What Do Associations Need to Know About RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) might sound like a term straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s very much a reality in today’s digital age. As businesses and industries evolve, the need for automation becomes paramount. Here’s a deep dive into RPA and its transformative potential, specifically in the Association space. 

What is RPA? 

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation. In simple terms, it’s about using tools to automate processes that were previously done manually. Imagine moving data from Point A to Point B or processing vast amounts of data without human intervention. RPA tools interact with systems just like a human would. These bots can be thought of as ‘digital workers’, performing tasks that an employee would typically handle.  

RPA vs. AI: What’s the Difference? 

While both RPA and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are buzzwords in the tech industry, they serve different purposes: 

  • RPA is about automating specific steps, clicks, and actions. It’s about ensuring a process is completed efficiently without human intervention. 
  • AI, on the other hand, enhances RPA. It involves data models, continuous learning, and making subjective decisions based on vast amounts of data.   

The Rise of RPA in the Association Space 

The most significant advantage of RPA? Enhanced productivity. By automating repetitive tasks, employees can focus on more value-additive activities, leading to increased job satisfaction. Moreover, by viewing RPA as a tool to enhance their roles rather than replace them, employees can see the benefits it brings to their daily tasks.  

Despite being around for a while, RPA hasn’t been widely discussed in the association space. However, it should be a much more discussed topic – RPA is where culture and technology can meet. Two primary areas where RPA can make a significant impact include: 

  • Automating Mundane Tasks: Over the years, employees have been burdened with repetitive tasks, like moving data or clicking buttons multiple times a day. RPA can handle these efficiently, freeing up human resources. 
  • Bridging the Modernization Gap: As associations move towards modernizing their operations, RPA can serve as an interim solution, ensuring that processes are streamlined, and employees can focus on future technological advancements. 

Starting with RPA: The How-To 

When considering RPA, businesses often wonder where to start. The process typically involves: 

identifying processes for RPAIdentifying Processes for Automation: Many times, clients know what processes they want to automate. If not, engage with departments to understand which processes they believe could benefit from automation. Daily tasks can be monitored to identify bottlenecks or repetitive processes ripe for automation. Identifying the use cases and the ROI can help with buy-in. 

Implementation: Because RPA works with existing processes, implementing RPA takes less time and money than software development. Depending on the complexity of the tasks, businesses can opt for low-code/no-code solutions like Power Automate or Zapier. However, for more intricate processes, a technical background might be necessary. Having an expert on board during the process can also be beneficial because they will implement standards. 

Change management plays a crucial role. It’s essential to get buy-in from senior leadership and involve individual contributors early in the process to ensure a smooth transition. Additionally, it is important to get the individual contributors who will be affected involved early, so they are prepared to make changes in their day-to-day and understand the value it will create on the individual level. And, If you can start with the tasks people don’t enjoy, it’ll help to change the culture. 

Determining the ROI for RPA helps the organization determine both the impact of automation. Try our free RPA ROI Calculator to calculate how much automating your process could save your organization.

Final Thoughts | RPA for Associations

RPA might seem intimidating at first, but with the right approach and mindset, it can revolutionize the way Associations operate. As the ‘future of work manifesto’ from propelnow.co aptly puts it, “work is the expending of effort for the creation of value. If there is no effort but it’s still considered work, it should be automated.” It’s time to embrace RPA and harness its potential for a more efficient future. 

Looking to dig in further? Listen to this episode of The Association Mashup Podcast.