Date: June 7, 2023

Robotic Process Automation in Learning Operations

Over the past few years, there has been intensifying interest in robotics and in the application of cognitive and artificial intelligence technologies, both in the media and on the conference circuit. Robotic process automation (RPA) is already delivering value, and early movers in shared services and other administrative organizations are achieving significant benefits, which are highlighted in Deloitte's third annual RPA Survey.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the adoption of technology to automate operational business processes. It uses a spectrum of artificial intelligence tools like bots, to reduce manual involvement in repetitive and standard administrative tasks. This in turn, helps in minimizing errors and improving output. 

More and more organizations are beginning to leverage RPA to manage intense administrative tasks. As per the Deloitte’s 2021 global survey, “73% of respondents said their organizations have embarked on a path to intelligent automation: a significant 58% jump from the number reported in 2019.” In fact, CIO in its report on RPA notes that software robots can increase a team’s capacity for work by 35%-50%. For instance, simply copying and pasting information using robots can accelerate the business systems by 30%-50%. 

Robotic Process Automation in Learning Administration 

Given the multiple advantages of automation, RPA is now being implemented across industries and business functions. In the realm of learning, L&D functions are increasingly looking at RPA to help optimize learning operations. As an example, in some companies RPA is being used in Learning Administration to automate processes like data entry and course scheduling to reduce time and errors. Consequently, training administrators are able to focus on tasks which benefit the overall learning value chain. A win-win situation. 

However, automation has minimal impact in certain aspects. For example, in classroom training, administration tasks around facilitation require meet and greet coordination. While automation can be used in administrative tasks, human intervention is necessary to facilitate coordination.  

Another example is virtual training, which requires tasks like virtual hosting support, facilitation of virtual sessions/Q&A / and technical support during the session. These tasks require constant manual support that cannot be automated easily.  

How to Get Started? 

To implement RPA in your organization, you must take into account that not all processes can be automated. The first step then is to identify processes in the system which are consistent and predictable, and can benefit from automation. In a situation where the input isn’t consistent, it is important to record all possible permutations and combinations. 

Different kinds of automation can be used in different scenarios. For example, in case you have a small process team, you can begin automation by using simple tools like iMacros. These tools are mostly free but would help you improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your existing processes. 

In case of large teams, there are many other advanced tools in the market (UiPath, Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism etc.) which are leaders in the RPA domain. They are all effective and affordable when you have large teams and even a small step in automation can help reduce or reallocate substantial headcount.