Lights and Technology
18 May 2023

Efficiency, Productivity, and Cost Reduction with RPA

How Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is transforming the way companies manage their business processes

By Rui Martins, DevOps & Automation, Associate Director at Noesis

In recent years, the business world has faced a new reality, with a greater need for digital infrastructure, new processes, and operations, as well as the remote work reassignment of many professionals. This situation has led many organizations to focus their efforts on increasing efficiency and reducing costs. In light of this, RPA has become an increasingly popular solution.

Increasingly used for executing routine and repetitive tasks, the technology enables teams to focus on more comprehensive and value-added activities, and it has found significant traction in the Portuguese market. According to the study "The Future of Work in Portugal: the Imperative of Reskilling," conducted by the Portuguese Business Confederation, 50% of the time spent on current work tasks can be automated using current technology, and this value could increase to 67% by 2030.

Globally, according to the World Economic Forum, 74% of companies already use some form of automation to drive efficiency and navigate the convergence of challenges we face, such as ongoing concerns about a global pandemic, increasing inflation, and increasingly complex regulations. However, the leaders among them adopt and implement digital workers (robots) in partnership with humans, creating new markets and fostering healthier and happier workplaces. The combined global impact value of AI and automation is projected to reach $15 trillion by 2030.

RPA is a technology that allows for the automation of repetitive and manual tasks, enabling companies to improve the efficiency and productivity of their business processes. It utilizes software robots programmed to mimic human actions, such as clicking buttons, entering data into forms, or extracting information from different systems. RPA is already widely used in companies of various sectors and sizes with the aim of enhancing the efficiency and productivity of business processes.

One of the main benefits is that it enables organizations to provide their teams with a greater capacity for work, ensuring the completion of more tasks with the same workforce and allowing them to do "more with the same." This is because RPA helps increase the speed of task execution by reducing the time spent on repetitive work. These are precisely the tasks that nobody wants to do, the most tedious ones that, due to their repetitive nature, can lead to human error. Consequently, workers can be allocated to more motivating and challenging tasks, providing them with greater visibility and real opportunities for growth within organizations.

Expansion across all segments

Software designed for this purpose has been used in various sectors, especially in the finance, accounting, human resources, and operations/IT departments, which often involve many repetitive processes that require considerable time for execution, making them perfect candidates for process automation. The most promising use cases involve tasks that require human effort, repetitive manual processes, such as financial processes for account reconciliation, invoice processing, or complaint management. Automating these tasks reduces errors, increases efficiency, and lowers operating costs.

For the coming years, a strong expansion of RPA is expected in companies across all market sectors. The trend is for RPA to become increasingly integrated with other technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning models, to expand the scope and coverage of processes suitable for automation, especially those involving unstructured data and automated decision-making, enabling data analysis. In addition to AI concepts, RPA is also integrated with software development platforms such as Outsystems, Salesforce, BPM tools, among others, allowing for accelerated software development using these technologies without the need to modify current solutions.

Another trend for RPA is greater integration between business areas and AI, aiming to create end-to-end processes, enabling software robots to perform more complex tasks that require interaction between different systems and data sources. This integration can lead to increased process automation and improvements in decision-making, enhancing the efficiency and productivity of business processes.


Processes need to be well-defined

It is important to emphasize, however, that technology should not be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution for all business problems. It is crucial to carefully evaluate the processes that will be automated and ensure that RPA is properly integrated with other technologies and existing business processes.

Therefore, it is essential for business processes to be well-defined before making any decisions towards automation. This is a step that requires mature processes because automating processes to gain efficiency is different from automating inefficient processes. To avoid such problems, it is recommended to take a step back and conduct an assessment.

In other words, companies need to focus on improving their processes to make them more efficient before implementing any type of automation. This may involve making initial process improvements, identifying inefficient processes that can be enhanced before they are automated. The more effective the process to be automated, the better the outcome will be, and the lower the costs will be for future maintenance, whether they are evolutionary, corrective, or preventive, which are necessary to ensure that the solutions bring actual effectiveness.

Equally important is ensuring that work teams are trained and prepared to work with software robots and understand how technology can be used to improve their work. Automation should not be seen as a way to replace people, but as an effort to improve work quality and employee engagement.

In conclusion, RPA has the potential to transform how companies manage their business processes, allowing teams to focus on more strategic and higher-value tasks. In addition to reducing human error and increasing efficiency, making processes faster and more precise, robotic process automation can reduce operational costs, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance competitiveness in the market.

Published in MIT Technology Review