What is RPA: An Introduction and Career Possibilities

The term “automation” is one of the most widely used terms today. It’s not only a widely used term—automation is a core part of nearly every enterprise IT strategy. Basically, growth in the use of automation technologies has catapulted to whole new levels. 

Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is one such contribution to the ever-growing automation industry. In this article, we’ll acquaint you with the following topics:

  • What is RPA? 
  • What RPA is not
  • RPA features 
  • RPA benefits 
  • RPA services
  • How does RPA work? 
  • RPA software tools 
  • RPA growth projections

Let’s start by defining RPA and understand what it is. 

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What is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation is the use of software with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. Some of these tasks include:

  • Addressing queries
  • Making calculations
  • Maintaining records
  • Making transactions 

There’s a common misconception that automation is equivalent to robotic process automation, but this isn’t the case as traditional automation and RPA are different in many aspects.

rpa

Traditional automation involves programming application programming interfaces (APIs) and integration tools to integrate different systems. The RPA developer must have a good understanding of the target system. 

On the other hand, robotic process automation mimics the actions of a user at the user interface (UI) level. As long as the bot can follow the steps, the developer doesn’t need to worry about the underlying complexities. 

Consider the process of onboarding a new recruit in a company. Data from several systems must be coordinated to create a new user account, email address, access rights, document retrieval, etc. With Robotic Process Automation, the user account can automatically activate a template for the onboarding workflow. 

RPA can help assess, prepare, and create new employee data, initiate mailing of offer letters, and streamline information across the systems. 

Prior to robotic process automation, it would take a few hours to complete the onboarding formalities. Post RPA, however, the entire process could be done in a matter of a few minutes. This results in the following: 

  • Automation can improve processes by to 100 percent
  • Processing becomes 10 times faster
  • Accuracy increases to 100 percent

Global IT firms use RPA to automate their onboarding processes with the help of vendors like UiPath. 

If you want to learn more about robotic process automation and advanced intelligent applications, watch this “What is RPA” video to put you on the fast track. Get an overview of RPA concepts, the value-add it brings with relevant business use cases, and an understanding of the tools used.

What RPA is Not?

When you hear the term automation, you might think of a robot doing its job without any human intervention. And yes, you’re partially right. However, you could have a few misconceptions, such as:

  • RPA is not a humanoid robot and doesn’t exist physically 
  • RPA bots cannot entirely replace humans
  • RPA bots do not possess logical thinking or decision making skills, which is why they cannot replicate human cognitive functions 

RPA Features 

  • Rich analytical suite - RPA monitors and manages automated functions from a central console. This console can be accessed from anywhere and offers basic metrics on robots, servers, workflows, and more.
  • Simple creation of bots - RPA tools enables the quick creation of bots by capturing mouse clicks and keystrokes with built-in screen recorder components.
  • Scriptless automation - RPA tools are code-free and can automate any application in any department. Users with less programming skills can create bots through an intuitive GUI.
  • Security - RPA tools enable the configuration and customization of encryption capabilities to secure certain data types to defend against the interruption of network communication. 
  • Hosting and deployment - RPA systems can automatically deploy bots in groups of hundreds. Hence, RPA bots can be installed on desktops and deployed on servers to access data for repetitive tasks.
  • Debugging - Some RPA tools need to stop running to rectify the errors while other tools allow dynamic interaction while debugging. This is one of the most powerful features of RPA.
Master RPA process and RPA design using the advanced UiPath platform with the Robotic Process Automation certification training course.

RPA Benefits 

  • Reduces cost - One of the important advantages of RPA is the quick reduction in the cost. By automating tasks, an organization can save up to 30 percent of their total costs because software robots also cost less than a full-time employee.
  • Reduces operational risks - Some companies prefer to outsource busy work to third party organizations, and this comes with the risk of human errors and inefficiency. RPA offers a better solution—because the work stays in-house, there is less operational risk. 
  • Quality and accuracy - Processes with a high risk of human error can be automated using RPA systems. These bots are reliable, consistent, and can work tirelessly.
  • Scalability - With the help of RPA, companies can make adjustments based on other crucial factors and can easily scale up or down operations as needed. 
  • Reduced workload - Automating tasks like report-making can significantly reduce the workload on employees, allowing them to focus on other critical tasks.
  • Improved customer satisfaction - Since accuracy is maintained and operational risk is minimal, customers are provided with quality content.
  • Improved business results - Since employees are focusing on activities that add more value to the company, robotic process automation improves results that can be automated. 

Types of RPA 

autonomous-rpa

Unattended/Autonomous RPA

Ideal for reducing work like completing data processing tasks in the background. They don’t require any human intervention. These bots can be launched using: 

  1. Specified intervals
  2. Bot initiated
  3. Data input

attended-rpa

Attended RPA

These bots live on the user’s machine and are triggered by the user. They can be launched using:

  1. When embedded on an employee’s device
  2. Auto-run based on certain conditions
  3. RPA client tool

hybrid-rpa.

Hybrid RPA

This is a combination of attended and autonomous bots.  

These bots address front- and back-office tasks in the enterprise. 

RPA Services

Robotic process automation helps automate strenuous and monotonous jobs. Here are 11 services offered by RPA:

  1. Open mail and attachments 
  2. Fill in forms and move files and folders
  3. Follow if-then decision rules
  4. Connect to system APIs
  5. Extract structured data from documents
  6. Make complex calculations
  7. Monitor manual processes and learn how to perform them
  8. Copy and paste
  9. Read and write to databases
  10. Scrape data from documents
  11. Login into web/enterprise applications

How Does RPA Work? 

Robotic process automation includes four core stages: 

  1. Planning - In this stage, the processes to be automated are defined, which includes identifying the test objects, finalizing the implementation approach, and defining a clear road map for the RPA implementation. 
  2. Design and development - In this stage, you start developing the automation workflows as per the agreed plan.
  3. Deployment and testing - This stage typically includes the execution of the bots. Any unexpected outages will be handled during the deployment. To ensure accurate functioning, testing of these bots for bugs and errors is crucial.
  4. Support and maintenance - Providing constant support help to better identify and rectify errors. 

RPA Tools  

RPA tools are the software through which one can configure tasks that need to be automated. Various tools in the market facilitate RPA, but which one do you think is the best? 

That depends on your requirements. Here’s a list of widely used tools that help to meet the objectives of RPA:

  • Blue prism
  • Automation Anywhere
  • UiPath
  • Workfusion
  • Pega
  • Redwood
  • OpenSpan

rpa-tools

Looking forward to a career as an RPA Developer? Check out the Robotic Process Automation using the UiPath Training course and get certified today.

RPA Growth Projections

growth projection

RPA services increased significantly from 2016 to 2020. 

According to Mckinsey Research, “Knowledge in work automation could have an economic impact of $5-7 trillion by the year 2025. It will touch more than 230 million knowledge workers which constitute 9% of the global workforce.” 

Any company which is labor-intensive—where people are performing high-volume, high transaction functions—will boost their capabilities and save time and money with RPA.

What Next? 

If you wish to understand robotic process automation better, check out the Simplilearn video, What is RPA? for a visual introduction.

And if you’re interested in building a career as an automation engineer, then a certification will definitely come in handy. The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) using UiPath Certification Training will build your RPA expertise from the ground up using the advanced UiPath platform. This course enhances your credibility as an experienced RPA professional, validating your ability to automate UiPath based projects. 

About the Author

Shivam AroraShivam Arora

Shivam Arora is a Senior Product Manager at Simplilearn. Passionate about driving product growth, Shivam has managed key AI and IOT based products across different business functions. He has 6+ years of product experience with a Masters in Marketing and Business Analytics.

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