Posted on behalf of Scott Anderson, Manager, Quality Assurance

There will be a quiz at the end so make sure you read carefully and pay attention!  [Kidding] [Bonus points if you know where the article title came from]

RPA, or robotic process automation, has been a wide-ranging buzzword that has been tossed around relentlessly in the past year or so.  That said, what exactly is RPA?  The all-knowing Google tells us:

“Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate humans’ actions interacting with digital systems and software.”

RPA is really a technology that automates repetitive, remedial tasks.  Will RPA ever create an automation robot army that will ravenously consume jobs?  Of course not, silly!  Keanu Reeves is not coming to save us. [Well, maybe in real life he would save us…. but I digress.]  Luckily, we’re all safe from the evil, drilling robot horde.

While automation can intelligently handle tasks, human interaction is still required; from building and maintaining workflows to troubleshooting and monitoring them.  Some technology offerings such as Summit Healthcare’s Scripting Toolkit even provides a web dashboard to monitor and interact with workflows remotely.  What a country!  Everything is moving toward the cloud and with companies offering up more and more powerful (and scalable) RPA software package offerings, the sky is the limit.

Listen, RPA and automation aren’t perfect.  But neither are human beings.  Where RPA and automation add value are with the small tasks.  The ones that all add up and before you know it, they accrue to become an ungodly number of man hours wasted. Since man hours equal money, RPA and automation are quite attractive in this regard.  If you’re looking for RPA and automation to intelligently automate large tasks to save a few Benjamin Franklins, you’re evaluating the wrong technology.  However, if you’re looking to automate “low hanging fruit” with RPA technology, you’re looking in the right wheelhouse.

By automating daily, remedial tasks one eliminates a lot of time wasted by employees; time that could be better directed elsewhere.  With a little bit of practice, some playing around, and some testing employees can write automated workflows to handle tasks that eat up time but must be performed.  Then the employee can focus on something else, all while being able to monitor their workflows remotely.  Did I already say what a country?  What a country!  RPA sounds absolutely fantastic, doesn’t it?  Conversely, you might be asking yourself is there anything RPA can’t do?  Yes!  It won’t mow your lawn and it won’t put your kids through college.  But that’s neither here nor there.

At this point you might be asking yourself or your neighbor “what else RPA can be used for?” [I did and my neighbor didn’t know, yours might, though…]  Did I say the sky is the limit?  Well, the sky is the limit!

 Here are just a few examples of tasks that can be performed with the technology:

Data Validation – RPA can perform data validation tasks such as validating the accuracy and quality of source data before importing or processing it.

Data Migration & Data Entry – Sometimes manual data interaction is required to be done due to legacy systems being in place. Systems may not have the ability to capture the necessary data from the various sources. In these instances, typically an employee manually performs tasks to migrate the data using formats such as a CSV or XLSX file. With RPA, manual labor/time, and unexpected errors, can be reduced to a minimum. One can also automate entire workflows of different data entries which will end up saving time and resources as well.

Extracting Data from PDFs and other Formats – With technologies like OCR [Optical Character Recognition] and pattern recognition [RegEx], data can be easily extracted from multiple formats which can then be automated to enter the captured data if desired.

Generating Emails – RPA is a fantastic resource to automate and generate mass emails.

Automated Quality Assurance Testing – RPA and automation are fantastic ways to apply some time savings for automated testing.  This will help Quality Assurance and assist in delivering software with less issues.

These are just a few example tasks that can be handled with RPA and automation.  With some imagination, creativity, and dedication, automated workflows can be built to handle almost anything.  From interacting with databases and external systems to sending emails, RPA can cover the gambit of tasks and save companies money in the process.  So, trust in the process and see what RPA and automation can do for you and your business.

[P.S. The answer was “Futurama.”  If you guessed correctly, you get a gold star!]