Most of us have heard that RPA is going to turn the world upside down in the coming years. It will make us rethink the way we want to educate our children and maybe even tweak our own work profile. So I thought it’s a good idea to understand some technical basics on RPA , what it is and what it is not.

What are RPA Robots?

RPA robots are extremely different from the very tactile and physically present hardware robots. In a very crude definition RPA Robots are workflows/process or sequence of events that are saved as a file type (example XAML files in UiPath).

They do a set of things in a predefined flow as directed by a program written for them. They are identified with a unique ID in their Robot Management System (Orchestrator)  and we can even name them  – WALL-E maybe J

 

Are there any different types of RPA Robots?

Multiple classifications of Robots exist in the market – You will hear of ChatBots, Knowbots, Probots, Back Office Bots, Front Office Bots and so on.

What basically sets robots apart is what are they designed to do. RPA orchestration systems provide different triggering, interaction and exception handling based on what the Bot’s expertise is.  For Example Front office activities require a lot of human and Bot Interaction while backend Bots will likely run unattended. Similarly the loading of Bot machines may vary based on what processes they perform and hence the capacity optimization may be done accordingly.

How long and what does it take to create RPA robot?

What it takes is surely a platform that lets you design a robot, there are many in the market – UiPath, Automation Anywhere and BluePrism to name a few.

Coming to how long, it purely depends on the complexity and criticality of the process you are automating.  A simple bot may be designed in hours and complicated process may take multiple weeks/months and many robots to automate. Unfortunately there is no clearcut answers here.

 

How does RPA work ?

Here is a link to an article that has a very effective definition of how RPA works.

http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2016/03/13/an-introduction-to-robotic-process-automation/

In Summary – RPA comprises of a set of developer tools, a robot controller, and the software robots.

1.       Developer tools –  They help create a set of step by step instructions to perform a particular business process. The instructions need to address all scenarios like alternate flows, exceptions, Logging and user interactions. Modern platforms come with very rich GUI frameworks that help you design these flows easily. Disclaimer – This is an area for process modelling.

2.       RoBot  Controller/ Orchestrator – This is place you can choreograph your entire automation process. You can manage the jobs, scaling, performance analytics, versioning, queues, permissions, audits and much more. If required you can also store credentials in a secure format in this too

3.       Software robots – These are doers, they execute the instructions systematically as defined in the modelling area.  If instructed they will log what they are doing.

 

In my next blog I will try to cover more details on different Automation Technologies and what sets them apart.