Image by: baona, ©2019 Getty Images

Organizations have more opportunities than ever before to improve their business processes—or totally rethink them. Robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent capture are two technologies that can help enterprises deliver efficient and optimized processes to meet the needs of customers faster. However, with so many entry points to pick from, where should you start?

It's best to prioritize your automation opportunities according to volume, value, and stakes:
  • High Volume: These are highly repetitive processes, which are easy targets for automation.
  • High Value: These processes are usually focused on the organization's financials (such as sales quotes) and those that enhance the customer experience and reduce customer churn.
  • High Stakes: These are processes where a mistake could potentially land the enterprise in hot water. For example, a copy-and-paste error could result in a costly compliance breach or a process backlog could lead to regularly missed deadlines.
Now that you understand the kinds of processes to consider for your automation efforts, here are 10 functional areas where RPA can be applied as well:

1. Key Stakeholder Onboarding

These processes span finance and accounting, sales or new accounts, and human resources (HR). They're good candidates for automation because they all involve extensive paperwork, vetting, and lengthy back-and-forth communications between the company and the other party. RPA allows enterprises to design an automated onboarding process that includes automatic status communications and full integration with the internal systems of the enterprise.

2. User Setup and Configuration

There's also the information technology (IT) side of employee onboarding. Someone has to add and configure a new user so that new employees can log into their computer, email, network, etc. RPA can automate this process so that staff can focus on higher value work, clearing out backlogged items, or discovering additional automation opportunities.

3. Key Stakeholder Maintenance

Data continually changes for existing stakeholders too. For example, an employee may submit a change of address form or a customer may decide to resign a yearly contract. RPA offers excellent capability for automating these processes that are triggered by another event (e.g., annual renewal), a date, or a task. RPA ensures the data is accurately updated in real time across all systems.

4. Report Aggregation

RPA can automate the collection and aggregation of data in a fraction of the time it takes to manually pull this information together. This gives your team more time to comb through the data for trends and other insights.

5. Payroll Processing

Ever-changing tax laws and regulatory reporting requirements—in addition to working with business systems that don’t talk to each other—can swallow up entire days of work each month for payroll processing. RPA facilitates the collection and connection of that data across multiple systems, such as time tracking, HR and employee management, accounts payable, and general ledger. Moreover, RPA helps automate accounting reports for taxes and various departments.

6. Customer Due Diligence

Staying on top of and complying with regulations, like customer due diligence, know your customer, and anti-money laundering, is expensive and challenging. RPA automatically acquires, enhances, and delivers the precise data the enterprise needs to comply with laws and regulations from any internal or external source. It can also review many more data points in a shorter time period to provide a more complete assessment.

7. Competitive Pricing and Monitoring

Buyers comparison shop, jumping from site to site while online and even looking up a competitor's price while in a store. Amazon and others use repricing software to automate the time-consuming job of keeping up with their competition. Similarly, it’s important for enterprises to know what their competition is up to. With the help of RPA, enterprises can monitor and proactively reprice in real time so that they aren’t relying on outdated reports that typically take days and weeks to compile.

8. Order Processing

This involves several time-consuming manual tasks, like address verification, data entry, printing invoices and shipping labels, updating warehouse inventory, reordering if stock is low, and much more. With RPA, enterprises automate this process.

9. Shipment Scheduling and Tracking

Scheduling, updating, and reporting shipment status between internal systems and portals is typically a manual job. If it isn’t executed smoothly, the customer experience suffers. RPA extracts shipment requests from incoming emails, log jobs in scheduling systems, and provides pick-up times in customer and/or carrier portals.

10. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Updates

Data entry, such as updating the CRM system, seldom features high on anyone’s to-do list, even though this information can provide critical insight for strategic decision-making. RPA delivers automatic updates by gathering intel on prospects and posting it in the proper fields in the CRM system.

With RPA, enterprises can deploy a digital workforce to execute repetitive tasks and manual processes, thereby, enabling employees to focus on high-value activities and significantly enhance their productivity, efficiency, and work quality. What processes will you start automating?

Daniel Schmidt has 20 years of experience in the enterprise software industry, specializing in the improvement of customer engagement technologies and processes. Follow him on Twitter @Schmidt_D.