What is Robot Process Automation? Everything You Need to Know About RPA

Imagine sitting in your office, going about your usual day, having a long list of tasks to complete, along with menial back-end tasks that involve a lot of simple copy-pasting or just documentation work. With increasing concerns about finding ways to improve efficiency and getting more work done, have we found a solution?

Here’s the deal, RPA or Robot Process Automation is a technology that is increasingly being embraced by organizations to streamline operational processes and automate certain rule-based tasks. It is said to reduce costs, and reduce workload without making a company increase/reduce its headcount. The technology also promises more efficiency and accuracy as it relies less on the human workforce to complete daily, mundane tasks.

What is RPA?

Robot process automation is a technology designed to automate regular input-based business operations by configuring software robots or bots. These bots utilize the user interface to emulate a human working within digital systems, create a path to capture data, manipulate applications, and complete a business process. These bots are better in efficiency and accuracy as compared to their human counterparts.

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Architecture of RPA

The RPA architecture comprises several tools, platforms and infrastructural elements that help create, design and execute these bots.

RPA Tool

This tool is responsible for a variety of functions performed by bots. This is a comprehensive list of functions the RPA tool performs –

  1. Reading and/or writing data from different sources for the purpose of execution of bots.
  2. It allows for the building of shared applications and data repositories along with user interface object stores.
  3. It allows for automation on different sources, namely – Desktop, Windows, Web, Citric, etc
  4. It enables the development of software bots, that can be trained through recordings, configurations and altering programming.

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RPA Platform

RPA platform acts as a central resource repository for all RPA data, software bots, and resources that are created using the RPA tool. Reusable robotic components library, input/output data files, rather anything created using the RPA tools can be shared on the RPA platform, which is a part of cloud storage.  This data will be available as a resource to everyone from the team.

RPA Execution Infrastructure

This is a physical bank of virtual or physical machines that are run on varied configurations of user patterns. These can be scaled up or down through these user patterns for automating said tasks. Since this tool does not require much human intervention, it is usually left alone.

Configuration Management

This tool determines the version of RPA assets as an underlying tool. The functions of this tool comprise aiding in the creation and updating of the bots to newer versions. They are also branched or merged with the help of this tool in case they are being reused.

RPA Life Cycle

Analysis

The very first step in the RPA cycle involves the customer realizing that they need RPA in their organization. With the help of an RPA architect and technical team, the task is analyzed and evaluated to gauge, whether an automatic process can be created out if this or not. After due consideration of the costs involved, and the time that will be taken to produce the said RPA, the task is designed.

Development

After considering various factors and designing the RPA, the development process commences. The process might or might not involve coding, and will either be designed by developers or testers based on that.

Testing

Once the development phase is over, the testing phase begins. Thorough testing happens right from the very first step to the last step of the automation process until everything happens smoothly.

Benefits of RPA

GUI and no coding

RPA doesn’t really require coding knowledge. So, in an organization looking to automate clerical processes, the employees can be taught how to create bots using GUI (Graphical User Interface) or varied intuitive wizards. This ensures timely delivery of tasks, without having a very long process of creation. Besides, it also saves an organization a lot of resources with respect to training, educating and installation.

Utmost Security

The entire data on RPA which is accessed by either bots or developers of the team is designed to prevent any malicious tampering. All data that is stored for automating and executing bots is stored within a robust user access management system and can only be accessed by authorized IDs only.

Fails of RPA

Investment Costs

RPA as technology is still under development. Therefore, the costs to introduce it within daily business processes might be high at times. These costs pose a challenge for businesses whether to wait for the technology to expand or employ it immediately.

At times, integrating RPA in day-to-day activities might also lead to unforeseen outcomes, were resolving an issue in the software might take up more resources than planned or more time. This might negatively affect efficiency at the organization.

Potential job losses

A lot of employees have this perception that getting an RPA within the system might lead to a lot of lay-offs, as they fear the technology taking over their jobs. This, however, is a myth associated with RPA.  Amazon.in is the best company that puts rest to this assumption. It has recorded an increase in the employees hired, all the while increasing its bots from 1000 to 45000.

Tips for creating an effective RPA

Poor design can be a problem

In the process of creating an automated program, companies can omit to check a few things. It can also happen that once an organization has decided to get RPA, they put untimely pressure on the IT team to deliver it. Such lapses can later cost the company a great deal.

In cases where either the planning hasn’t been done properly or internal configuration between bots isn’t properly done, the RPA designed will lead to problems, one day. So, proper preparation of the development plan has to be a priority for robotic automation.

Similarly, configurations of different segments of the tasks and coordination between the bots have to be a primary requirement for an excellent RPA to work without glitches.

Project Governance and Monitoring is essential

You can’t just create bots in an RPA and then set them free without any governance or control. A lot of people can have access to the same data and bots, in order to reflect a change at different checkpoints, that data has to be updated throughout the system.

For instance, if the password of a program has changed, it has to be changed across all systems, otherwise, it can lead to significant problems with regards to accessing data.

RPA as a term started doing rounds in the 2000s, and it is a fast-growing technology now. It is safe to say, that it is here to stay and for long. For any organization that has integrated RPA in its processes, it has led to faster and more efficient solutions with an incremental increase in profitability.

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Wrapping up

The technology allows for greater flexibility and scalability within the organization with the lesser turnaround time for completion of tasks. These bots created in the RPA are easy to train. The more an organization depends on them, the higher is the possibility of uniform processes and accurate business predictability.

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