Enterprises burdened with the processes that are repetitive, time-consuming & mundane are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to reduce costs and improve delivery.
Robotic processes automation has moved beyond just a trend and is actively implemented to bring automation to business processes. RPA is all about using ‘bots’ to handle business tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming.
Now you might wonder, what are RPA bots? And How do they function? Moving forward, we will discuss everything you need to know about RPA, RPA bots, their types, and workflow.
So, stay tuned for all the information that’s coming your way!
What is RPA?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a solution that helps enterprises automate manual tasks to save time & cut costs. Manual tasks such as application configurations, client file validation, data entry & data loads are automated by RPA.
Image Source: https://clockify.me/time-spent-on-recurring-tasksAccording to Gartner, “Global Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021.RPA is revolutionizing the workplace, increasing business efficiency, and driving revenues, but demand is high for qualified RPA professionals.”
To automate tasks that are tedious & error-prone, software robots or RPA bots collect submitted data, invoices, and files and automatically sort data as per requirement and submit it to the required database.
These bots work 24/7 with close to zero error approximation.
An introduction to RPA bots
When talking about bots, the picture we get in mind is of a typical robot such as in sweat car manufacturers, metal automatons, or in sci-fi films. But RPA bots are not the sort of robots!
RPA bots are intelligent software. Since these bots are programmable algorithms, they can’t function in any futuristic physical form. The RPA bots are capable of performing tasks only in a digital environment.
The primary function of bots is to automate tedious tasks and execute these processes similar to how humans would do. Therefore, these RPA bots are also referred to as “digital workers”. This digital workforce is capable of working independently and under human supervision.
How do RPA bots work?
RPA bots can handle different processes, ranging from simple to complex tasks. Generally, RPA bots are implemented for automating activities that work on linear rules, such as filling in forms, invoicing, etc.
For instance, there’s Harry. Harry is head of sales in XYZ company. The end of the month is a very hectic time for Harry because he needs to collect data for monthly bonuses for his team.
To collect the data he has to constantly switch between the CRM system and Excel datasheet. There are 20 people on his team & the process might take an entire day. On the other hand with an automation bot, this process would take a few minutes.
So, this was the process in simpler terms, but the RPA bots can do a lot more than this.
Workflow of RPA Bot:
Image Source: www.integrify.com/robotic-process-automation-rpa-and-integrify/
Regardless of the type of activity, the workflow of a typical RPA bot is as follows:
The trigger is usually an event, condition, or both of them. The automated task is kicked off with a trigger. Schedule triggers, Email triggers, and File triggers are a few types of triggers.
2. Input data acquisition
Before initiating a task, the RPA bot requires a certain set of data. This data can be collected from emails, spreadsheets, CRM, or ERP systems. Modern RPA systems enable OCR to recognize text and retrieve information.
3. Input data transformation
The primary and actual purpose of RPA bots is input data transformation. Examples of this are sorting emails, translating voice messages, creating invoices, and utilizing CRM to extract data.
4. Output delivery
Once a bot has executed its targeted action, it also needs to communicate results with the end-users. The output delivery can be in the form of
An emailPDF, XLS format reportsAn update in an existing databaseA notification in messenger and much more
Types of RPA bots
The Robotic process automation bots are generally of two types: attended and unattended ones. Recently, a new bot has also appeared which is more intelligent than the existing ones. Let’s read out about the purposes of these bots and look for the best option for your enterprise:
1. Attended RPA bots
Attended RPA bots are like virtual assistants that help you complete tasks with your governance. A great example of the attended bots would be a call center bot that a sales rep uses to look for information while they are handling the clients.
Attended bots can be launched to take over just a part of the work. Once the assigned task is completed, the employee gets control over the remaining work.
Often referred to as ‘desktop bots’ these bots can function on workstations, private servers, and the cloud.
The three types of attended bots are:
Task bots perform tasks that are rule-based and process structured data. They have a collection of actions that are programmed into them. Often seen in HR administration, procure-to-pay, these types of bots are starting points for all RPA tools.
Meta bots are designed to be reusable blueprints for business processes. These types of bots are generally used for complex and scalable processes. The use-case of meta-bots is enterprise-wide automation because they require minimal maintenance.
As the name suggests, IQ bots are more advanced intelligent automation bots. They can extract knowledge from given data and learn on their own. IQ bots require more human interaction because of the need to be programmed and set up.
Use cases for attended RPA bots:
Streamlining and fast-tracking daily routinesRepetitive tasks that are in a need real-time human-system interaction
2. Unattended RPA bots
We have all been hearing the positives of RPA that they function 24/7, that’s what unattended RPA is all about. In this type of automation, there is no need for human intervention to trigger work.
Unattended bots are self-triggered when they meet a certain set of requirements. For instance, it can send you a notification, when your printer is out of ink. These bots run on servers.
Use cases for unattended RPA bots:
Handling and automating office tasks without human interventionAutomating tasks that can be entirely mapped
3. Intelligent process automation (IPA)
After unattended and attended RPA bots, Intelligent process automation (IPA) is the most recent type of RPA bot. IPA bots leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology to grow, learn and enhance the processing of unstructured data.
A perfect example of IPA would be image recognition or any process that uses natural language processing.
When coupled with AI, the RPA bot can process payment requests, and structure invoices that can be initiated in any form.
So, these were a few types of RPA bots. These Robotic Process Automation bots emulate human behavior to perform automated tasks in a digital environment.
Although attended and unattended bots play a vital role in automating your business processes, Intelligent process automation is a more advanced RPA bot.
Robotic process automation is helping businesses upscale their outdated legacy systems by automating and implicating digital transformation in their enterprises. RPA bots are the software that makes it possible to automate your business processes.
Different types of RPA bots serve different business processes. Attended bots require more human governance while unattended robots are more robust than the other ones. The combination of these can bring in a solution that is less time-consuming and holistic.
A Beginners Guide to RPA ‘ Bots’ was originally published in Becoming Human: Artificial Intelligence Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Read MoreBecoming Human: Artificial Intelligence Magazine – Medium