Let us begin with some definitions. RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation, which can be a bit misleading because when we say “robotic,” we think of robots. But RPA is not about robots at all. It is, rather, about process automation software… on steroids. Allow me to explain.

RPA refers to the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities for the purpose of handling high-volume, repeatable tasks that were previously executed manually. In other words, these are tasks that in the past, were performed manually by humans.

What types of tasks can be handled with RPA software?

Since RPA software incorporates AI and ML capabilities, it can handle tasks such as queries and calculations, as well as the maintenance of records and transactions. These software robots, known as bots, can mimic human behaviors. They can log into applications, enter data, perform calculations, complete their assigned tasks, and then proceed to log themselves out.

Digging a little deeper, we find that there are three broad categories of RPA bots that can be deployed – probots, knowbots, and chatbots. Let us now briefly define those terms:

  • Robots are bots that follow simple, repeatable rules in order to process data.
  • Knowbots search the internet to gather knowledge and store user-specified information.
  • Chatbotsact as virtual agents that can respond in real-time to customer queries.

What sets RPA apart from other automation tools?

RPA software is not an integral part of a company’s IT infrastructure. It sits on top of that infrastructure instead. This enables an organization to quickly and efficiently implement RPA technology without making any changes to the existing infrastructure and systems. What also distinguishes RPA from traditional modes of IT automation is the RPA software’s ability to be aware of and adaptable to changing circumstances, exceptions, and situations.

Once the bots have been trained to capture and interpret the actions of specific processes within existing applications, they can then manipulate and massage data, trigger appropriate responses, initiate new actions, and autonomously communicate with other systems.

How to Amp Up Your QuickBooks Online ERP with RPA

Allow us to make a few assumptions. 1) You’re relatively happy with QuickBooks Online ERP. 2) QuickBooks Online is the right price point for your company. 3) Your CFO is familiar with and comfortable with QuickBooks Online. For all of those reasons, you want to stick with it instead of moving to another ERP solution. But…there are areas where QuickBooks Online is not delivering the results you need to run your business efficiently.

Implementing RPA software on top of QuickBooks Online could do the trick. There are many ways that RPA can be applied to your current QuickBooks Online ERP system to fill in the gaps or amp up the capabilities of QuickBooks Online. Here are a few examples:

  • For improved customer service: RPA can help you offer better customer service by automating contact center tasks, including verifying e-signatures, uploading scanned documents, and verifying information for automatic approvals or rejections.
  • For basic accounting: You can use RPA for general accounting, operational accounting, transactional reporting, and budgeting.
  • For financial services organizations: Companies in the financial services industry can use RPA for foreign exchange payments, automating account openings and closings, managing audit requests, and processing insurance claims.
  • For healthcare companies: Medical organizations can use RPA for handling patient records, claims, customer support, account management, billing, reporting, and analytics.
  • For automating human resources tasks: RPA can automate HR tasks, including onboarding and offboarding, updating employee information, and timesheet submission processes.
  • For improved supply chain management (SCM): RPA can be used for procurement, automating order processing and payments, monitoring inventory levels, and tracking shipments.

What are the benefits of implementing RPA?

The number one benefit is ROI and cost savings. A recent study conducted over the course of 3 years showed the following:

  • ROI of 186%
  • $10.9 million in savings over that period due to fewer instances of re-work
  • $11.1 million in savings over that same period by holding the headcount steady and increasing productivity

RPA will also:

  • Ensure that operations and processes comply with regulatory requirements and standards
  • Allow processes to be completed significantly more quickly
  • Provide improved efficiency by digitizing and auditing process data

RPA is a cost-effective boost for your company’s overall digital transformation.

Digging deeper into the differences between traditional workflow and automation tools versus RPA

Yes, we discussed some of the differences above. Now we are taking a deeper dive into how RPA uses different technologies to achieve outcomes previously achieved via traditional tools.

In traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language. In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI) and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI. This can lower the barrier to use of automation in products that might not otherwise feature APIs for this purpose.

RPA tools have strong technical similarities to graphical user interface testing tools. These tools also automate interactions with the GUI and often do so by repeating a set of demonstration actions performed by a user. RPA tools differ from such systems in that they allow data to be handled in and between multiple applications, for instance, receiving email containing an invoice, extracting the data, and then typing that into a bookkeeping system.

Okay, we have said enough. Now take the next step…

I daresay that we have belabored our point far enough. RPA is truly a game-changer, a paradigm shift, if you will. Strategic Systems Group (SSG) has been exploring RPA for some time now, and we are impressed by its potential. The relative affordability of RPA arises from the fact that no additional IT transformation or investment is required. Instead, the software bots simply leverage existing IT assets and use them to a more significant advantage.

Are you fascinated? Have we piqued your interest in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for QuickBooks Online? Please call us at (310) 539-4645 or reach out via our contact form today!

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