process reports and numbers more efficiently, and help integrate the many different systems that input data to the finance domain.
13. Invoice Generation and Delivery
For standard invoices, bots can fill a template with information gathered from multiple sources, and/or review completed invoices for consistency with other records before sending them to the relevant clients/employees/other workflows. Bots can be prompted to do this on command or by a schedule, ensuring deadlines are never missed and the right people receive the right invoices, free of error.
14. Automated Reporting
The many other kinds of reports generated by the finance team can either be completely filled out (for very structured, stable reports) or partially completed by RPA bots. Examples include the bots filling out prepared templates for cash flow or liability statements with information from bank statements and invoices. This reduces manual paperwork for staff as well as the rate of error, and allows reports to be generated faster.
15. Dunning Letter Creation and Transmission
Bots can monitor the due dates for certain payments, flagging a customer when their payment is overdue. With a prepared template, bots can then check if a dunning letter has already been sent, generate a dunning letter, and attach it to an email sent to the customer to remind them. This process promotes proactive communication with consumers over late payments, improving the likelihood of the problem getting fixed sooner.
16. Account Creation
Banks open new customer accounts very frequently, and this process can also be highly repetitive. RPA can bring more efficiency and security to this process by automating the verification of customer details like identity, credit scores, and general compliance against information available in the banks systems, other institutions and public records. RPA bots can verify these details, open the account, and send all the introductory information to the customer automatically.
Of course RPA can also be a beneficial tool to those people who deploy it – the IT team. Nowhere are processes more automatable than in the world of computers, where bots can help to manage less complex, repetitive administrative tasks for IT infrastructure and applications.
17. Security and Compliance in Development
IT staff with experience in the DevOps space will already know that automation can greatly improve security and compliance, particularly for fast-moving projects with larger teams. RPA can act as a crucial communication tool for handovers across the software development process, interlinking with other automation tools for CI/CD, reminding staff of critical checkpoints, or facilitating approvals regarding deployment to various environments.
18. Routine Backups and Updates
Routine data backups and system updates are relatively repetitive and predictable, making them ideal for RPA. Bots can work to a predetermined schedule, using remote access and pre-set logins to back up servers and databases, and send new updates into deployment based on various triggers. RPA can also be used to simply automate the notification process to ensure the right people are informed of any backup or update problems when they need to be, relieving staff of the need to monitor processes.
19. Password Resets
In the HR section above, we discussed how RPA can help assign new employees their access and login credentials. The same process can be used for existing employees to reset passwords and logins when they are forgotten, or when an enforced password reset occurs.
Traditional RPA tools have their roots in automated UI testing and while there are other tools which continue to target testing alone, there is no reason why RPA cannot be used to perform elements of automated and regression testing (both UI and non-UI). RPA could also be used to perform the creation of test data to facilitate testing.