These days we’re all busy right? Throughout the week you could spend a whole day checking and responding to emails. But what if there were some tasks you could automate? Developments in technology have allowed businesses to automate tasks- simple or those that are a little more complex. If you haven’t started to automate processes with robotic process automation (RPA), then it’s time to figure out the top ways you can start to automate. There are many ways you can automate Microsoft applications with RPA and it will make your daily work life not only more productive, but more impactful since you will have more time for other tasks that need attention. Taking an RPA approach to streamline internal processes will save time and money that will only improve the organization’s overall productivity.

So what is RPA? RPA is when a user configures software to create a virtual agent or bot that completes a certain task. The following are the top Microsoft apps/tasks organizations should be automating to increase overall efficiency.

Microsoft Excel or Sharepoint Reports

I don’t know who likes to spend their time compiling and updating reports. This should be number one on your list of things to automate. This work can be long and tedious and keeping up to date on regular reports whether they need to be weekly, monthly or quarterly is vital to many businesses to gauge performance. So how can you automate the number of Excel spreadsheets you’re keeping? The answer is with RPA software robots. All you need is a repeated process with if/then logic attached to it.

A data management robot has the flexibility to perform several different steps/tasks and in different programs. For example, a robot can obtain and use the data from either one or several sources and can then copy it into an Excel spreadsheet or upload the report automatically to a program like Sharepoint for others in your organization to review. The potential for these data management robots is exponential and is a way for many businesses to automate a task that could take one employee several hours each week compiling, sharing, and uploading data.

Email Management

Whether you work with Microsoft Outlook or Exchange, managing your email is another tedious task that is never-ending. According to a McKinsey report, the average professional spends 28 percent of the work day reading and answering emails. Are you ready to get more than a quarter of your day back? An RPA platform can be setup to monitor your inbox. For example, an organization can setup an inbox for just invoices or customer service. Based on the data in the subject line or email, the RPA software will automatically respond to the email with the information. Machine learning can also play a part in some RPA software tools automatically forwarding certain customer service emails to the appropriate contact or department.

With Office 365, you can setup a mail merge with certain lists of email addresses and have a scheduled email to go out every month or however often you’d like. This is extremely helpful if you’re managing a several teams and need to request certain information on a regular basis. This ensures that the messaging is going out even if you’ve become swamped with higher priority tasks. It’s also a way to make sure you’re keeping in touch with your important contacts on a regular basis rather than sporadically. Think of it as your own personal marketing automation solution for your own inbox.

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Business Intelligence

While BI software does need to be put in place, Power BI tasks can be automated as well. There are robots that can take screenshots of your Power BI dashboards and reports and send them anywhere they need to be. The robot will then upload the screenshots as an image or PDF and send them wherever you need them to be to whoever needs to analyze those insights. The only thing that needs to be done is setting up the robot and define what information needs to be sent, where and how often. Instead of doing, your delegating which only needs to be done once. For example, if management wants a monthly report with all of the insights being collected on a particular dashboard to keep up with equipment maintenance or the company’s financial status, then you can simply automate that process by setting up a bot to take a snapshot of the report and have it sent to the appropriate people.

Internal and External Communication

Yes, this might not sound like something new to you. It’s rare these days to actually talk to a person on the phone when you even want to something as simple as paying a bill over the phone. But RPA takes this type of communication a step further. A robot will not only record the information from an email or other method of communication, but based on that data and information, will take follow-up action. For example, responding to help desk requests. Depending on how large your organization is, you might not have enough resources to adequately keep up with IT services. For simple tasks like resetting passwords or creating new users, based on the information that is in the ticket, RPA will automatically perform and complete certain tasks to free up valuable resources who are needed for more difficult tasks.

RPA can also be used to setup meeting invites across your organization-again saving time searching through everyone’s calendars and finding a time when everyone is free. A bot can be setup to search and deploy an invite based on everyone’s availability.

If you think hard enough, an organization could make the case that you could automate most of the tasks done on a daily basis to make room for more innovation and making more important business decisions…but even that can be automated with AI and BI software! With advances in technology today, the easiest way to be more efficient and improve productivity is with RPA solutions and this can be done with several different Microsoft applications. There are a lot of RPA platforms that now natively integrate with the online versions of Microsoft applications, not just the desktop version, which gives users even more freedom and flexibility. While RPA is still somewhat of a small market (totaling nearly $850 million in revenue in 2018), it won’t be for long. According to a 2018 Gartner report, RPA is the fastest-growing software subsegment, with year-on-year growth of over 63% in 2018. RPA’s market growth is being fueled by the large number of organizations that are struggling to automate mundane work and management won’t have to look far to realize the many benefits behind it.

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