Typical Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Use Cases

There are specific use cases that are best for RPA. It is best to stick to processes that are well defined and involves a lot of manual effort as you start out on your automation initiative.

Choosing the wrong Process has been one of the major reasons for failed Automation initiatives. We now have a database of processes that are fit for RPA. It is advisable to stick to the proven RPA processes.

Here are a few use cases from the database categorized by business function.

Finance and Accounting

RPA can fully automate 42% of the F&A tasks as per a McKinsey study. Note that it says “fully” automate these tasks. Another 19% of the tasks can be mostly automated as per the same study.

  • Invoice processing: Capture invoice data from scanned invoices or electronic files and process the same in ERP systems. The invoice processing time can be reduced by unto 60 to 80 %.
  • Payment matching & processing: Bank lockbox payments received from various sources are matched against open invoices. These are then processed in the ERP system and remittance receipts generated.
  • Automate journal entries: RPA can process email, perform compliance checks and process the Journal entries in ERP (SAP, Oracle, etc.), and notify the requestor.
  • Account reconciliations: RPA can automate the download of sub-account balances, perform validations and create balancing journal entries to handle discrepancies
  • 3-way matching: Matching of invoices to purchase orders (PO) and goods received notes (GRN) can be automated with RPA. This ensures accurate payment and validates different parts of the supply chain.
  • Automate workflow and approvals: RPA can be configured for rules-based auto approval in the AP system. Any exceptions are raised to the appropriate person for manual approvals.
  • Financial planning and analysis: Prepare forecasts automatically using historical and market data, Load pre-populated balances into the planning system, Create variance reports
  • Regulatory reporting: Capture and cleanse data, generate the regulatory reports automatically. Create complex annual reports to the extent possible.

Read more about RPA in Finance and Accounting here. 

Human Resources

More than 50% of standard HR processes can be automated as per Deloitte. When the survey was done with Shared service leaders, about 74% of them were planning to investigate RPA.

  • Employee Onboarding:  HR teams can assimilate new employees into the organization faster and better with RPA. You can automate most of the onboarding tasks including receiving information and paperwork from new hires, setting up access to systems and notifying concerned.
  • Employee Offboarding: Just as Onboarding, all the tasks to offboard an employee such as removing access to systems, notifying people concerned and creating standard paperwork can be automated.
  • Employee data management: RPA can be used to perform many of the Employee data administration tasks. This includes adding and updating data on current and past employees, contractors, interns, etc.
  • Recruitment Management: RPA can be used for most repetitive recruitment tasks such as scouring websites for candidates and screening the resumes received. RPA systems can work 24 x 7 to source, screen and organize right candidates for you.
  • Compensation Management: RPA can be used to input compensation data for employees into the Talent Management System.
  • Time record validation: Following up on missing timesheets, validate time booked and notify any discrepancies.
  • Earnings and Deductions: Initiate batch creation and imports into the payroll system, complete the standard validations.
  • Payroll payments: With RPA, the bot automatically extracts data from an input source such as an MS Excel file or an email and enter the Payroll payment data into the banking application.
  • Automating process hand-offs: Typical approaches to handing work between functions and people can be inefficient, time-consuming and error-prone. RPA can link both automated and manual HR tasks into an end-to-end workflow

Customer Service

RPA can be used to automate many of the common tasks at your support desk. As we saw in a previous post, attended automation is useful for the Service desk agents. So, the tasks can be initiated by a rep through the click of a mouse. They can also invoke unattended automation through a web portal, via email or SMS.

  • Customer Management: Agents can quickly add or update customer records with RPA. They can also update the details on other systems with a mouse click.
  • Update CRM: RPA can automate the process of sending the Sales & Order information from ERP to CRM and notify the salesperson
  • Access Management: RPA can be used to validate identity, unlock accounts, reset password credentials and pass it back to users.
  • User Administration: RPA can create new accounts across multiple systems and applications.
  • Incident/Change Management: RPA can raise incidents/change requests by creating and/or updating tickets. These tickets can be created from email or can also be auto-created with inputs from monitoring systems.
  • Progress Chasing: RPA can follow up on incidents with users and report the progress on tickets to concerned.
  • Update or Close Tickets: RPA can close tickets after follow-up if the users indicate the incident has been resolved or if there is no response after repeated follow-up.
  • External and internal interfaces: RPA can be used to drive actions in external systems (supplier, partner or customer) or even internal systems with a non-disruptive integration.

Information Technology

Infrastructure support in IT is one of the areas that can be automated extensively with RPA and other technologies. IT can also use both unattended and attended automation to automate manual tasks.

  • Database Administration: Repetitive tasks such as database validation, extending tablespaces, clearing database locks, etc.
  • System Administration: Sysadmin activities including scheduled tasks and intervention using management tools
  • Backup Management: Monitor backup jobs, run diagnostics, restart jobs or alert support team
  • Patch Management: Check the patch levels, Schedule, execute and validate patching using tools and scripts.
  • Daily Checks. Automate all manual system and application checks. Eg. SAP ERP daily checks.
  • Provisioning: Perform server, storage, and network provisioning actions.
  • Network Support: Monitor and manage LAN, WAN devices, load balancers, firewalls, and other network technologies
  • Test Automation. RPA can be used to automate manual testing efforts, user acceptance testing as well as load testing.

These are some use case examples that work well with RPA.

I have a use-case grid that I am updating regularly with RPA use cases that I come across. I am also adding details for each of those use cases one by one – they have links (in blue) that you can click on and view.

Automate your CRM updates

Updating CRM like Salesforce is one of the recurring activities performed by the Sales operations team.

RPA can Automate most of the repetitive tasks of maintaining your CRM and also run an error check with other applications like an ERP.

  • Automate the process of registering new customer and new deal wins
  • Automate the process of sending the Sales & Order information from ERP to CRM and notify the salesperson
  • Automate the data entry of Customer quotes, Order tracking, Shipment tracking into CRM.
Here is a demo. Once a new deal is won, the Sales operations team or the Sales rep has to close the deal in CRM and also update the ERP with the new customer.  This is a demo of updating Salesforce when a win is to be registered for a new client.

Update system exchange rates automatically

Do you have a need to constantly go to a website, check for exchange rate and update your internal systems?

For example, One of our banking clients wanted to monitor the exchange rates for different currencies periodically and update their ERP. Client employees were periodically going to the website and copy-pasting the updated exchange rate to their internal system.

RPA can automatically monitor most of these exchange rate data streams on the web and update your systems. They notify people if there are any exceptions to take any action as required.

Here is a quick demo of Digital assistant updating daily Currency rates in a spreadsheet. The data can be entered into any application like an ERP.

 

Automate your Customer Rewards & Gifts

With Robotic Process Automation, you can automatically verify reward points, purchase and ship rewards based on your rewards system. It can also monitor special days like Anniversaries and send out gifts.

This is usually done by a Customer loyalty team that monitors the redemption requests and may also monitor for anniversaries. The team members then purchase the rewards and gifts and have them shipped to the customer.

With a digital assistant monitoring and sending out the appropriate gifts to respective customers, the team can focus on managing the customer relationships.

Here is a demo from Kofax of the automation.

Automate your payroll payment

Robotic Process Automation is perfect for payroll payments.

A leading international bank that adopted RPA in payroll payments with great results. They reduced manual errors by 84 percent, in addition to improving productivity by 70 percent.

This is a typical result since this is a recurring and heavily rule-based process. It can lead to multiple manual data entry errors. The usual errors include incorrect Amount values or incorrect Beneficiary details.

With RPA, the bot automatically extracts data from an input source such as an MS Excel file or an email and enters the same into the banking application

Automating payroll allows businesses and their accountants to spend less time on back-office operations. They now have more time building their businesses or providing better financial analysis.

Watch how a bot can log in into your bank and schedule the payments as per your payroll software or file.

Robotic Process Automation Use Case Grid

A list of real-world RPA use cases by function.

Click on the use cases with links (in blue) for details of the use case. More use case details will be added and linked soon. The grid itself will also be updated with new use cases and functions.

If you like a summary of typical RPA use cases, I have a list here. 

 

100 RPA Automation ideas

Looking for RPA Automation ideas?

Here are 100 Automation opportunities from Kofax. There are 10 example use cases across 10 business units for inspiration.

HR: Automate your Employee onboarding

Imagine you are a human resources (HR) employee at a large enterprise. As an HR person, you like to bring in the best possible people into your growing organization. You like to be able to talk to the new hires and ensure they have everything they need day one and ensure they are comfortable in their new job.

The problem is that there is too much of administrative work that you need to take care of and with so many new employees joining, it is difficult to give the new hire the personal attention you like to give them. One of the administrative tasks is to Onboard new employees – the process of assimilating new employees into your organization. Here is an example of an Onboarding process which takes more than 2.5 hours:

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), you can dramatically compress the onboarding processes. This helps you to get back to focusing on what’s most important for you and your company. It helps reduce the time taken for key Onboarding activities by more than 80% (2.5 hours to 3 minutes in this case) while increasing the accuracy of data entry.

Here is a quick demo of the process being performed with RPA courtesy EY. The bot takes new joiner information from emails and adds them to Peoplesoft. It also emails other groups like Payroll, Facilities etc. to set up the new employee.

Here is a demo of Washington bot – US federal government’s first digital employee creating HR cases.

This process can be taken one step further. RPA can also automatically set up the required Network access, Application accounts and Licenses for the new employee.

Accounts Payable: Automate your 3-way matching with RPA – Demo

AP 3-way matching

If you are in finance or accounting then you are more than likely familiar with the process of 3 way matching of invoices to purchase orders (PO) and goods received notes (GRN).

AP 3-way matching

Accounts Payable(AP) team matches the quantities, prices, and terms to what was ordered (with PO), to the goods received (via GRN) to what is being charged (Invoice). This is usually done before paying any invoice.

It is a method of ensuring accurate payment and validating different parts of the supply chain. The current process that has evolved over the years is very manual, paper-based and leads to delays and human errors.

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), this three-way matching can be automated removing this tedious work for the AP professionals. Here is a quick demo.

This automation at a manufacturer uses Automation Anywhere RPA tool. The tool automates the three-way matching using the QAD ERP.

Accounts Payable: Automate your Invoice Processing with RPA – Demo

Accounts Payable (AP) professionals in most organizations process invoice manually. They receive the invoices in their Email inbox, review the same and enter the data into an invoice processing system.

This repetitive and time-consuming process is usually inefficient and takes up valuable time. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can automate most parts of this invoice processing.

Here are a few demos with different RPA tools.

This first demo uses Uipath to take invoices from pre-designated folders and enters the same in SAP.

I hope this gives you a sense of how RPA can automate this Accounts Payable process in Finance.