What is RPA and how does RPA work?

If you have ever wondered what is RPA and how does RPA works, then this article is for you.

RPA is the trending new software implementation on business workflows aimed at integrating and automating not just one but many together. But before we dive into how it works let’s first look into what RPA is?

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation or RPA is a technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or on Artificial Intelligence. It is used in the automation and integration of various routine workflow processes or systems together.

According to UiPath, Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate human actions interacting with digital systems and software. Just like people, software robots can do things like understanding what’s on a screen, complete the right keystrokes, navigate systems, identify and extract data, and perform a wide range of defined actions. But software robots can do it faster and more consistently than people.

In traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language. In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI) and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI. This can lower the barrier to the use of automation in products that might not otherwise feature APIs for this purpose.

RPA is predominantly used to automate business processes and tasks, resulting in reductions in spending and giving businesses a competitive edge.

How RPA works?

RPA technology is a versatile software and can be used for various business processes of all business sizes. RPA uses software robots to automate repetitive, rule-based processes and operations, by mimicking user interactions and working across several applications and functions.

This is how RPA works-

•   First, a set of instructions are provided to the software bots on what to do at each stage of the workflow tasks that need to be automated for all of the systems.

•   Once this is programmed into the RPA, then the software can run the program automatically and complete the concerned tasks as many times as required.

One common example of RPA technology is the automated creation of invoices. It is an essential function for any business. This is usually a repetitive task and can be time-consuming for employees as they’ll have to deal with many of such tasks in a day. This can reduce their productivity and efficiency.

Another example of RPA technology in the healthcare sector is streamlining scheduling patient appointments according to diagnosis, location, doctor availability, and other criteria. Also, RPA bots can accurately calculate the bill amount considering the costs of tests from different departments, medicines, wardroom, doctor fees, etc., and even notify patients of their bill amount.

Because of being structured and repetitive in nature, processes like these are ideal to be automated with the help of RPA.

How does RPA work with the existing systems?

To work with an existing system or systems RPA accesses the information from existing IT systems. RPA uses several ways to integrate with the existing applications. It depends on the requirements of the organization to choose the appropriate way of integration.

There are usually two types of RPA integration methods:

Back-end RPA Integrations

With the back-end integration, automation accesses systems and services under the control of a process automation server. It is generally used for unattended automation in which software bots carry out back-office tasks. These tasks may include processing insurance claims at scale with minimal to no employee intervention.

Front-end RPA Integrations

Front-end integrations provide several different ways by which automation can connect with desktop applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Salesforce CRM, etc. A front-end automation can read/write data and capture events directly from the user interface of the host application, just like humans.

What is AI-powered RPA?

AI-powered RPA is an advanced automation technology, which leverages technologies like OCR (Optical Character Recognition), Machine Learning, AI (Artificial Intelligence), Text Analytics, etc. These technologies help the capabilities of the automation process, for example, machine learning helps the automation process to gain abilities that help in learning, expanding, and continuously improving the capabilities and certain aspects of its functionality.

AI-powered RPA can also be attended to or unattended RPA. These can process information from structured databases, whereas cognitive automation can even process data from unstructured data sources. For example, scanned documents, letters, and emails. AI also helps to train bots to handle exceptions with the same methods that human employees use to handle exceptions in attended automation processes.

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