Today’s businesses are exposed to many possibilities. One of the most exciting topics, automation, has emerged as one of the most talked-about in 2021. Rather than spending 85% of their time solving repetitive tasks, it is time for businesses to realize how close they are to accelerate productivity up to 300% without burdening their employees unnecessarily.
Workflow Automation vs. RPA
Automation of business processes is essential to achieving this objective. Workflow Automation and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are two important tools for automating business processes. The title of this post does not really mean one is better than the other. People misconceive both terms as two things that businesses should pick over each other. In fact, both Workflow Automation and Robotic Process Automation are two interchangeable tools. They are, however, different process automation tools that automate different aspects of business processes.
What is Workflow Automation?
Workflow Automation refers to the design, execution, and automation of processes using technology to streamline and connect tasks. Rather than automating the individual components of a task, Workflow Automation automates the flow of tasks across work activities. The processes are based on workflow rules where human tasks, data, or files are connected between people or systems based on predefined rules. A survey of eleven countries polled showed that excessive (and unnecessary) administrative tasks cost a whopping S$3.95 trillion a year. Cost-saving alone is more than a good reason to start some type of automation in your company.
Use case example: automating employee onboarding
Let’s see how automated workflows can improve the employee onboarding process:
Onboarding new employees involve contracts, training, introductions, office supplies, etc. which is a time-consuming process. However, these tasks can be automated to speed up the process.
We found a tool called “Pipefy” that helped the HR team at James Delivery to automate the hiring and onboarding process. The COVID-19 pandemic caused an increased demand for delivered products. The company grew quickly, and the HR team was overwhelmed with documentation. By introducing workflow automation, the HR team streamlined the recruiting and onboarding processes, from data entry to communication.
Ways workflow automation can help with employee onboarding:
- Provide all stakeholders visibility into the process when candidates’ data is entered into the database.
- Send out important documents to the new hires before their start date.
- Assign tasks and approvals to automatically trigger the next step in the onboarding process during the employee’s first days and weeks.
- Send hiring managers automatic notifications when candidates move to the next stage in the process, minimizing questions to HR.
What is RPA?
Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is not a walking, talking, humanoid robot that you see in movies. RPA is computer software that can help you do tasks on your computer and it works with almost any system. To summarise, RPA mimics your mouse clicks and keyboard strokes to complete business processes. Users can build bots using RPA automation by analyzing human behavior on I.T. applications. Show the bots what to do, and leave them to it.
RPA was originally introduced for large companies where they handle a lot of data and have large back-office operations. Today, RPA is seen in organizations around the world and is used to do data processing tasks. The bot must follow certain rules before it completes a task
The key distinction between RPA and Workflow Automation is that Workflow Automation focuses on automating the flow of work activities through the process. On the other hand, RPA focuses on automating the actual individual work activities. Work practices that are heavily reliant on rules and regulations are ideal candidates for RPA. However, RPA paired with cognitive technology (a fancy term for AI) is getting more popular and successfully improving job activities.
For example, the task of an Account Specialist creating a Customer Account is a strong rules-based/procedural-oriented job practice and is an ideal candidate for RPA. Another example to get a Financial Analyst to analyze customer credit traditionally tends to rely heavily on the analyst’s experience and discretion. The rules-based part of the analysis is unquestionably RPA-worthy. As a result, only a subset (possibly a small portion) of the job requires the actual knowledge and judgment of an experienced financial analyst.
Synergizing RPA and Workflow Automation
If you have a good Workflow Automation system, good for you. Automated workflows enhance collaboration to avoid communication breakdowns, which often lead to delays, errors, and employee turnover. It also makes it possible for employees to manage their work with little supervision as automated workflows create a clear system of accountability. However, if combined with RPA, you will experience a more efficient workflow, where time-consuming tasks like data entry, invoice processing, data extraction, would be done in a couple of minutes by robots (only a fifth of the time spent by humans). RPA enables companies to free employees from repetitive tasks, so they can focus on strategic work rather than the underlying process that supports the business outcome. Implementation of RPA reduces the risk of human error and ensures accuracy.
At Gleematic, it is more than just an RPA
We equip enterprises with more power and intelligence, which we call Cognitive Automation. Cognitive automation combines Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (A.I). Cognitive automation can do more than just automation but also complex decision-making, which requires human judgment, e.g. predictive analysis. By leveraging Artificial Intelligence technologies, cognitive automation extends and improves the range of actions beyond those that are automated with RPA. Cognitive automation can handle semi-structured and unstructured data inputs and has the ability to “learn” to improve itself. It can also figure out complex situations and make predictions, which is something not possible with RPA.
Gleematic introduces Cognitive Automation (RPA & A.I.) to customers in an elegant and design-driven manner and extends workflow automation to every member of the enterprise. Gleematic is flexible and compatible with existing systems in your computer, including the Workflow Automation system that you employ. Unlike legacy RPA providers, Gleematic allows enterprise users to build “botflows” in hours or days, incorporate bot activities into workflows, and achieve value quicker.
Try a free trial of Gleematic to see how you can add much more value to your enterprise environment.