RPA: What you need to know
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an important component of the ‘Future of Work’ toolkit. Many large organizations have big teams working on RPA even as many others are waiting for others to realize benefits before they jump in. This is precisely what happens when a disruptive technology comes to the fore. Risk averse organizations wait and watch.
The objective of this blog is to walk the reader through a basic understanding of RPA, it’s use cases, and points to consider before they make a decision of RPA. RPA is defined by the Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA) as ‘the application of technology allowing employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.’
RPA offers a quick and simple way to improve any repetitive, process-oriented and time-consuming tasks.
Let’s get into the details.
How is it Different from Traditional Automation
Isn’t automation overtly talked already? How is RPA different?
RPA works on the user interface layer. It sits on top of an organization’s existing IT infrastructure and doesn’t care about what that is. In other words, RPA is technology agnostic and works across legacy, Mainframes, ERPs, custom applications, etc. If a human can use a system, in all certainty, it can be used by RPA bot. RPA offers ease of usage and debugging. The RPA programs are simpler and user-friendly and easier for a new analyst to understand. So, cost of resource replacement is low and so is the risk to the business. RPA doesn’t have complex integration codes to be written. This results in faster implementation, shorter break-even periods, and higher return on investments (ROIs) Most RPA solutions have inbuilt OCR – Optical Character Recognition Capabilities. Isn’t that one of those much vouched for the capability we all need for businesses to operate electronically? Not to mention the AI capabilities of some RPA bots. With the help of artificial intelligence, these bots learn on their own and make less or no mistakes over a period. None of the traditional automation software offers that capability.
Benefits of RPA
- Reduce Human Error – RPA reduces the chances of mistakes made by employees performing mundane tasks like data entry, meaning less operational risk
- Improve Customer Interaction – Using RPA for routine manual tasks frees up your workforce to focus more of their energy on ensuring your customers are happy
- Better Workflow Processes – RPA bots are capable of performing defined tasks error-free, meaning their output is more accurate and of a higher standard than human counterparts
- No New Hardware – Implementing RPA bots doesn’t require any new investment in your systems, so there’s no need to be concerned about any upheaval
- Reduce Cost – Bots complete jobs faster and cost significantly less than a full-time employee. The worker who is freed up by the bot can now be utilized in a more cost-effective manner performing a task that needs a human touch
- Speed – Consider how long it takes for a human to fill out a data sheet. An RPA bot can do it in a fraction of time. Over months or years, that’s a substantial amount of time and money saved
- Flexibility – RPA bots can be programmed to perform virtually any manual, repetitive, clerical task
- Scalability – RPA can be scaled up and down with ease, for example companies can make seasonal adjustments based on demand
Development of Robotic Process Automation
The term “Robotic Process Automation” can be dated to do the early 2000. It is a developing technology as it is still depended on its previous technologies. RPA is now enhancing the capabilities of its previous technologies and using them in the IT industry in a better way.
Unlike its preceding technologies it is not dependent on coding. Rather it allows the user to use its drag and drop features to create automation software’s and manages them. This gives the user a flexibility of managing the software even without any coding knowledge.
Many of the Robotic Process Automation software make use of optical character recognition (OCR) technology to understand the changing websites. This eliminates the need for human intervention.
Future of Robotic Process Automation
The future of Robotic Process Automation is very bright as it transforms the business activities and streamlines the process of many big companies.
According to McKinsey, automation technologies such as Robotic Process Automation will have an economic impact of nearly $6.7 trillion by 2025. With these statistics, it’s definite that Robotic Process Automation is growing rapidly and is going to become one of the leading technological platforms for a positive business outcome.
Industry analysts expect that Robotic Process Automation software’s will be combined with technologies machine learning and cognitive computing to provide better solutions to the industry. This has great potential to make organizations more active and productive, which is very important in today’s global and competitive marketplaces.
RPA is also widely used in many industry specific solutions to automate the mundane and repeated tasks. For an example, there are many strong use cases to utilize the power of RPA in procurement industry. More here on a blog post from Fairmarkit.
Tips for Success in Robotic Process Automation
For a smooth and successful implementation of Robotic Process Automation, it is necessary that a through selection of the process to be automated is done. At the same time, it is very essential that all the people of the business, IT and Robotic Process Automation work as a team. Here is a list of certain important things that should be kept in mind, while going for Robotic Process Automation, in order to make it successful.
- Analyze And Choose The Correct Process For Automation
For an effective Robotic Process Automation, such processes should be chosen which are repetitive, rule-based, high in volume and that don’t require human intervention for making decisions. This can be a challenging task in itself because choosing an inefficient process to automate will only speed up the inefficiency.
- Get The Support Of Your Stakeholders
The idea Robotic Process Automation adoption does not come from inside the organization but from outside business units like the consultants. Hence, for this idea to be successful, it is necessary that support must be gained from the stakeholders inside the organization like the CEO, IT head, etc. This is so because none of the Robotic Process Automation software will be able to run without the permission and help of the IT department. Since no robot can work without a PC, a user account or access to an application. The entire infrastructure has to be provided by the IT department. So keep these people in confidence and also try to communicate the benefits that the IT department is likely to get from this technology. Sharing success stories through regular communication helps in creating enthusiasm among the people.
- Communicate Regularly With IT Department
Communicating with the IT department should be on a regular basis.This will help the Robotic Process Automation team in delivering the new Robotic Process Automation process. The IT team can provide real support to them at various stages of development. For example: – they can provide access to test environment, help in giving permissions within an application, etc. Staying in contact with the IT development is very important in order to ensure smooth delivery of the new Robotic Process Automation process.
- Prepare A Clear Strategy For The Usage Of Robotic Process Automation Within The Company
There is always a risk of failure if there is no clear strategy regarding how Robotic Process Automation is going to be deployed and utilized. One should have a clear vision about the use of Robotic Process Automation so that the correct Robotic Process Automation software is chosen to fulfill the needs of many departments. The software should also fully integrate into the existing It infrastructure and solutions so that there is no conflict of technologies.
- Keep The Expectation Realistic
Robotic Process Automation is only a tool and not a magic solution to every business problem. Still there are situations where there is a need of human interventions in order to manage the problem. So thinking that RPA software implementation can take the place of human beings completely is a far-fetched dream. Hence we should keep our expectations regarding Robotic Process Automation.
- Calculate The Hidden Costs Of Robotic Process Automation
There is always an initial expenditure while implementing Robotic Process Automation and keeping it operational. Hence make budget for each of its stages. Also make provisions for the IT infrastructure like databases, machines, etc and IT resource time to implement Robotic Process Automation. Include additional consultancy costs, if any, from partner companies. You have to also take into account the salary cost of any additional post created due to Robotic Process Automation implementation. All of this needs to be included in the cost for implementation of RPA. If all this is within the budget of the company then only it should proceed for Robotic Process Automation implementation or not.
RPA Platform Comparison
|Community Version||Only licensed version is available||Only licensed version is available||Both community & licensed versions are available||Both community & licensed versions are available|
|Enterprise Version Trial||14 Days||Not available for trial||45 Days||30 Days|
|Market Trend||Preference for existing Appian cloud customers||Preference for big enterprises as it has good scalability, execution speed & trustworthy||Preference for small organizations as it has lot of funtionality & good scalability||Preference for individuals who are starting with RPA as easier to learn|
|Based Technologies||Java||C#||.NET & Java||VB script, C#, .NET|
|Architecture Type||Client-Server Based Architecture with a web console available in Appian environment||Client-Server Based Architecture||Client-Server Based Architecture||Web-based Orchestrator|
|Process Designer||Process skeleton can be created using drag-drop but node configuration requires Java coding||Visual process based||Developer Friendly (Script-Based)||User-Friendly with Drag-Drop Functionalities|
|Programming Skills||Moderate Level – Required to create methods and logics||Moderate Level – Required to manage business objects||Beginner Level – Required to use activities||Doesn’t require coding just need basic visual skills|
|Accessibility||Browser Accessiblity||Application Based||Application Based||Mobile & Browser Accessibility|
|Re-usability||RPA process can be resued and called in Appian using integration objects||Libraries can be resued with other process||Blocks are created using smart adapters||Projects are grouped together as library|
|Recorders||No Recorders Available||No Recorders Available||Basic & Macro Recorders||Basic & Macro Recorders|
|Robots||Front & Back Office Automations (Attended & Unattended) with Best-in-class human-in-the-loop capabilities to handle exceptions and ad-hoc activities, fast.||Only Back Office Automation (Unattended)||Front & Back Office Automations (Attended & Unattended)||Front & Back Office Automations (Attended & Unattended)|
|Accuracy||Reasonable across mediums||Desktop Web & Citrix Automation||Reasonable across mediums||Citrix Automation designed for BPO|
|Operational Scalability||Claims to centrally manage, monitor, and deploy bots across the organization to increase scale and performance.||Good & High Execution Speed||Limited large scale robot deployment||Crashes in medium level project|
|Community & Support||Offers community & support to post technical queries 24 x 7||Offers community & support to post technical queries 24 x 7||Offers community & support to post technical queries 24 x 7||Offers community & support to post technical queries 24 x 7|
|Certification||None yet||Official paid associate, professional & architect level certifications are available||Official certifications available for $50 (advanced) & $100 (master)||Official paid associate & advanced level certifications are available|
|Pricing||$5000 per month for unlimited bots||Per bot pricing based on a custom quote||Per bot pricing based on a custom quote. Starts at $750/month for limited bots||Per bot pricing based on a custom quote. Starts at $3999 per year per user for limited bots|
|Security||Simplified access and adoption of RPA with Appian’s globally available and highly secure cloud with many security certifications||Provides features like infratuctural security, centrally managed user access control, systemized activity logging, Irrefutable audit trsil||Provides features like Fine-grained RBAC, Bank-grade encryption & complete audit trails||Built with defense-grade security and auditing including role-based access control (RBAC), Encryption Everywhere, and Veracode certified code|
|Pre-requisites||Appian cloud environment||None||None||None|
|Operating System||Can run on Windows, Linux & MacOS out of the box||Windows only||Windows only||Windows only|
|Capture Video & Screenshots||Yes, it can capture both videos & screenshots while the bots are executing||Exception/failure stages can be configured to save a screen capture. Videos can’t be recorded out of the box||Exception/failure stages can be configured to save a screen capture. Videos can’t be recorded out of the box||Has an activity to capture screenshots but can’t record videos of bot execution out of the box|
With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and RPA,new job profiles will be created. People should not worry and think that jobs will be on the decline due to automation rather on the contrary these will open doors for re-skilling of man power. Now people have to focus more on super specialization in their particular field of work in order to succeed.