The Focus Is On AI, But RPA Still Offers Enormous Value

April 2, 2024  |  Mark Hillary

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been around for decades. It developed from the old ‘macros’ that users of tools like Microsoft Excel could create to perform repetitive tasks. Macros were useful, but very limited and essentially just repeated the same series or clicks or keystrokes over and over again.

RPA has come a long way since then. Now it can be viewed more like a layer of intelligence that can be applied to business processes. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has captured most of the discussion around innovation in the past year, but RPA is still a valuable tool that can offer a lot to companies that want to streamline business processes.

IBA Group website features an excellent case study that shows exactly how this can be applied. Consider the example of how business trips can be authorized and then the user can have their expenses processed. It’s traditionally a very cumbersome process that involves emails, spreadsheets, and a lot of paper receipts.

This case study shows how the system itself can be automated and streamlined, so the cost to process a business trip is reduced in addition to the ability for managers to focus on their real job – not processing receipts from travel or meals while traveling.

Travel is an important area to target because research shows that people really want to travel in their job — it’s a highly attractive perk. Most people will even accept a lower salary if their job involves regular business travel. So business travel can be seen as a strong tool for attracting and retaining team members – making sure it is not a huge additional cost to the business is important.

You can click through on the earlier links to explore the case study, but let’s consider that example. If you had to explore how RPA could improve your business travel management and processing, then where would you start?

There are a number of options:

  • Automated Data Entry: RPA bots can extract relevant data from receipts and expense forms automatically. This eliminates the need for manual data entry by employees, reducing errors and saving time. It’s also a terrible job that most managers hate – the first day back after a trip can be entirely wasted on processing receipts.
  • Integration with Existing Systems: RPA bots can integrate with existing systems such as accounting software, CRM systems, and travel management platforms. This ensures seamless transfer of data between different systems, eliminating the need for manual intervention and reducing the chances of errors. This is essential for the connection of travel approval systems with expenses processing.
  • Rules-based Processing: RPA bots can be programmed to follow specific rules and guidelines for expense claims processing. This ensures consistency and compliance with company policies, reducing the risk of fraudulent claims. Most individual managers are probably not aware of all the travel policies, so it can dramatically help when creating automated checks before booking and during the expenses claim process.

The advantages appear to be obvious, but let’s consider just a few of them:

  • Faster Processing Time: RPA bots can process expense claims much faster compared to manual processing. This leads to quicker reimbursements for employees and improved cash flow management for the company. Employees that need to pay their own credit card bill will especially appreciate this.
  • 24/7 Availability: RPA bots can work round the clock, allowing expense claims to be processed even outside of normal business hours. This ensures timely processing of claims and enhances employee satisfaction.
  • Cost Savings: By automating the expense claims process, companies can significantly reduce the administrative overhead associated with manual processing. This leads to cost savings in terms of time and resources.
  • Audit Trail and Compliance: RPA bots can generate detailed audit trails of all expense claims processed, including timestamps and actions taken. This ensures transparency and accountability, making it easier to comply with regulatory requirements and internal audits.

Although the headlines have all focused on AI, there is still a strong case to be made for RPA in business processes such as this. RPA creates the opportunity to make the expenses process operate faster, more accurately, and at a lower cost. RPA bots can also scale easily, so if the volume of expenses being filed goes up or down through the year, then the RPA system can flex as required.

RPA is still a powerful solution for process automation — don’t forget about it just because the attention of the tech media has been elsewhere.

For examples of IBA client success stories, including RPA, please click here. Follow IBA Group on LinkedIn for regular updates and comment. For more information on technology strategy and how tech connects to real business solutions, please click here.

    Access full story Leave your corporate email to get a file.

      Subscribe A bank transforms the way they work and reach