ERP systems are going to play a major role in corporate IT for the foreseeable future, and the use of RPA to eliminate ERP inefficiencies or gain advantages that were not imagined before represents a huge opportunity for IT departments. In addition to improving efficiency, bots can free employees to make better use of their time and even boost morale — often with ROI in only a few months
Robotic process automation (RPA) is an intelligent automation technology that is ideal to address the inefficiency problems that are inherent in most ERP systems. The software “bots” created by an RPA platform perform the same functions as human beings would, but substantially faster and with a near zero-error rate. They can operate 24/7 or trigger automatically as needed. They scale up or down, work across any number of systems, and can automatically handle even data or system anomalies and auto-correct. And most importantly for IT, they significantly enhance but in no way impact existing systems.
A recent study found that 51 percent of companies with ERP systems had to use manual extraction and transformation if they wanted to reuse ERP data. It is interesting to note that most companies take that for granted — meaning that they have assumed that this participation must always be manual, using humans as bridges between applications or as part of processes.
From a technical perspective, RPA works best on processes that have the following characteristics:
- Rules-based, where human judgment involved is small or predictable with a reasonable degree of confidence
- Stable, i.e., not subject to frequent changes