Frequently Asked Questions about Robotic Process Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an emerging technology that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. As with any new technology, there are often many questions and uncertainties that arise. Here are some frequently asked questions about RPA.

Frequently Asked Questions about Robotic Process Automation
Frequently Asked Questions about Robotic Process Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an emerging technology that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. As with any new technology, there are often many questions and uncertainties that arise. Here are some frequently asked questions about RPA:

Do you have any questions about RPA or its implementation? If so, please contact us. We'd be happy to answer them and add them to this FAQ section. At Ether Solutions, we believe no question is too silly, so don't hesitate to ask!

The questions are numbered for easy reference, and there is no hierarchy of importance.

What is the function of RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software solution that eliminates the need for physical hardware. It is designed to mimic human actions by performing predictable tasks such as copying data from one document to a system (e.g. quotation to order), collating data, and generating reports. RPA can carry out repetitive tasks that a human would normally do on a computer system, with high accuracy and speed. As the technology develops and matures, it is becoming easier to create and deploy solutions.

Do RPA technologies cost a lot of money?

The cost of RPA solutions can range from a few thousand dollars for the simplest products to large enterprise-level budgets for major companies. The price is determined by the functionality and complexity of the software, covering a wide range of vendors.

Do implementing and maintaining RPA pose a challenge?

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding RPA implementations. They can be implemented in smaller increments, or larger projects involving teams of people. Just like any other business venture, it is important to consider the risks, rewards, and focus on what will bring about a reasonable return on investment (ROI). The 80:20 rule applies to RPA as well. Utilizing a proof of concept (POC) can help ensure that what is theoretically possible can be practically achieved.

What advantages does RPA offer?

RPA can help to reduce costs by automating processes that can be completed 24/7 quickly and accurately. It does not replace human workers, but instead allows them to focus on more complex tasks that require human creativity and intuition. Rather than viewing RPA as a means of eliminating employees, it should be seen as a way of enabling them to do more. The automation of the 80% of standard tasks by RPA robots allows employees to focus their energy on the remaining 20%, leading to greater efficiency and productivity.

Who can assist me in implementing RPA?

At Ether Solutions, we can provide assistance with the technical aspects of RPA practices, but our clients are the experts when it comes to understanding their own business activities better than any management consultancy.

What is the definition of the acronym RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that uses software robots, or bots, to automate tasks that are normally performed by a human user in a graphical user interface (GUI). This allows for tasks to be programmed once and then repeated with different data values, resulting in higher productivity and lower costs. The bots watch a user perform the task in the GUI, and then the bot can repeat the task directly in the GUI.

What is the abbreviation for Robotic Process Automation in technology?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that automates tasks normally performed by a person on a computer system. It works by using a software robot or bot to read from a screen, type on the keyboard, and click or move the mouse. Depending on the configuration of the system, the actions of the software robot may or may not be visible on a physical screen. Additionally, RPA can be used with virtual desktops to perform activities without any user involvement, which is referred to as unattended processing.

What are the benefits of implementing RPA?

You should be invested in RPA because it is a rapidly developing sector of the technology industry. RPA has the potential to dramatically improve your business' productivity, efficiency, and quality. Additionally, software robots only cost around one dollar per hour, making them an affordable alternative to human labor.

Why has there been relatively little discussion about RPA if it is the next big thing?

Many large corporations across the globe have implemented RPA. Initially, the technology required a large volume of activities to be processed in order to make the costs worthwhile; however, the products have now advanced to the point that they are financially viable for organisations of all sizes. Ether Solutions' ROI Calculator for RPA demonstrates that in many cases, the cost for a software robot (aka Bot) is as low as $1 per hour. As RPA gains more traction in the mid-market, it will become increasingly popular.

What is the distinction between Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and macros and scripting?

Macros and scripts are similar in that they both perform a set of actions within an application; for example, an Excel macro works within an Excel spreadsheet, whereas a script is a Windows script that performs actions on a specific PC. However, RPA provides much greater functionality, as it is not limited to a single application like a macro and can be used across applications. Additionally, RPA can read information from screen displays, which is almost impossible for a scripting language, which can only get Response codes.

What are some current applications of RPA?

RPA has traditionally been a powerful asset in the realm of Finance, with uses such as invoice processing, accounts payable, month-end reports, and reconciliations. HR departments have also employed the technology in areas such as employee on-boarding, holiday management, and GDPR requests. Sales and marketing departments have used RPA to bolster their corporate CRM usage, while Logistics departments have benefitted from its use in the management of transport paperwork, licences, and permits.

What are the capabilities of a digital worker?

A Bot or software robot, commonly referred to as a digital worker, is capable of mimicking the same actions that a person would take when interacting with a computer system. This includes the ability to read information from the screen, type on the keyboard, and perform mouse movements and clicks. This means that the digital worker can be programmed to carry out tedious, repetitive tasks with the same level of accuracy and speed as a human, but with the added benefit of being ten times faster and making a mere 4% of the errors that a human typically makes.

What are some of the expenses to take into account when utilizing a RPA digital worker?

When looking at expenses, there are many factors to take into account.

Licence fees or subscriptions for the software robot (digital worker), infrastructure to host the software robot, consultancy to install and configure the software robot for the activities to be performed, and on-going support for the software robot, upgrades, etc. are all required. Additionally, manual activity may be necessary to handle exceptions in the activities which are beyond the software robot capabilities.

In addition to costs, the potential returns should be taken into account. Ether Solutions offers a ROI calculator for RPA to help with this.

How long do RPA projects usually take to implement?

When RPA projects were initially initiated by Global corporations, they were complex tasks. However, the technology has advanced quickly, making it possible for implementations to be executed quickly; often a Proof of Concept (POC) is completed within a few days and projects are usually finished in a few weeks. The recommended approach is to begin with a limited process for automation, so that the necessary infrastructure can be set up and the organization can adjust to the utilization of software robots. Afterwards, the addition of extra robots can be based upon this same environment.

What methods do we use to monitor and manage digital workers?

For optimal results, it is best to coordinate a number of digital workers (aka software robots) together, rather than implementing them as individual entities. To ensure optimal performance, supporting the robots with software upgrades should be done centrally for greater efficiency. UiPath software offers an Orchestration product to manage the robots centrally and monitor their activity, while also minimizing overall costs by optimizing the capacity of each robot.

Which processes are good candidates for automation with RPA?

When assessing if a business process is suitable for RPA, several aspects must be taken into account, such as: Is it a repetitive task? Does it involve only digital data? How are decisions within the task made?

What is the distinction between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Software vendors often use a lot of marketing tactics which can make it difficult to differentiate between capabilities, but in reality, they are distinct yet complementary.

AI is a technology that enables machines to answer questions or solve problems. It typically involves gathering large amounts of data about a given situation and then looking for patterns that can be used to create a model. This model is then used to provide answers to questions or solutions to problems. For example, AI might be used to analyze a company's invoices in order to develop a model that can be used to automatically extract relevant information from new invoices, such as the supplier name, address, and invoice amount. Because AI is not perfect, the answers it provides will always come with a confidence factor that indicates how accurate the answer is. Just like humans, AI systems have an accuracy threshold that they must meet in order to provide reliable results.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that enables machines to mimic the actions of a human working on a computer. For instance, an RPA software robot could be programmed to access an Outlook inbox, detect new emails, download attached invoices from the emails, submit the invoices to an AI system, and use the data obtained from the AI to update a finance system with the relevant details from the invoice.

What type of training do employees need to work effectively with digital workers?

The configuration of digital workers (aka software robots) dictates how staff can initiate them and interact with them. This could entail an icon on the computer desktop to launch a digital worker, or a specific set of keys on the keyboard being pressed. The input passed to the software robot and the actions it carries out can all be adjusted. A person working with the computer may be able to see the actions performed by the software robot, as the display may change and they may have to wait for the actions to finish. Alternatively, the software robot may complete its tasks out of sight, with only a notification message being displayed once it is done.

What benefits will digital workers provide to supplement my human workers?

Software Robots, or Digital Workers, are adept at executing repetitive tasks quickly and accurately, tasks which people often find mundane, dull, and tedious. By allowing Digital Workers to handle this type of work, people can focus on activities of greater value, such as handling exceptions, being creative, performing one-off tasks, and adding an emotional element when engaging with others, thus allowing them to be more human-like.

Do computing applications need to be altered for the deployment of digital workers?

Digital workers can interact with computer applications by mimicking the actions of people, without the need to modify the applications. This allows for people or digital workers to perform the same activity, without the risk of compromising the applications, as they utilize the same Graphical User Interface as a person would.

Is it possible to have multiple digital workers?

Businesses can implement as many digital workers (also known as software robots) as needed. The challenge lies in utilizing the capacity of each digital worker to its fullest potential. These digital workers are able to work 24/7 and interact with computer applications at a much faster rate than a human. This means that a single digital worker has the capacity to complete 42 times the work of a person in the same amount of time. Although this potential capacity may not always be achieved due to vendor license restrictions and the organization of the workload, it still demonstrates the immense potential of digital workers.

What is the definition of a robot?

A software robot in the context of Robotic Process Automation is a piece of code that is programmed to simulate a human user, such as reading from a computer display, typing at a keyboard, moving and clicking a mouse. This capability, combined with the ability to follow a set of instructions, gives software robots the ability to carry out a variety of tasks on computer applications that use standard software like browsers, Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and working with documents like PDFs.

What are the benefits of having a robot?

Software robots are able to do exactly what they are instructed to do, carrying out repetitive tasks based on value-based decisions with digital information such as emails, spreadsheets, and CRM/ERP/Finance browser pages. This takes the burden of mundane and boring work away from humans, freeing them up to focus on more important tasks.

Who is responsible for making a robot?

Ether Solutions, a partner of UiPath, is well-equipped to provide software robot capability to business users. UiPath is highly respected, and is one of the top three software vendors in the industry, along with Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere. Ether Solutions' consultants are knowledgeable and experienced in configuring UiPath software robots to carry out specific tasks.

Is it possible to build a robot?

UiPath and other software vendors offer a variety of educational materials free of charge, so that anyone interested can invest their time to learn about the abilities of software robots and how to customize them to complete business tasks. Ether Solutions, a consultancy, employs people who understand and have experience in developing and setting up software robots. Furthermore, there is a trend in the industry to offer features that allow business users to create Simple robots without extensive training; UiPath provides this through StudioX.

At what point is it beneficial to build a robot?

Software robots are programmed to do specific tasks, like completing repetitive processes or making value-based decisions based on digital information (e.g. emails, spreadsheets, CRM, ERP, and finance browser pages). Creating a robot requires effort, but the more frequently it can be used, the more cost-effective it is for businesses. This is why software robots were initially created and used by large, global companies, as automation at that scale made the use of robots more feasible. However, as the technology has matured, it is now cheaper and easier to create software robots, allowing smaller businesses to benefit from automation as well.

Is it possible for a software robot to replace my job?

Software robots are becoming increasingly commonplace and will have a significant impact on many jobs. Often referred to as Digital Workers, these robots are adept at carrying out repetitive tasks, but they cannot complete every task. Exception handling, which requires judgement and decision-making, is best handled by people. Through the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), even more automation is possible, yet complex tasks will still require human attention. Studies have proven that introducing software robots can lead to improved work activities for employees, as the knowledge and expertise they possess can be better utilized, making their jobs more stimulating.

What benefits come from using a robot?

A software robot, also known as a Bot, is capable of rapidly and accurately performing repetitive tasks. A robot is usually 10 times faster than a human when completing the same tasks on a computer. Furthermore, when humans handle large amounts of mundane work, there is a 4% chance of errors. Software robots, on the other hand, can repeat their actions with perfect accuracy.
When considering the implementation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the primary focus is often on cost reduction. However, the greatest benefit of RPA is that it frees up staff to handle more complex tasks. Additionally, one robot can perform the same amount of work as 42 people, and costs just one dollar per hour, making it a suitable replacement for humans completing low value work.

What are the distinctions between RPA and automation?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) enables a computer system to mimic tasks previously done by a human, creating the same output as if a person had completed the work. By making changes to the computer application, automation of the process can be achieved, however, complete automation is difficult when the process involves multiple computer applications (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, CRM and ServiceNow).

What is the role of an RPA developer?

With this tool, the RPA developer can design, test and debug automation scripts that define the robotic process automation and its capabilities, such as the ability to read Outlook emails, the ability to update Salesforce CRM, etc.

Is coding skills necessary for RPA?

UiPath have developed StudioX to provide business users with a range of tools to create robots without the need for coding. While this can be used for simpler activities, for more complex tasks, specialist consultants like Ether Solutions may be needed to develop code for the robot.

How straightforward is it to begin using RPA?

When implementing RPA, it is important to first identify a process that is suitable for automation. Ether Solutions provides a process checklist to help with this, and their consultants can also provide software robot technology for installation, configuration, and script development to complete the business task.

What are the responsibilities of an RPA business analyst?

A business analyst in RPA works with the business teams to determine and outline a suitable business process for automation. This includes defining the boundaries of the automation, establishing a "happy path" and exceptions, and analyzing the overall effect of the automation on the entire business operation. This entails considering the interaction between humans and the robot, managing exceptions, and more.

What is a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Organizations may create a Centre of Excellence (CoE) when they begin deploying Robotic Process Automation (RPA) across their business. This CoE consists of experts in creating software robots and implementing RPA solutions, as well as understanding the change management that accompanies such implementations. It is the role of the CoE to record the lessons learned from each implementation, create standards, and provide an overview of the implementation strategy for each business area's automation requirements.

What is an Operation Center (RoC) for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

A team, separate from any of the teams responsible for developing the software robot scripts, is designated as the RPA Operation Center. This team is responsible for the on-going monitoring and management of the robots, such as software upgrades, implementation of security policies, resilience and recovery, performance, and monitoring. Their focus is on the robot's operation rather than the business functionality.

What is the definition of AI?

The term "artificial intelligence" (AI) is used to describe a wide range of technologies that mimic the cognitive abilities of the human mind, such as learning, problem-solving, and reasoning. While there is a lot of hype surrounding AI in marketing, it is important to note that it can be applied to more complex challenges than just providing a mechanism for questions and answers.

Is there more than one type of AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is usually divided into three categories: (1) Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), also known as Weak AI, which is specialized in one area; (2) Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), also called Strong AI or Human-Level AI, which is a computer that is as intelligent as a human in all areas; and (3) Artificial Superintelligence (ASI), which is an intellect that is smarter than the best human brains in almost all areas. Currently, most products and solutions that are advertised as AI are of the ANI type, meaning they are designed to solve a specific problem or type of problem.

RPA software robots enable AI by providing automated processes that can be used to complete tasks quickly and accurately.

By incorporating leading RPA tools such as UiPath into AI platforms, businesses can integrate AI decision making into their existing processes. The RPA software robots facilitate this by automating the delivery of questions or problems to the AI software, and then using the AI analysis results to complete the business process.

RPA software robots enable ML by providing automated tasks that would otherwise require manual labor, allowing ML algorithms to be applied more effectively.

RPA software robots are a great way to deliver problems to AI software and to utilize the output. If Machine Learning (ML) is to be applied, the acceptance of the AI result must be recorded in the business process and the feedback loop must be utilized by the ML software to improve the AI model and deliver better quality results. As the robots already interact with the AI output, they are in the perfect position to provide the acceptance data to the ML software.

Does Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP)?

With Natural Language Processing (NLP), computers are able to analyse, understand and interpret human language in a precise and effective manner. NLP examines the text in order to identify Intent, Objects and Actions. Robots powered by Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software can use the results from NLP engines to decide on the appropriate actions for a business process.

Do Chatbots and RPA software robots serve the same purpose?

Chatbots utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP) to comprehend and construct a conversation with someone, usually through a website. When a Chatbot understands that an action must be taken, it then transfers the information to a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software robot to execute the action by following a business process. Though related, these two technologies are distinct and serve different purposes.

Is there any Open Source RPA software available?

Yes, now that the RPA market has developed, multiple Open Source RPA software robot solutions such as G1ANT and Robin have become available.

Will Microsoft's introduction of a RPA software robot affect the market?

By Microsoft bolstering and reconfiguring their Flow product into an RPA solution, they provide credibility to the RPA industry and set a standard that all other independent RPA vendors must strive to exceed.

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is a combination of technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics process automation (RPA), and machine learning, that can automate complex business processes. It enables organizations to automate tasks that were previously too complex or time-consuming for traditional automation techniques.

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is commonly referred to as Intelligent Automation or Cognitive Automation. This pairing allows for more sophisticated decision-making than when relying solely on value-based decisions. To ensure accuracy and precision in the automated process, the AI model must be trained on the right decisions based on all available factors. Document Recognition is another important factor in many processes, and without AI capability it can be challenging to accurately identify similar documents.

What is HyperAutomation?

Hyperautomation is the use of multiple technologies such as AI, RPA, and ML to automate the majority of business processes, while only involving humans when absolutely necessary. This is the highest level of automation possible, as Robotic Process Automation is the use of software robots to replace manual, repetitive tasks on computer applications.

What is the estimated time frame for implementing RPA?

The answer to the question of how long it takes to automate a process depends on the processes being automated. Generally, RPA should be used to implement the "Happy Path" activity on a simple process; this approach can take anywhere from 1 to 10 days. Additionally, deploying the robot software into a development and production environment should be counted separately. This rapid development allows for experience of robot operation to be gained, which can be used to enhance the Happy Path and create solutions for other business processes. The development time for each iteration is typically 10 days, while testing and release controls can extend this up to 20 days. It is important to note that RPA is automating a process that is already being done, so users will not need to learn new skills.

What is RPA intended for?

Rather than having people perform mundane, repetitive tasks on computer systems, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been developed to automate these processes. Software robots are programmed to simulate reading from the screen, simulating typing on the keyboard and simulating mouse clicks. This takes the effort away from humans, allowing them to focus on more valuable tasks. RPA can be used for any activity a person does on the computer, as long as it is repetitive. Initially only big corporations could afford to use RPA, however, due to the technology maturing and becoming more accessible, mid-market and large national businesses can now use this technology too.

What organizations are using RPA?

Global corporations were the first to adopt Robotic Process Automation (RPA), as they had the necessary workload to make it worth the investment. Now, however, the technology has advanced and become more affordable, allowing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) and large organizations to take advantage of it. Even though the majority of users are in the finance sector, RPA has a wide range of applications, working in all kinds of industries, from government and accounting to legal, retail and telecommunication.

How can RPA benefit you?

RPA is a technology that automates business processes that are typically done on computer systems. It reduces manual effort, increasing productivity and eliminating human errors, resulting in better quality outcomes. Furthermore, the ability to work continuously around the clock offers opportunities to re-structure the workflow.

Do the benefits of RPA outweigh the potential drawbacks?

RPA has the potential to provide significant benefits by automating business processes. To realize its full potential, the process needs to be stable and the computer applications the robots interact with should remain unchanged. However, keeping the RPA software robots up to date to reflect changes in the business processes and variations in computer applications may incur additional Support costs.

By understanding the answers to these frequently asked questions, businesses can make informed decisions about whether RPA is the right solution for their needs.