RPA Tutorial: What is RPA? | How it Works, Features, RPA Tools And Applications 2020

RPA Tutorial: This tutorial will help you to kick start your learning skills on RPA(Robotic Process Automation) from scratch.

As the world devotes itself to the use of technologies, automation has improved the way we promote our work. The word automation was created in the 1950s, but few really understand its meaning. So, in this RPA Tutorial blog, we’ll discuss what exactly is RPA, what is the automation of robotic processes, and various factors.

In this RPA Tutorial blog, We are going to cover.


Continue reading RPA Tutorial for clear information.



What is RPA?

RPA (Robotic process automation) is known as the process of utilizing the software with the capabilities of machine learning and artificial intelligence for handling repeatable, high-volume tasks that were previously done by humans. 

RPA enables an organization to implement the technology at a fast pace efficiently and quickly without changing the existing infrastructure. An RPA software robot never makes any errors, and costs less when compared to the salary paid to an employee. Some of the everyday tasks that RPA robots can automate are as follows:

  1. HR operations.
  2. Payrolls.
  3. Invoice processing.
  4. Accounts payable.
  5. Expenses.
  6. Change of address.
  7. Name and details of customers, and so on.



Why do we Need RPA?

With continuous changes concerning the business environment, an enterprise or company must continuously come up with a new product or change its existing product, marketing, and sales to progress and stay relevant according to market demands. An enterprise that often uses distributed IT systems, to run several operations depends upon human resources, as it is very much difficult to change the IT software systems frequently, with respect to the implementation complexity issues, budget, and timing. 

So, to reduce these types of manual operations, RPA(Robotic Process Automation) is used to automate the tasks as a human. Robotic process automation interacts with the existing IT software architecture without the integration of complex systems. It is not a replacement for the business applications, but simply automates the manual tasks of human workers.  



RPA Implementation Methodology

Following are the steps involved in the implementation of RPA:

  • Planning.
  • Development.
  • Testing.
  • Support and Management.


Planning

In this step, we need to identify the process that we want to automate. To continue this phase, the following is the checklist to determine the exact procedure.

  • Is it possible to use the existing system without any changes?
  • Check out whether the Input data is in readable electronic format?
  • Does the process follow a rule-based approach?
  • Know whether the process is manual or repetitive?

Once the checklist is clear, we can begin the planning phase. As follows:

  • Pick up the solution that is designed to start the RPA processes.
  • Setup implementation timelines, gather project deployment team, and the method to approach.
  • Use appropriate login methods that must be used in identifying errors while debugging the bots.
  • A bright outlook should be defined to set up RPA implementation.


Development

In this step, we start developing the automation workflows as per the accepted solution. Using wizard-driven, the implementation is quick and easy.


Testing

In this step, we run the test cases for in-scope Automation to identify and correct the errors.


Support and Maintenance

In this step, we need to provide continuous support after launching and guide them towards the solution. The roles and responsibilities of business and IT support teams follow general maintenance rules.

Related Articles: Blue Prism vs Automation Anywhere



RPA System Features:

Robotic process automation (RPA) is vast, and there are different RPA tools available in the market. These tools differ based on their strengths and weaknesses. The following are various RPA tools currently in use.


1. Rich-analytical Suite

RPA software is provided with a rich-analytical suite that is capable of identifying the performance of the robot workforce. Most of the organizational level RPA manages and monitors automated functions via a central console. 

The console can be handled from anywhere and offers necessary measures on servers, robots, workflows, etc. The detailed operation analysis helps not only to determine issues but also enables the users to track the operations and eases future workloads. Since everything is inbuilt, the solution RPA doesn’t require any integration, as all are set right out of the box.


2. Security 

If an enterprise runs on Automation, all the RPA users will reasonably demand access to the RPA product. It is difficult to have robust user access management features. Hence, RPA tools are capable of ensuring action specific permissions with role-based security. 

Also, many RPA tools enable the customization of encryption and configuration capabilities for safeguarding particular data types to act at the time of interruption in network communication. 

The entire automated audits, instructions, and data accessed by the bot are encrypted to avoid the authority of historical record compliance and malicious tampering. The organizational RPA solutions offer detailed users’ login records along with tasks they execute.


3. Simple Bot Creation Interface

GUI and RPA tools allow creating bots effortlessly and quickly by capturing keystrokes and mouse clicks, which are built-in like screen recorder components. Using the Task Editor, many RPA products have an option to edit and create new bots manually.


4. Source Control

Secure storage of each version of a process in progress to avoid the risk of being erased or deleted. This method enables developers to analyze the difference between versions of a particular process to find what has changed. 

Similarly, the control room component in RPA products allows administering users and roles, maintaining a log of the user and bot activities, handling bot’s versions, and scheduling bots. This component can offer control and account management over the RPA platform, including schedules, bots, users, and clients. It also acts as the control for both implementation and single-point-of-access.


5. Hosting and Deployment Option

RPA offers a customer-level implementation across terminal services, cloud, and virtual machines. Other implementation options include: The cloud implementation attracts the customers for its flexibility and scalability. In addition to this, the RPA system is capable of automatically deploying bots in sets of hundreds. 

This feature includes an agentless configuration and actively eliminates the central server updates and synchronization errors and runtime by securing bot deployment overlap and client configuration. Hence, organizations can install RPA tools and deploy it on servers and desktops to access data to complete tasks. Similarly, for processing of high volume data, RPA tools allow multiple bots to run on different platforms and also works within a single process.


6. Rules-based Exception Handling

RPA system follows rules-based exception handling to deploy bots. This feature of the RPA tool handles the exception in a dedicated manner. For example, if a robot reports an exception, the following actions are encountered: 

The server re-assigns the same process to another bot to retry and remove the first bot.

In case the retry is successful, the server retains the reassignment and alerts to report solutions for an exception.

If the retry is unsuccessful, it alerts to report exception for failed resolution, and it stops the second bot.


7. Debugging

RPA is capable of going through a process and adjusting dynamically, and this is the most significant benefit from a development perspective. Some RPA tools need to stop running to change processes or replicate the process while the other RPA tools allow instant interaction while debugging. 

Dynamic changing of variable values is tested with different test cases when bots are continually running. This progressive approach of debugging helps to resolve issues and deployment in a production environment without any changes to the process.


8. Less Script or Script Less Automation

The new RPA tools are code-free and can automate any application that admin or cleric performs across an organization. Thus, employees with low programming skills can create bots, just via intuitive wizards and Graphical User Interface (GUI). 

This code-free development platform reduces the complicated, hand-written code and accelerates the delivery of business applications, and also reduces training, the initial cost of installation, and deployment.


9. Seamless Integration

In the digital infrastructure of businesses, the core organizational RPA integrates with various third-party applications. With the ease in integration, RPA tools provide unique flexibility in figuring out the performance digital workforce.


10. Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is a new trend in the Robotic Process Automation platform today. So, RPA vendors started to expand the capability of the RPA portfolio right from including more uncomplicated data extraction from texts, images, and documents to advanced OCR. 

The standard feature of RPA tools is a screen scraping, i.e., capturing bitmap data from the system and cross-checking it with stored details to decipher the cipher data for quality control. This can be obtained by integrating with OCR engines such as Microsoft or Google. OCR with RPA initiatives that customers require is rating generators, tax forms, invoices, and claim processing.

 
11. Actionable Intelligence

The ability to apply knowledge and gain skills is actionable intelligence. Bots receive both unstructured and structured data. That data is converted into information and further transformed into actionable intelligence for customers. 

RPA involves cognitive Automation, computer visions, and machine learning to support bots to improve decision making. Therefore, most RPA functionalities can be automated without extra extensions.



Factors to look for in RPA software:

Robotic Process Automation is useful for both large and small industries. Figuring out the right product for a particular company is not easy. Following 11 features will help us in selecting the right product of RPA for a specific company:


1. Ease of Use

First of all, we need a Robotic Process Automation product that should be easy and efficient for our employees to use. Otherwise, it is useless to choose from. Check out for a software provider who has experience in RPA real-time implementation who can offer either a demo or a free trial period.


2. Core Developer Capabilities

Robotic Process Automation products should essentially run complex codes behind the scenes. The product should have reliable back-end developers with the following core capabilities:

  • It should be able to integrate easily with other software platforms.
  • Must have out-of-the-box functionalities.
  • Ability to support an extensive range of inputs and outputs like Xls files, email, text, etc.
  • The software provider should continuously support the software.


3. Scalability

The most important feature a Robotic Process Automation must have is scalability. RPA must be scalable for an enterprise to adapt to the continually changing needs of their workforce effectively. There is a need for a capability to scale up when there is a demand for an increase in output and back down when there is no demand is what we require.


4. Analytics

A right RPA product can analyze, collect, and organize the workflow method to identify the areas where changes can or should be implemented. This allows an enterprise to optimize operational efficiency.


5. Multi-Faceted

Lastly, a quality RPA product should be functional on both the technical side and the end-user side. As an enterprise, we decide to choose the more essential areas to adapt to our evaluation. But, both sides should always be considered as part of the selection process.

Finally, our decision to select the right RPA product will depend on various circumstances, in particular, which are unique to our business standards. 

The above five criteria are a must to at least provide us an idea or a start point (on what to build).



Parameters to select Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools

Robotic Process Automation tools are chosen based on four parameters:

  1. Interoperability: Tools that can work across multiple platforms.
  2. Data: Reading and writing data related to business into multiple systems must be secure.
  3. Type of Task to be performed: Configuring rules or knowledge processes should be easy.
  4. AI: AI support to mimic human users must be built-in.


RPA Tutorial: Top RPA Tools

To automate the manual tasks of human workers ranging from simple form fills to complex testing works, we need a Robotic process Automation tool. Using the below-mentioned tools will ease the process of Automation. The following are some of the top RPA tools currently used in the market.

  • Blue prism 
  • UiPath
  • Automation AnyWhere


Blue prism: “Blue Prism” is built on Microsoft Dot Net Framework. This tool is capable of automating any platform like Java, Windows, etc. It supports multiple deployment models, such as testing, development, and production. It’s one of the leading tools as it requires no coding knowledge, and it is designed with Visual Designer. 


UiPath: “UIPath” is another leading tool currently used in the market. It is a user-friendly automation tool that is license-free, with drag and drops workflow. This tool helps organizations to efficiently automate business processes with some knowledge on Microsoft Dot Net. 


Automation Anywhere: “Automation Anywhere” is user friendly and one of the most popular RPA automation tools. It is a developer tool that is used mainly in script-based applications. So, you need to have a little knowledge of JavaScript Frameworks. It supports the API level of Automation.


RPA Tutorial: Benefits of RPA 

The Benefits of using Robotic Process Automation tools are as follows.

  1. Enables better customer service by ensuring business operations and processes with proper standards and regulations, allowing processes to complete more rapidly.
  2. Provides efficiency by digitizing the processed data through auditing and creates cost savings for manual and repetitive tasks by enabling employees to be more productive
  3. Frees humans from every day, less productive tasks such as filling forms, and then makes sure that they are available for highly skilled functions that humans need for decision making, creativity, ingenuity, and ensures the outputs are complete, accurate, and consistent between tasks.
  4. Completes the tasks more quickly and effectively, and can find, retrieve any required data in the background.
  5. On average, humans can work up to 10 hours a day, whereas robots can work 24 hours without getting tired.
  6. The average productivity of humans is about 50%, along with a few errors when compared to a robot’s productivity, which is nearly 100% without errors.


RPA Tutorial: Disadvantages of RPA

Some cons of the Robotic Process Automation process are as follows:

  1. Software is limited according to the speed of the application
  2. Even with a tiny change in the automation application, robots have to be reconfigured.


Applications of RPA

The following are some of the major industries where Robotic Process Automation is applied:

  1. Healthcare: All hospitals make use of RPA for patient registration and billing purposes.
  2. HR: Many industries use RPA for HR activities like new employees joining formalities, payroll process, and hiring shortlisted candidates.
  3. Insurance: To claim processing and clearance of premium information.
  4. Manufacturing & Retail: Bills of material and calculation of sales.
  5. Telecom: Service order management and quality reporting.
  6. Travel & Logistic: Ticket bookings, passenger details, and accounting.
  7. Banking and Financial Services: Cards activation, fraud claims, and discovery.
  8. Government: Change of address and license renewal activities are made easy.
  9. Infrastructure: Issues in processing account setup and communication.


Future Scope of RPA 

In the upcoming years, the Robotic Process Automation will redefine and step into the level of digital transformation. It may deliver in-depth personalization to attain prioritizing customer satisfaction by giving them higher quality experience and faster product delivery offerings at great convenience.

Here are a few significant automation predictions that can redefine digital transformation over the years are as follows:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) slowly merges with RPA and delivers advanced integrated business values. 
  • Conversational Interfaces (CI) used by Consumers will continue to grow.
  • RPA’s next target is Chatbots. 

Shortly, we can witness voice-enabled products become a criterion in the industry.

Conclusion: 

The utilization of Robotic Process Automation is significantly increasing its market worldwide. Most of the fortune500 Companies have already started implementing the RPA to optimize the usage of other resources as it is cost-effective and is least affected by errors.

Recently, all the top companies started using Robotic Process Automation tools for testing a specific application as old testing tools have certain limitations. For example, the Selenium testing tool. Very soon, RPA tools get popular and may take over the characteristics of AI tools along with BPM (Business Process Management) tools. They may become more efficient in analyzing a statement of a particular customer request and recommend any discount if applicable.

We hope you enjoyed with above RPA Tutorial information. If you think anything is missing in RPA Tutorial, please let us know your opinion in the comment section below.

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About Akshay Kumar Kothuri

Akshay Kumar Kothuri was born and brought up in Hyderabad. He works as an AI developer and Speaker for many technical events like Workshops, Hackathons, and Faculty Development Programs conducted across India. He is passionate about exploring the latest technologies and innovations in the field of Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Chatbots, IoT, Embedded Systems, Data analytics, Vmware, and other competing technologies in software. He has good working knowledge and experience in AI-related systems. He holds a Master's degree in Embedded systems from VITS. Follow him on LinkedIn. You can also contact him at kothuriakshay94@gmail.com
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