RPA offers significant opportunities to improve business process performance. This has been proven in various business process areas in thousands of organisations (see, for example, Davison, Magana, Holbrook, 2018). The check of vendor invoices, handling of routine insurance claims, or the processing of loan applications are just a few examples where RPA has been used successfully. In general, non-value-added working steps, such as entering data from one application into another or extracting and re-entering spreadsheets, are automated, freeing up related human workforce for higher qualified activities, leading to cost reductions and shorter cycle times. These effects are combined with other benefits like the reduction or even elimination of errors entering data, enforcing of compliance rules, or easily scaling data processing capacity “on demand”.
A bank, for example, reduced the onboarding time from 16 days to 9 minutes. A marketing services company achieved 97% accuracy of product categorisation and reduced manual effort by up to 80% for selected processes. An international software company reduced 67% of their headcount in their invoice processing through RPA while achieving 20% less help desk inquiries through more accurate results (Modi, K, Burnett, 2017).
RPA can also add value in the technical field of software integration. Without the availability of RPA, in a heterogeneous systems environment, applications are either connected by system interfaces or by humans. The tools effectively mirror the human activity and can read the data produced by one application and enter it into another one, achieving an integration effect without developing costly interfaces or changing existing software. This leads to efficiency effects in the information technology department and provides business users the required integration to enhance process performance.
In the meantime, RPA solutions are offered by a continuously growing number of vendors. The Gartner Group, for example, mentions 15 vendors in their RPA market guide (Tornbohm, 2016) or HFS examines in a recent research report 10 selected vendors (Fersht, Gupta, 2018). RPA software is often offered at an aggressive price, basic entrance versions even for free. Also, implementation costs are relatively inexpensive.
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