You’ve probably heard Robotic Process Automation (RPA) described as a “bot” or “digital worker” that is great at completing routine tasks. This is an excellent way to think about RPA, but it’s admittedly quite broad. You’re probably still asking yourself questions like these: 

  • What is the best way for me to deploy RPA in my everyday business? 
  • What processes could RPA effectively automate with minimal risk yet still provide a meaningful return? 

The truth is, the possibilities for RPA are almost endless, but knowing that, it becomes overwhelming to determine just where in your business to begin. 

Fortunately, with the adoption of RPA reaching record highs, it’s possible to abstract and uncover common processes that companies target for low-cost, high-impact automation. Keep reading to learn why RPA adoption has become so widespread and the common use cases that have delivered ROI across industry lines. 

RPA’s Versatility Drives Adoption 

RPA has become wildly popular for many reasons, but the fact that it’s department-, system-, and industry-agnostic is certainly near the top of the list. It can be deployed across multiple business functions and positively impact an entire organization. 

If your business has employees performing repetitive, tedious, computer-based work, you will find no shortage of areas that can be automated. In fact, a typical program will break even in less than a year and deliver an approximate ROI of 250% on the initial investment – with that number only improving over time. 

After the completion of an initial automation project to see the technology in action, business leaders begin to understand the versatility of RPA. Internal requests for automation grow from there, and often quite rapidly! 

Key Use Cases for RPA by Function 

Given RPA’s track record, the demand for automation in your organization will quickly outpace your capacity to deliver, so it’s important to choose projects wisely. To do so, there are several criteria to consider when thinking about what to automate. 

In general, business leaders should focus automation projects on processes that are well-defined and require numerous manual steps. If you are looking for the areas that will most likely provide a good return quickly, focus first on business-enablement functions. 

Why Business-Enablement Functions? 

RPA is used to automate a wide variety of work, including billing and accounting processes, data entry and data processing, business analytics and reporting, email management, report creation and distribution, enterprise tool integration, and more. 

These are great starting points for any organization because these processes are built on tasks that follow clear, repeatable sets of rules, and they are time-consuming and tedious for people to complete. In addition, ensuring these essential processes can be completed accurately and timely is key to ensuring business continuity, especially amid labor shortages and periods of high turnover like businesses are facing today. 

In fact, by leveraging bots to complete these mundane but business-critical tasks, organizations are free to scale up or down easily – without the cost of adding headcount when business is booming and without the burden of layoffs when business is slow. Furthermore, shifting work to a digital worker reduces per hour costs by as much as 95%! To be clear, RPA rarely leads to mass layoffs; it enables organizations to make the most of their resources, cut costs, win new customers, take on higher value projects, and even create new revenue streams. 

Functions by Department 

Consider each department in your organization and ask your leaders on the ground about the manual processes that take up their teams’ days. For example, Gartner estimates that automating financial reporting alone can save accounting and finance departments up to 25,000 hours of work annually! The time saved by automating reporting allows you to both scale quickly as new customers come aboard – without needing to add headcount – and reassign current team members to higher value projects. 

Meanwhile, automating new employee onboarding tasks, like completing forms and setting up IT access, frees up your HR partners to focus on the tasks that require a human touch, ensuring a positive employee experience. 

The following are just a few examples of common, department-specific opportunities for RPA that can deliver significant time and cost savings: 

Functions by Department

Department

Common Use Cases

Accounting

Payroll processing

Invoice processing

AP/AR Tracking

Procurement

PO issuing 
Inventory management 
Order processing 
Shipment tracking 
Vendor onboarding

Customer Service

E-signature verification
Chatbots

IT

Software installs
Data migration
Credentialing

HR

Employee onboarding
New hire forms completion
Benefits enrollment

Sales

Pricing and/or quoting
Order Management

These common RPA use cases are a great place to begin your initiative. Of course, every business is unique, so be sure to first validate these opportunities with your department leadership to understand their biggest pain points and bottlenecks and then prioritize the tasks and processes that will have the most impact. 

Functions by Industry 

Each industry also has common RPA use cases specific to their operations. The following is a list of common opportunities by industry: 

Functions by Industry

Industry

Common Use Cases

Financial Services

Forex payments
Account opens/closures

Audit requests
Loan data updates

Telecommunications

Competitor price aggregation
Consolidating phone system data

Healthcare

EHR management
Account management
Insurance claim processing
Revenue cycle management (RCM)

Manufacturing

ERP processes

Price/product comparisons
Logistics management

Retail

Market research
Product/inventory management
Order tracking

Government

Subcontractor form processing
Verification processes
Legacy systems integration
Report generation

Conclusion 

Now that you understand the kinds of work RPA can be used to automate, it probably won’t be a surprise to learn that Gartner predicts, “…90% of large organizations globally will have adopted RPA in some form by 2022.” While the mid-market is less saturated, adoption is growing each year as organizations of all sizes learn how cost-effective and beneficial automation can be. 

Ultimately, the company of the future will have a mix of human employees and digital employees, and the companies that get there first are going to have a huge advantage. 

Contact us today to discuss how automation might work for your business or for help evaluating a process you have in mind.