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What is Robotic Process Automation?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 8336 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Tools


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the use of software to automate rule-based tasks and processes and mimic human actions such as data entry, searches, calculations, and rule-based decisions across multiple software applications.  From this perspective you can view RPA as workflow automation though the term is used throughout the industry to refer specifically to software that automates tasks across multiple software applications.

For instance, a mortgage loan company may have a manually intensive process of entering customer data into a digital loan application then manually copying some of that information into a separate credit rating application and, finally, copying the resulting credit information into a separate underwriting application to receive an underwriting decision. This simplified example has identified 3 separate software applications.  The digital loan application, the credit rating application, and the underwriting application.  

Here is how robotic process automation could dramatically improve a business workers productivity and data accuracy in this instance.  With RPA software running, a business worker would kick of a process by opening the digital loan application and entering customer information. Once complete, the RPA software can open the credit rating application on its own and automatically copy over the necessary information from the loan application.  This occurs swiftly, consistently, and accurately, eliminating the potential for copy errors.  The RPA software initiates the credit rating process and a credit rating is received. The RPA software then opens the underwriting decision application, copies the necessary information from the previous two applications into the underwriting system, and initiates the underwriting process.  

A common question people ask is whether test automation software falls within RPA. By definition it would seem that some do since they sometimes automate tasks across multiple applications but in practice the industry treats this type of software as separate and distinct category.  So for practical purposes it's best to think of these two types of automation software differently.

Some advantages and limitations of RPA are:

1) Saves times and money
2) Increases consistency, accuracy and quality of data entry
3) May lead to increased customer satisfaction
4) Improved analytics

1) Not for processes that require judgment
2) Requires structured information as inputs
3) Must identify all inputs in advanced
4) Cannot learn, shelf life

A quick review of the features and abilities of some popular RPA tools may help further your understanding of the space. 

Popular RPA tools: 

AntWorks, Automation Anywhere, BlackLine, Blue Prism, Datamatics, EdgeVerve, HelpSystems, Jacada, Kofax, Mozenda, NICE, Pega Systems, UiPath, Verint, WorkFusion


Chris Adams
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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