What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Why Should I Care?

One of the hot topics du jour is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see.

So, what is RPA? And why should you care?

Those questions were the driver of a new paper on RPA and why it is so relevant. Here’s a snippet:

RPA—or Robotic Process Automation if you hate acronyms—is technology to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks performed by people.

For more perspective, consider the definition of RPA software, according to industry analyst Gartner:

“RPA tools are designed to mimic the same “manual” path taken through applications by a human using a combination of user interface (UI) interactions or by using connectors to client servers, mainframes or HTML code. An RPA tool operates by mapping a process in the RPA tool for the software “robot” to follow computer pathways between screens and various data repositories. An RPA tool can be triggered manually or automatically, move or populate data between prescribed locations, document audit trails, conduct calculations, perform actions, and trigger downstream activities.”

Consider an example of a basic order fulfilment process that includes several different steps—like capturing the information about the goods to be shipped, preparing the order for shipment, generating the invoice, informing the customer about the shipment tracking information, and so on.

Now let’s assume shipping the order requires a person to access a third-party shipping vendor’s website and perform the following steps:

  1. Login to order management system
  2. Search and open order details
  3. Login to the shipping vendor’s website
  4. Copy and paste all the required data from order management system to shipping vendor’s website
  5. Ship the order and copy tracking number from shipping vendor’s website back into order management system
  6. Mark order as shipped in order management system

This is an example of tasks you can automate with RPA.

RPA is like having a 24X7X365 digital workforce that mimics the same steps that a human would perform. These high-volume, repetitive tasks can be mind-numbing and error-prone.

Humans get weary…eyes get heavy…buttons get fat-fingered…people need breaks.

Not the software robots of RPA.

How? Imagine a digital robot logging into systems, and using the graphical user interface, just as a human would, only at lightning speeds…with no mistakes…and no breaks needed. Now, you get the picture of how RPA software works.

But, what does RPA deliver from a value standpoint?

  • Efficiency.
  • Speed.
  • Quality.
  • Cost savings.
  • Productivity.

By using RPA, organizations can simplify work, speed service delivery, and do more with less. And it all happens while freeing up FTEs to focus on more value-added work.

Want to learn more? Download the latest RPA whitepaper from Appian and see how RPA works with other technologies to accelerate your digital transformation journey.

RPA and Enterprise Automation

Prittam Bagani

Director, Product Strategy

Appian RPA with Blue Prism