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Robotic Process Automation. Part 1. About the Technology

Robotic Process Automation (RPA, Robotics) is a revolutionary technology that allows organizations to significantly increase operational productivity by replacing people with robots in order to redistribute the released human resource to perform more complex tasks that bring a large added value. From a technical point of view, it is a technology by which organizations configure software (software robots) to perform repetitive, mechanical operations at the user interface level. Software robots perform the specified operations in the same way that people do, receiving, sorting, processing data and performing certain actions with them, without changing the IT landscape of the organization.

RPA allows you to radically change, without exaggeration, the very approach to executing repetitive tasks related to manual input and processing of data. The peculiarity of the approach is that within the framework of this technology, one application (software robot) interacts with another application not through the API (Application Programming Interface) or the integration bus, but through the existing user interface. That is, one program communicates with another program, simulating the user’s actions. This in turn determines the main advantages of using RPA.

Since the existing application-user interface is used, when automation with Robotic Process Automation, the existing IT landscape remains unchanged. The RPA infrastructure is deployed on top of existing IT systems. For many companies that have legacy systems, it is very undesirable to touch upon them (there are no specialists, they are poorly documented, it is very expensive), this can be a solution to many problems. In addition, when using this technology, existing controls, regulatory procedures and reporting remain unchanged.

Due to the fact that Robotic Process Automation does not change the IT landscape, the implementation is very fast. Tangible results can be achieved in the first 2-3 weeks of piloting. If, for some reason, it is necessary to return to the previous scheme of work – it is enough to disable the robot and return the processing task to the employee.

By its nature, Robotic Process Automation is gradually introduced, process by process, and the result is noticeable after the robotization of the first process. Costs are significantly reduced and operational performance increases with little investment in technology, especially when it comes to using open source solutions that do not require the cost of licenses.

Results of Robotic Process Automation

First of all, robots are ready to perform assigned tasks 24 hours a day. They are not sick, do not go on vacation, they do not have a bad mood.

Robots are not mistaken. Once correctly set up the robot performs its tasks without errors, which will periodically occur in humans.

When the executable process requires modification, it is enough for the robot to change the rules of work (modify the script), employees must be retrained and this is not a fast process.

Robots are 100% documented their actions. This is especially important for compliance with various legislative and industrial requirements (be in compliance with).

According to various estimates, depending on the type of robotic process, one robot replaces three to eight people in performance.

The robot does not need a workplace in the office center and medical insurance.

According to the experience of implementing RPA, all this gives 40 to 80% reduction in direct costs for processing business processes. Add to this the simplicity of scaling technology: if you need to speed up the execution of a business process, you simply connect another robot, instead of looking for a new employee in the market, organizing a workplace for him, conducting training, etc.

How Does iIt Look in Real Life?

Does this mean that the employer takes the employee from the workplace and gives it to the robot? This is an extreme case, although, we will not dissemble, and such a scenario is possible. In practice, there are two most common approaches to software robotization.

Scenario # 1. Placement of the robot on the employee’s computer. In this case, the robot does not replace the employee by 100%, but only performs some similar tasks, acting as a digital assistant. As a rule, at the same time tasks that arise from time to time and do not require the allocation of an employee for a full-time job are robotized. The solution can be to install an employee of the robotization module on the computer in addition to the existing applications. When a task for the robot appears, the user simply starts the program, which automatically executes the job. It must be understood that at this time the computer is occupied by a robot and the user can not perform other tasks on it. But while the robot is doing its job, the employee can make a phone call to the client or discuss with colleagues a joint project.

Scenario # 2. A dedicated virtual workstation for the robot. In this scenario, a virtual environment is created, in which only robots work. This environment can contain hundreds of different robots, performing their tasks at least round the clock. The scheme is applicable for the mass use of software robots for a large number of tasks.

In a word, Robotic Process Automation looks very promising. But will everyone be able to take advantage of the opportunities that are opening up? Who will benefit from software robotics most, and for whom this technology is not applicable? About this we will talk next time.