If your technology newsfeed tracks robotic process automation (RPA), you already know two key points. First, it’s a red-hot topic. And second, it’s not about mechanical robots picking boxes from warehouse shelves or welding automobile bodies.
RPA bots aren’t photogenic. They’re invisible bits of software. But they are powerful. They mimic human keystrokes and mouse movements to execute repetitive manual processes at lightning speed, without making errors or getting tired or sick.
RPA is red-hot because enterprises in a wide variety of industries are adopting it to dramatically accelerate processes such as updating bank records and transferring data from paper forms into digital customer information systems. RPA’s soaring popularity has led scores of vendors to create their own offerings and rewarded the leaders with huge market valuations.
The end-all and be-all of automation? Maybe not.
That said, if you listen to these leaders, you’ve also heard a couple of myths about RPA. First, that it’s simple to implement, and second, that it’s the answer to every automation challenge. If you’d like a broader perspective, make sure to attend our upcoming webinar, The Real Truth on RPA and its Role in the Process Automation Landscape on Thursday, Aug. 1, at 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT.
In the webinar, Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Craig Le Clair and Nintex Chief Evangelist Ryan Duguid will discuss the automation landscape, where RPA fits within it, and how to make sure you’re using the right automation tools for your needs.
End-to-end process improvement
A key point is that RPA is just one of several types of automation tools. Another is workflow automation, which utilizes APIs and micro-services to link applications and process steps together. While RPA is good for automating older applications that pre-date APIs, using workflows for API-enabled applications is a more sophisticated approach.
Process automation also includes capabilities such as document generation and data capture using electronic forms. These types of tools integrate the human experience with the latest technology, ensuring that business processes are flexible, intelligent, and able to cater to your businesses’ needs.
Another important point to remember is that RPA, although powerful, has certain limitations. Because RPA bots mimic human keystrokes, they tend to “break” when an application interface changes. Companies using RPA must be mindful of this when they roll out application updates.
It’s also important to take an end-to-end approach to automation. This starts with process management – discovering, mapping, and documenting your processes so you can prioritize the most important ones.
When you’ve done that, you can easily see which tool or tools will be most effective for the specific processes you need to automate. Once your automated processes are running, you need analytics to show when, where, how often, and how quickly they run, so you can see and address bottlenecks. I
It’s this closed-loop approach – manage, automate, optimize – that leads to the best results in process improvement. Using this approach, you can use RPA to its fullest potential, and use other forms of automation where they are best suited.
There is much more to learn on this topic. For a deep dive, please join our webinar on Thursday.
Register here. You’ll be glad you attended!