Many companies find that even after implementing a new ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics 365, their operational efficiency still has room for improvement. While Dynamics 365 consolidates data from multiple departments, it can also lead to increased data entry workload, overwhelming employees. This blog update explores how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can address this challenge and dramatically improve efficiency.
What is RPA (Robotic Process Automation)?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software technology that mimics human actions to automate repetitive, rule-based tasks within digital systems. Think of it as a digital assistant that can work tirelessly and flawlessly, performing tasks like data entry, invoice processing, and report generation. By freeing up human resources from these mundane tasks, RPA enables them to focus on higher-value activities like analysis, decision-making, and creative work. This ultimately leads to improved efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings for businesses across all industries.
AI vs. RPA: Understanding the Differences
While both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) play valuable roles in automating tasks, they have distinct characteristics and application areas.
RPA does not require machine learning or artificial intelligence, as it is designed to follow pre-determined rules and decision trees. The key difference between AI and RPA is that AI focuses on cognitive tasks that require intelligence, while RPA focuses on automating routine, manual tasks.
Here’s a breakdown of their key differences:
- AI: Aims to replicate human intelligence and cognitive abilities, enabling machines to learn, adapt, and make intelligent decisions.
- RPA: Focuses on automating repetitive, rule-based tasks through software robots that mimic human actions.
- AI: Can handle complex and unstructured tasks, including decision-making, problem-solving, and pattern recognition.
- RPA: Can only handle predefined, structured tasks that have clear rules and procedures.
- AI: Can continuously learn and improve through machine learning algorithms and data analysis.
- RPA: Relies on pre-programmed rules and cannot learn or adapt on its own.
- AI: Facial recognition, chatbots, personalized recommendations, fraud detection, medical diagnosis.
- RPA: Data entry, invoice processing, order fulfillment, customer service interactions, report generation.
While AI and RPA seem distinct, they can work together to achieve even greater automation. AI can analyze data and provide insights to guide RPA processes, while RPA can automate tasks that free up human resources for more strategic initiatives that require AI’s cognitive abilities.
AI vs RPA Comparison Table
|Replicate human intelligence
|Automate repetitive tasks
|Complex, unstructured tasks
|Predefined, structured tasks
|Facial recognition, chatbots
|Data entry, invoice processing
Automate Your Workflow with RPA and Dynamics 365
Combining Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Dynamics 365 unlocks a world of possibilities for businesses. Imagine eliminating tedious, repetitive tasks like data entry, invoice processing, and report generation, freeing up valuable human resources for higher-level activities like strategic decision-making, customer service, and product development. This potent combination leads to a cascade of benefits, including:
- Increased Efficiency: RPA automates tasks with unwavering accuracy and speed, significantly reducing processing times and streamlining workflows. This translates to faster order fulfillment, quicker customer response times, and improved overall operational efficiency.
- Enhanced Data Accuracy: RPA removes the risk of human error inherent in manual data entry, ensuring accuracy and consistency across all your Dynamics 365 data. This leads to better decision-making, improved reporting, and reduced financial discrepancies.
- Reduced Costs: By automating routine tasks, RPA eliminates the need for manual labor, leading to significant cost savings. These savings can be reinvested in strategic initiatives, driving further growth and competitive advantage.
- Improved Employee Satisfaction: Freed from tedious tasks, employees can focus on more creative and fulfilling work, leading to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and retention. This fosters a positive work environment and attracts top talent.
- Enhanced Scalability: As your business grows, RPA can seamlessly scale to meet your evolving needs. This allows you to handle increased workload without adding additional personnel, ensuring your business stays agile and adaptable in a dynamic market.
Benefits Beyond Data Entry:
RPA can perform various tasks beyond data entry, including:
- Generating reports: RPA can extract data from Dynamics 365 and create standard Excel reports, automating report generation and distribution.
- Cross-application workflows: RPA can automate workflows that span multiple applications, streamlining processes and improving data consistency.
How a Beverage Company Automated Data Entry and Saved $10k
This case study highlights how a beverage manufacturer used RPA to automate its daily order entry process. Previously, it took employees 2 hours daily to manually enter data from customer Excel sheets into Dynamics GP. By implementing an RPA robot, the company achieved the following:
- Automated data entry: The robot retrieves order sheets from a specified folder, reads data, converts it to the required format, and enters it into Dynamics GP.
- Increased efficiency: The robot completes the data entry process in a fraction of the time it used to take humans, saving the company 2 hours per day.
- Improved accuracy: RPA eliminates human error, leading to 100% accuracy in data entry.
- Cost savings: The company saved $10,000 annually through increased efficiency and reduced human labor costs.
- Freed up human resources: Employees are now free to focus on higher-value tasks like sales analysis and promotion planning.
In the case of this beverage manufacturer, the RPA robot now logs in to Dynamics ERP, activates the sales module, and automatically enters customer code, part number code, quantity, and shipping destination from Excel files into the system, processing an average of 1,000 orders per hour. This has freed up employees’ time, allowing them to focus on more strategic activities, and improved data accuracy by reducing the risk of errors.
The concrete work content of RPA
- Retrieve order sheet (Excel) of each customer from the specified folder.
- Read Excel data, copy required fields (customer code, part number code, quantity, shipping destination, etc.), and convert to standard template (CSV) for importing order.
- Copy the necessary information from the import template (CSV) and start the Dynamics ERP.
- Login to Dynamics ERP.
- Select Sales Management Module.
- Enter information copied on the order entry screen to the specified field.
- Repeat until all order data are entered.
- After finishing the work, launch email notifying completion to the person in charge.
As a result, the data input work that used to take 2 hours each day has been replaced by the RPA, allowing human resources to be allocated to work of higher value such as sales analysis and promotion planning. They have saved $10k annually and made 100% accuracy of the operation.
The Future of RPA
RPA is quickly becoming a standard tool for optimizing ERP utilization. While complex business process automation still requires careful planning, RPA is expected to play an increasingly significant role in automating routine tasks and freeing up human resources for higher-value work.
Advanced RPA tools are integrating with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, enabling them to handle decision-making, orchestrate workflows across multiple applications, and even handle unstructured data. This translates to automating entire back-office operations, including complex tasks like financial reconciliation, customer onboarding, and supply chain management.
This isn’t about replacing humans. Instead, RPA frees employees from mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on higher-level thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Imagine finance teams partnering with RPA bots to analyze trends and predict financial risks, or sales teams working alongside bots to personalize customer interactions and close deals faster. This human-robot synergy unlocks true operational excellence.
At Calsoft Systems, we are dedicated to advancing business efficiency through innovative solutions that seamlessly integrate ERP products, including Dynamics 365 (Business Central and Finance/Operation), with cutting-edge RPA technology like UiPath.
If you’ve recently implemented an ERP system but are encountering lingering inefficiencies or find that manual operational tasks persist, we invite you to reach out to us. Our team is eager to assist and explore tailored solutions to enhance your business processes.
Improve your operational efficiency and get the most out of your Dynamics 365 investment.
Contact Calsoft Systems today to learn how RPA can help you achieve your goals.