Robotic Process Automation Tutorial (RPA)
What is Robotic Process Automation:
I have been researching and reading about Robotic Process Automation since 2014. In this rpa tutorial I’m going to explain all my understanding and researches about RPA in a layman’s language.
So that even the beginners who reads this tutorial will get a clear understanding about RPA basics.
Below are the topics covered in this RPA tutorial :
Robotic Process Automation or RPA (now a days for everything there is an acronym) in simple words means:
“robots are going to do the computer based tasks which are now performed by humans”.
Don’t worry not literally as in the below pic 🙂
Let me now go in detail:
- When I say robots are going to do the human tasks that doesn’t mean physical robots are going to sit infront of the computer and do the tasks, it means a software application that will replicate the actions or tasks exactly the way how a human does.
- RPA will automate low value clerical activities performed by humans. Most importantly RPA is only for clerical process automation and not for all human activities.
Now this would have suddenly rang a bell – humans are going to lose jobs!??
Answer is Not Exactly!
Ofcourse there will be some changes in the way how we have been working so far. RPA is going to open up new opportunities for human workers. Robotic Process Automation is a way of Artificial Intelligent workers performing the tasks.
We should be smart enough to find those new opportunities and prepare ourselves to grab it as and when it arises (Infact now is that right time).
Why to automate repetitive tasks/process:
When a job gets monotonous people lose interest but not robots!, then why do humans have to do those monotonous, low value adding, repetitive jobs?
Humans can do much better interesting jobs!
When something is delivered without interest, chance are more for errors. In case of robots, there is no such complications as robots don’t have interests unlike humans.
Industrial experts substantiate the automation for below reasons:
- To avoid human errors and to reduce human efforts.
- To saves time and improve productivity, accuracy and consistency.
- Enhance the business analytics and easy standardization of workflow.
- To have a frictionless delivery of tasks.
- Complete Audit trail for any kind of compliance purposes.
- Cost reduction.
Two examples from the past:
Ok! now think it in this way, when computers were introduced there were objections from many group of people around world. People were saying “computers are going to take away the human jobs” but was it so??
One of the biggest revolutions that has ever happened in the history was ‘Books to Computers’. Now I don’t have to explain anything more about the billions of opportunities computers created. How computers have changed the word!
People who were smart and fast enough to adapt to computers, grabbed the opportunities while others were busy protesting.
Opportunities didn’t stop there, it was keep flowing from then. I would want to take one more simple example from the past:
Microsoft Excel has been a fantabulous application and it’s a bread and butter for millions of people around the world. But in excel also people does monotonous, low value adding, repetitive jobs, so whats next??
They got paid well and grew in their career (me too have the similar experience) while others were still struggling with untidy monotonous jobs in Excel.
So what I’m trying to make you understand is Robotic Process Automation is one such golden opportunity!
Now lets come out of that era of Excel Formulas, Macros and VBA, world has gone further from there!
For example who likes to sit and process 100s of invoices everyday throughout their life?? No-one right!! So whats next??
RPA is going to be that change. Robots will do those kind of jobs exactly the way how a human does.
That’s why I was saying don’t worry it’s not you and me going to lose the job; it’s a bell ringing for people who are tired of doing monotonous clerical jobs. Its time for them to prepare themselves for the new opportunities.
So now you might be thinking what are those new opportunities that I keep saying and how to find those opportunities.
How Robotic Process Automation works!
First let me say the good news – RPA is Code Free! Hurrah! Yes RPA doesn’t need a single piece of code or need any programming skills to automate a process. (There are no rpa programming languages that you need to learn, however programming skills on .net or vba or any programming language will provide an added advantage, we will discuss about it in the RPA Jobs’ section below)
Then how does RPA work? – RPA works using Demonstrative Steps.
As I mentioned above it’s a way of Artificial Intelligent or rather, virtual workers performing the activities as exactly as human does.
Lets take a business process example, when a new joiner comes in the team how he/she gets trained to do a task, the same way these virtual workers also need to be trained step by step.
Who are the best people to train the new joiner? ofcourse not the IT engineers!
Its the SMEs and Process Experts.
Similarly the best people to train the RPA robots are also the Business operations people. The subject matter experts and the process experts.
The best part with virtual workers are Once trained then lifetime permanent worker, no attrition unlike human workers 🙂
Below is an example of how Robotic Process Automation works in an Order Management Process.
Top RPA Tools List (Top RPA Vendors)
Below are some of the leading Robotic Process Automation vendors providing the RPA tools to automate the processes.
The term Robotic Process Automation was invented by Blue Prism, that itself proves they are the pioneers in Robotic Process Automation software development. Blue Prism has been recognized by the American IT research and advisory company Gartner, Inc.
They already have more than 100 customers around the world and partnered with biggest giants like NHS, Accenture, Hexaware, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Capgemini, IBM etc.
- Blue Prism
Highly recommended to download the Free Brochure on Blue Prism product overview.
They are one of the most leading RPA vendors in the industry, already providing robotic process automation solutions to companies like SAP, EY, J.P.Morgan, Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, BBC etc.
Below are 3 Robotic Process Automation products provided by UiPath:
- UiPath Studio
- Front Office and Back Office – UiPath Robots
- UiPath Orchestrator
Automation Anywhere is another top RPA vendors providing powerful and user-friendly robotic process automation tools to automate tasks of any complexity. They are partnered with companies like EMC2, KPMG, Deloitte, Accenture, Genpact, Infosys etc.
Below is the robotic process automation product by Automation Anywhere:
- Automation Anywhere Enterprise
Pegasystems is a software company develop strategic applications for sales, marketing, services and operations. They have a wide variety of products designed for different industries like Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare, Communications, and Government etc.
The advantage with Pega’s robotic process automation tool is that, they already have industry leading BPM (Business Process Modeling) platforms and recently acquired OpenSpan RPA software company. Which makes Pega a complete solution, enterprises no longer have to choose between automation vs. digital transformation.
- Robotic Automation & Intelligence
Kofax is a leading software company owns the trademark for “First Mile” of customer engagement.
They have a Robotic Process Automation and Web Data Integration product called Kofax Kapow. Which is highly scalable and flexible to provide any kind of robotic automation and artificial intelligence capabilities.
- Kofax Kapow
NICE is a leading RPA solutions providers in the industry having solid 6 customer success stories. Their Free ebook on Robotic Process Automation Case Studies and RPA Infographics provides more insights about the company and RPA.
Another pretty straight forward and a new Robotic Process Automation vendor who operates on 3 simple steps automation.
Performance audit, Work automation and Technology Transformation.
Novayre Solutions is a Spanish software company specialized in software development, integration and automation. They have been providing business intelligence and automation solutions since 2008. Novayre Solutions developed a Robotic Process Automation with a unique name called Jidōka, which means “automation with a human touch” in Japanese. The whole idea behind this RPA tool is to replicate the human behavior using computer applications.
WorkFusion is a software company committed to develop AI powered software products to transform the work. Company headquartered on Wall Street in New York city with branches in India, US and Europe. Key concepts or focus are of WorkFusion are Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Automation.
WorkFusion is already partnered with companies like Deloitte, Cognizant, HCL Technologies, EY, L&T Infotech, TATA, Virtusa, FIS™ and Wipro.
Play the below video to see few more RPA Tools
Few More RPA Tools list, Watch here:
Robotic Process Automation Tools selection Checklist:
Now that we know some of the leading Robotic Process Automation vendors, the next step is to decide which tool to choose. Its a hard decision! since all most all the vendors are providing about similar rpa tools in terms of as an automation solution.
Below are some of the points to be considered while making a RPA Tool Selection:
First and foremost is the technology in which RPA tool has been built, like Microsift .NET, IBM Mainframe, Java, web etc. The tool has to be platform independent, considering many of the organizations perform their day to day tasks outside the local desktop using Citrix or Virtual machines etc. So the automation solution should be able to support any application and platform.
Next most important feature is the RPA tool’s user interface. A complex user interface will delay the process of implementation and increase the learning curve and adaptability. A more user friendly interface like drag and drop, auto capture, image recognition etc. would be better.
It is important to know how effectively and easily the robots can be managed considering these robots are going to be replacing your human workforce. There should be a high level of visibility and control in terms of process monitoring, process change, development, re-use etc.
I would say security is one of the most important factor to be considered. How safe are the robots when compared to the humans? After all robots/RPA tools are also a piece of software, so how much more security controls can be implemented, test the code rigidly and lock it up, the better. Automation solutions that supports the compliance process (like HIPPA – For Healthcare industry, SOX – Financial Sector, PCI DSS – Credit card related organization etc.) are some of the factors to be considered in terms of security.
RPA Implementation Plan
RPA implementation methodology can be broadly classified into 6 steps. Below are the approach to be followed for a successful RPA implementation.
- Identify the Automation Opportunities
- Optimize the Identified Processes
- Build a Business Case
- RPA Vendor Selection
- Pilot RPA Development
- Ramp up and Continue Building Expertise RPA bots.
RPA Use in Industries
Any industry that uses computer for monotonous jobs can leverage the benefits of RPA. RPA is making its way into every industry possible, below are some of the RPA adoption by industry and the use of RPA.
Use – Customer support, service desk, KYC, Loan processing etc.
2.Business Process Outsourcing
Use – ERP Automation, Logistics data automation, Invoice processing, web integrated rpa etc.
Use – Remove or reduce the lot of paper work by introducing the Virtual Infrastructure. Claims processing, appeals processing, responding partner queries etc.
Use – Billing, meter-reading exceptions, debt recovery and customer service
Use – Switch from bunch of papers to making all required documents digitally available in seconds.
As of 2017 almost 80% of the industries are already using RPA solutions in one or the other way. You can play the below 2 min video to see the RPA growth % in various industries.
List of companies using RPA
Now that we know the industry wide usage of RPA, it is good to know the list of companies which are using RPA. This was a request from many of my readers as well, so I have written a detailed article with the list of companies using RPA. Feel free to check it out!
Why RPA Fail?
If the below the prerequisites for rpa are not considered properly then chances are high for leading the Robotic Process Automation to a failure.
1.Early adoption of RPA
Early implementation of RPA is one of the major reasons why RPA fail. Many organisations and professionals are now in a hurry to implement RPA in their respective areas and get the RPA seal. This hurry can lead to a wrong process selection for automation.
A wrong process selection in terms of Complexity, Maturity, Cost-effectiveness etc. will lead the RPA journey to a failure. So to avoid this mistake, it is highly important to strictly follow the RPA Implementation methodology (mentioned earlier), especially step 1 & 2.
2.Lack of knowledge
Operations, IT infrastructure and the RPA vendor/tool are the 3 key factors of RPA journey.
Operations – There should be a clear understanding on the process that need to be automated, including the exceptions if possible. This understanding has to be clearly communicated and documented between the operations and the RPA development teams.
IT Infrastructure – You can develop an outstanding RPA solution but what if it does not work in your environment. So it is important to have a clear understanding on the infrastructure where the bot has to run. For eg: whether it should be a desktop solution or an inside citrix solution or it’s a published environment etc.
Robotic Process Automation Training or RPA Learning
A few years ago it was very difficult to find rpa study materials and institutes to learn RPA, but now the situation has changed. There are lots institutes and websites providing offline and online RPA tutorials and courses, many of them are free as well.
You should approach RPA learning in 3 stages:
- Understanding Basics of RPA
Understanding what is RPA is the first and foremost stage in the learning curve and fortunately by reading this tutorial you are done with phase one. All you need to know about RPA is extensively covered here.
As an additional reference you can check the courses in Udemy on Robotic Process Automation.
- Understanding RPA Tools and Vendors
In phase two you need to get more familiar with RPA tools and vendors. A question which is asked by most of the beginners are, which is the best rpa tool to learn?
Most of the RPA vendors are providing training on their respective tools for free. To start with I would suggest you to go with UiPath as they have a very detailed UiPath RPA Academy which is damn helpful to learn RPA for beginners.
- Hands on with RPA Tool
The second and third step should go parallaly, if you decide to start with Uipath then the advantage is they have a Community version of the UiPath software available for free. So while learning with UiPath RPA Academy you also get hand on with the software.
There are other vendors also provide free RPA software like RPA Express from WorkFusion etc.
Different Robotics Process Automation Jobs
Companies and industries follow different job structure and hierarchies however below are some of the common Robotic Process Automation jobs available.
1.RPA Business Analyst
RPA BA s are generally the SMEs of the process, it is always better to train the Subject Mater Experts of the process as RPA Business Analysts as they have in-depth knowledge on the process that need to be automated. Process knowledge is very much required for the preparation for process map which will be used during the designing and automation.
So if you are a non-techie but a subject matter expert looking for a career shift to RPA then RPA Business Analyst would be a right choice for you.
2.RPA Solution Architect
RPA SAs play a key role in characterizing the entire RPA solution by closely working with RPA BAs in the initial stage. They have an important role from defining the RPA solution architecture to successful implementation of the RPA solution. They select the appropriate set of technological tools and features and ensures the alignment of the solution with enterprise guidelines.
These are the people who actually develop RPA robots using various RPA Tools. RPA developers are in charge of designing, developing, testing the automation workflows and supporting the implementation of the RPA solution. They work closely with RPA Business Analysts, RPA Solution Architects and the Implementation Engineers.
Though it is said RPA is code free, developers with knowledge on programming languages like .net, vba etc. can outshine in this role.
4.RPA Infrastructure Engineer
These are basically the implementation or infrastructure engineers who gets involved during the implementation of the RPA bot. They might not require the RPA developer knowledge however they should have the infrastructure knowledge like the windows server, citrix etc. and also they should know the implementation process for specific RPA tools in various infrastructure.
This is basically the managerial role, who manages or leads the overall automation journey. Resource allocation, performance monitoring, coordinating with various teams, project planning etc. are some of the roles of an RPA supervisor.
6.RPA Service Support
This can be one of the overlooked RPA jobs but very critical as they are being the primary line of help for the RPA deployment in any organization.
You can find more relevant RPA jobs and job descriptions here
Robotic Process automation Salary
Last but not the least, one of the most commonly discussed topic on RPA is Robotic Process Automation Salary. How much does the RPA professionals make annually? Though it is not appropriate to share the salary information, some of the surveys shows that geographic locations has big impact on the annual salary of RPA professionals.
North Americans – 68% of the RPA professionals make more than $100K annually.
Europeans – 48% of the RPA professionals make $50K to $100K annually.
APAC region – 50% of the RPA professionals make less than $50K annually.
You can have a quick glance on the Glassdoor website to see some of the RPA jobs and approximate salary offered for each rpa job levels.
Let me conclude this rpa tutorial for beginners in simple words :Give robots’ job to robots and humans' jobs to humans #rpaClick To Tweet
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We have covered almost all the major topics related to RPA in this beginners tutorial. Please let me know all your questions and thoughts on Robotic Process Automation in the comments section below, I’ll reply to them in the RPA Q & A session.