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RPA and COVID-19: Navigating Turbulent Times with The Help of Automation

It has been three months since the world saw the COVID-19 pandemic surface and spread to more than 160 countries, infecting more than 200,000 people with a death toll of over 10,000 as of March 20, 2020.

The economy is taking massive blows, with companies’ ability to function being affected dramatically across a wide range of industries, from tourism and travel, to retail, and logistics, companies are suffering the onslaught of this pandemic.

However, compared to the previous outbreaks, the world is better prepared to address a global healthcare crisis today, there is technology ready and available that can be leveraged to help organizations minimize losses and also reduce the spread of diseases like COVID-19.

How Does Automation Help in Times of Crisis

Organizations that have implemented automation previous to this crisis will likely have an easier time dealing with all the nuances of setting up remote work, keep up with similar levels of productivity by relying on automated back office activities, helping overwhelmed customer support staff with attended automation or front office bots, catering to the increase or decrease of supply chain demand, and many other ways that can help them weather these turbulent times with the help of automated business processes.

Public sector institutions can also leverage automation to distribute funds to those in need more efficiently, automating qualification and validation processes, updating public health data in real-time, scraping online inventories, etc.

Schools and universities can automate their class scheduling, activate in bulk licensing of remote video conference tools for online classes, distributing relevant resources for international students, etc.

People are also able to create automations to help cope with new challenges in personal needs, such as monitoring the local groceries inventories, automatically ordering items once it’s back in stock, helping with childcare activities, receiving automated updates on travel restrictions, etc.

Specific Use Cases to Address the COVID-19 Crisis

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is being proven in real-time as a vital tool to navigate the current global health crisis, with bots being deployed for specific use cases that are helping organizations tackle rising challenges caused by COVID-19.

Here are some of the RPA use cases that our partner, UiPath identified for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Help accelerate COVID-19 testing with the help of attended robots.
  • Automate test results reporting to the CDC data platform.
  • Help organizations with the influx in product demand orders.
  • Aid airlines with attended automations to relieve the contact centers that are overwhelmed by cancellation requests.
  • Help ensure business continuity to the hard-hit travel industry with attended and unattended automations.
  • Help process the extreme spikes in transactions in the current volatile global markets.
  • Monitor the health status of an organization's workforce that is widely distributed using a health screening bot. (Learn more about this screening bot below)
  • Help an organization asses its risk levels by compiling detailed daily reports with the latest information tailored to the organization's needs.
  • Reducing the overhead in monitoring employee health
  • Robots ordering kits to enable staff to work from home
  • Automation to facilitate authorization of employee travel
  • Processing food stamp applications as demand spikes
  • Centralizing data from areas impacted by COVID-19
  • Accelerating healthcare hiring
  • Setting up remote work stations
  • Managing the safe return of people back to COVID-19 free areas
  • Enabling procurement to manage the influx of medical supply orders
  • Speeding up patient diagnosis
  • Deploying robots to handle the surge in mortgage hold requests

Learn more about each of the use cases mentioned above in this video from UiPath: 

RPA use cases for Cov19

Changes to Automated Processes

As we face a unprecedented crisis, companies need to be cognizant of the large number of disruptions that business processes will endure, and modify existing automations to accommodate those changes in a timely matter.

"In times of crisis like this, organizations go through a lot of change, so you have to keep that in mind when designing your automations, and make sure that the design is going to be diverse enough to be adapted to any change in processes." Says Danilo McGarry, one of the world's leading Automation & Innovation thought leaders.

Although automation can be a great competitive differentiator, if not maintained properly, organizations can risk significant down-time as well. To mitigate those risks, as soon as changes to a process are identified, the automation team need to adapt their original automation design to cater to the new process workflows, so they can continue to uplift their operations without affecting business continuity. Experienced service providers can help plan and execute these measures properly to minimize damages, you can book a consultation with one of our experts here.

Prebuilt Tools to Help Navigate Today’s Public Health Crisis 

A tool that is ready for the world to use today comes from our partner UiPath, with their new UiPath Health Screening Bot, a tool that is already in use in several APAC countries.

The Health Screening robot was created leveraging the experience of applying Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to solve challenging business and social problems. It is a tool designed to make companies' health checks less tedious.

How does it work

The robot sends and collects surveys through software and can be used and customized by human resources (HR) personnel to adapt to their company's needs. If there is no customization required there are ready-to-go templates that can be implemented with ease. This robot assists organizations with limited resources that are geographically dispersed, allowing them to benefit from a quick implementation.

Automation vs. health crisis 

The Health Screening robot provides a solution to workplaces in the APAC region, where many organizations have mandated that their employees stay home to minimize contact and therefore minimize the spread of the virus.

In states like California and New York mandates and stay-at-home orders have been issued, restricting citizens from going outside for all non-essential activities, forcing the the majority to work from home.

With the COVID-19 pandemic the term "home office" takes on a new key role in helping companies navigate this global health crisis. To keep track of employees' health at a distance can be taxing and demanding for the HR department, especially in medium to large companies.

This is where the robot can take over to alleviate pressure in the HR department, the robot sends out a survey and keeps track of who has and hasn't completed it. The bot will also take the initiative to do a follow up every hour via different communications tools that organizations use like Slack, WeChat, and WhatsApp.

With it being an automated robot, the health status of all employees is recorded in a systematic way. For example, the robot will alert employers to any personnel with abnormal body temperatures, allowing companies to manage and give a solution to the situation quickly.

Organized Data vs. Health Crisis 

The robot will create a data summary report every day, this report will have easy-to-read visuals that will help the HR staff take action faster..

Implementing the Health Screening robot is to simplify proactive health measures for companies, allowing them to focus on other key areas that are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic like the welfare of employees and the company's operations

When companies use robots to save time on tedious and redundant tasks, they free up staff that can help organizations navigate hard times like the ones we are living today. RPA is meant to keep people and companies active and productive during turbulent times.

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JOLT is a specialized Robotic Process Automation (RPA) services provider, we can help you and your company navigate the nuances of adapting to a new business reality and setting up an digital-first enterprise.

Contact us to talk to a specialist today about your automation questions and goals, book a free consultation here.

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