Understanding Desktop Automation

Desktop automation refers to bots used to automate repetitive, mundane tasks. This virtual assistant bot lives in the background on a user’s desktop until manually triggered. 

Defining Desktop Automation

Desktop automation, sometimes referred to as attended automation or attended robotic process automation (RPA), is a form of intelligent automation that enables organizations to automate repetitive tasks on a computer, keyboard, or mouse. It has the capacity to replicate and automate repetitive human actions—from clicking buttons or links and data entry to copying and pasting. 

Desktop Automation vs. Web Automation

Desktop automation’s domain is a user’s desktop computer, mouse, or keyboard and can be used offline. 

Web automation’s domain is a web browser or web application and must be connected to the internet to function.

Desktop Automation vs. RPA

Desktop automation must be manually triggered, which is also referred to as attended RPA. 

Unattended RPA is a bot triggered automatically (versus manually) to complete an end-to-end process. Rather than requiring human intervention, it follows a pre-determined, rules-based process and operates independently on a preset schedule or as triggered by events. 

What Is Desktop Test Automation?

While many software solutions are cloud- or web-based, there are still plenty of organizations that run core business processes in a desktop environment. 

Because there are fewer users involved and programs are offline, there is a perception that a desktop is more secure. It’s for this reason that the desktop continues to play a strong role in business processes, and therefore maintains its position as a desirable testing environment. 

Desktop test automation automates software solution testing within a desktop environment, versus a web- or cloud-based environment. 

Take a look at 3 examples of automation in action.

Benefits of Desktop Automation

By automating repetitive tasks on a computer, keyboard, or mouse, organizations significantly super-charge human efficiency and overall productivity. 

Daily frustrations ease for workers who no longer have to tediously jump from app to app or repeat the same tiresome actions over and over, like clicking buttons or inputting data into fields. Instead, people can prioritize higher value work by focusing their energy and creativity on problem-solving and innovation. This results in higher productivity and overall quality while reducing human error. 

How Desktop Automation Works

Desktop automation enables processes to run more efficiently and quickly for actions involving a user’s desktop computer, mouse, or keyboard. Bot scripts are created either with graphical designers or automatically discovered task sequences using AI. Sequences could be logins, clicks, data copied or pasted, etc. and reflect the user’s typical steps to complete a series of tasks. When deployed, those steps are automatically executed upon a trigger event such as a data field value, an email being received, a folder being populated, or other conditions.

How to Implement Desktop Automation

Desktop automation can either be captured by manually inputting or by recording desired actions. 

Identify processes and tasks to automate

The first step is to identify the opportunities for efficiency through automation. This is often an overlooked aspect of implementing an automation strategy, resulting in costly missed opportunities. 

Consider the actions that show up again and again as repetitive (e.g., copy/paste, data entry into fields, switching between apps, etc.). It’s best to brainstorm with actual users so that you understand the experience of the people who will benefit most from your desktop automation efforts.

Choose the right desktop automation

Take the time to get the right tool in place. Rushing without adequate research and careful consideration will compromise the end goal. Some tools are designed for a singular purpose, while others are designed to be multipurpose, i.e., able to operate broadly across many systems and programming languages. 

Demo and try out tools to better understand the full breadth of their functionality. Do your homework: Find out if plug-ins or add-ons are supported and what the technical requirements are. Ask questions. Talk to product users.

Train users

As with any new tool, process, or initiative, if users don’t feel comfortable using something new, they won’t use it, plain and simple. Inadequate training spells doom for widespread adoption and nullifies any subsequent benefits down the road.

Make sure users have the documentation and training they need to get started and feel confident. Sharing the business strategy loops individuals into a team mindset, so let people know what’s at stake.

Measure performance

Understanding the impact of your automated tasks and activities is key for making data-driven decisions that impact your organization. To do so, you’ll need to measure and monitor the utilization, efficiency, and impact of automated workflows. These insights are crucial for claiming project success or failure, and for optimizing automations that deliver even greater outcomes. 

Desktop Automation Use Cases

Desktop automation can be applied to any industry and across every part of the business. 

Customer service and management

Quickly and efficiently managing customer issues increases satisfaction and loyalty. Desktop automation helps employees by taking care of repetitive administrative tasks, so your people can get to the heart of customer problems.

HR data management

Companies of any size amass employee data, like employee history, payroll, travel expenses, training certifications, and more. Automating mundane processes like sorting and organizing HR data, as well as employee onboarding and offboarding tasks, frees up HR staff to focus on the people behind the data.

Are you ready to discover what desktop automation can do for your organization? Request a demo.