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Working of RPA

With the name of RPA, many people may think about physical robots performing day to day tasks. However, RPA does not use physical robots to automate tasks. It does not replace humans with actual robots. The term 'robot' in Robotic Process Automation is a software running on physical or virtual machines. Such software help in configuring automation workflows to automate business operations.

How does RPA work?

Robotic Process Automation is operated by running a set of workflow tasks. It provides instructions to the software bots on what to do at each stage. Once this workflow has been programmed into the RPA, the software can then automatically run the program and complete the specified task multiple times as per the requirements.

One of the most common examples of RPA is the 'automated creation of invoices'. It is an essential function for any business, but sometimes, it can be a critical task. This task is usually repetitive, and so can be time-consuming for human employees as they have to deal with hundreds or thousands of such tasks every day.

Because of being repetitive and structured, these processes are ideal to be automated with the help of RPA. In a typical business, the workflow for this process may look like the following sequence:

  • A customer requests for an invoice through mail.
  • The operator checks the mail and opens the relevant billing software.
  • Information is copied from the email into the billing software.
  • The invoice is created using the given information and saved.
  • The original sender is informed that the process is complete.

All these steps can be automated with the help of the RPA tool. As soon as the customer generates an email request, all these steps will be performed automatically by RPA bots, and there will be no need for human input. Preparing and cleansing data in a structured format helps the software bots to easily copy and paste data from one field to another without oversight.

In case of incomplete, inaccurate, or missing data, these software bots can send the acknowledgment to the original sender and request for the correct data. It prevents all kinds of mistakes that may arise as a result of user error.

How does RPA work with the existing systems?

RPA accesses the information from existing IT systems. Several ways can be used by RPA to integrate with the existing applications. It depends on the requirements of the organization to choose the appropriate way of integration.

There are usually two types of integration methods:

Back-end RPA Integrations

With the back-end integration, automation accesses systems and services under the control of a process automation server. It is generally used for unattended automation in which software bots carry out back-office tasks. These tasks may include processing of insurance claims at scale with minimal to no employee intervention.

Front-end RPA Integrations

Front-end integrations provide several different ways by which automation can connect with desktop applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Salesforce CRM, etc. A front-end automation can read/write data and capture events directly from the user interface of the host application, just like humans.

Working of AI-powered RPA

'AI-powered RPA' is a term used for advanced automation technology. It leverages several technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence), OCR (Optical Character Recognition), Text Analytics, and Machine Learning, etc. Attended and unattended RPA is also a part of AI-powered RPA technology.

Machine learning adds abilities to the automation process, which helps in learning, expanding, and continually improving capabilities and certain aspects of its functionality.

An unattended RPA helps in executing tasks and interacting with applications that are independent of human involvement.
Besides, an attended RPA works with humans for providing attended automation.

Attended and unattended RPA can process information from structured databases, whereas cognitive automation can process it from unstructured data sources like scanned documents, emails, and letters. Artificial Intelligence also helps to train bots so that they can handle exceptions. AI uses the same methods that human employees use to handle exceptions in attended automation processes.

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