RPA in Sri Lanka

Internet of Things, AI(Artificial Intelligence), Blockchain, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) are some of the Buzzwords you could be hearing with related to the technology these days. The modern world is changing more and more quickly with each passing year. Running a company in Sri Lanka is no different, if you don’t pay attention to new changes or keep up the pace, your business will fall behind.

By SURAJEE RATNAYAKE / 4 Mins Read

RPA or Robotic Process Automation is one area almost any organizations from Sri Lanka can benefit from. In this article we will discuss,

Background

“Daily work in-front of a computer means lots of keyboard and mouse click work, but completely necessary and important for the smooth functioning of the organization. However, these repetitive, tedious & time consuming tasks could be boring, also from the organization’s point of view, it would make more sense and will save lots of money if these repetitive IT tasks can be automated”

Digital age has given rise to use of computers as orginizations. In a typical business organization there’s lot of repetitive IT tasks such as,

  • opening programs
  • data entry
  • receiving/sending emails
  • downloading information
  • form filling
  • report preparation

These all involve lots of keyboard and mouse click work, but completely necessary and important for the smooth functiong of the organization. However, these are repetitive, tedius & time consuming tasks. For an employee it could be boring and he/she might feel of very little value addition in their work. Similarly, from the organization’s point of view, it would make more sense and will save lots of money if these repetitve IT tasks can be automated. Then the employee can be put to more productive and interesting work. This is where RPA comes in.

What is RPA?

Check this video. This is an example of RPA in use. As you can clearly see, RPA can free up employees from doing mundane, repetitive, busy tasks to do more important work. How? It uses robots (bots or small programs running in the computer) to do this work. For many, robotic automation means, mechanical robots/mechanical arms making cars for example. However, Robotic Process Automation is all about software robots (or commonly called bots). RPA bots manipulate the modern day desktop GUI to automate these repetitive tasks. In simple words, it mimics humans. RPA works on the GUI of a computer, that means, RPA bots, once trained, can exactly do typing, clicking, opening programs, copying, saving, emails and many other repetitive tasks a human employee would do.

RPA Use Cases

At a higher level, following are very common uses cases for any industry,

  • Data Entering/Transfer to/between Multiple Sources/Systems: This includes manual data entering in to one or many systems or data transfer between systems manually.
  • Integration of multiple systems (including legacy systems): Sometimes, IT systems do not have API integration due to various reasons. In such a scenario, connecting two systems for data transfer or migration can easily be done with RPA.
  • Data Extraction from Documents (Data Digitization): Extracting data from pdf documents, images or paper format and entering such info into IT systems takes valuable human resources. Such data digitization can easily be done with RPA.
  • Information verification or checks from high volume data sources such as databases, excel sheets or other reports is essential in business, however requires expensive man power. Automation of such scenarios is a very common use case of RPA.
  • Add features to newly procured systems: Sometimes, newly procured systems may still miss some important functionality. Adding these functions could be expensive or nearly impossible due to practical limitations. RPA can help bridge these limitations easily

“Simply put, if there’s a repetitive task happening with any one or a more of the above, that task could be a very good candidate for RPA in your organization”

Does RPA Affect Jobs?

Research has shown that the cost of a robot is a tenth of a full time worker. In addtion, RPA bots, gives the speed, accuracy and the cost efficiency. Think of the invention of automobile. It replaced the horses and coach builders.

However, RPA gave the rise to a new set of career opportunities. With RPA, employees can be empowered more valuable, more interesting tasks that gives more value to the organization.

rpa-data-entry

Who are the RPA vendors in the market?

Still RPA is dominated by few big players in the global market, Sri Lanka is no different. BluePrism, UIPath, AutomationAnywhere are the RPA leaders. Most of these companies offer similar products/services, however, their prices still remain at pemium levels. 

Therefore, as with any other product or service, premium price doesn’t always means it’s the best solution for your RPA needs.
So, it’s always good to shop around and pick the best solution in the market for your automation. Best solution is always a mix of good set of features with a good price and a good solutions team to handhold you during the implementation.

How do you get started with RPA?

  1. First and foremost, identify an internal team/person from your organization (preferably from IT) who’s going to champion and drive the RPA initiative.
  2. Figure our where your organization currently stands. It’s important to understand which processes you need to automate with RPA initially.
    An easy way to identify is to locate a department/function which does lots of data entering. Such good RPA candidates are finance, HR or operations departments. In addition to identifying applications, decide on the automation workflows also.
  3. Next comes identifying a potential solution provider and a vendor. As stated earlier, most of the ‘top-rated’ vendors provide similar functionalities in their products. However, there are few other solutions which offers similar functionality but in a more cost effective way. This could be attractive, practical and a good technological for your organization too.
  4. After the selection of a solution provider, proceed for a PoC with a selected process/workflow. You could call it the pilot project. Once that’s a success, make a time plan for the automation of rest of the identified processes.
  5. Lastly, RPA is not a project, it’s an ongoing thing, therefore, most importantly make the automation a part of the organizational culture and strategy.

Premium Software as a RPA Solution Provider

There are few solution providers who represent these big brands in Sri Lanka. Premium Software however, stands apart from the traditional RPA solution providers in Sri Lanka. It gives it’s customers a unique RPA solution which matches the market needs of Sri Lankan companies at a fraction of a cost of the big vendors and other solution providers. 

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