Have you ever worked on a task that includes excessive Excel clicking, multiple copy-pasting, or migrating data from one application to another – merely fingertips and a strong will at your disposal?
We bet you have.
And we bet you figured that there must be a better way. A way that doesn’t rely solely on you.
Well, there is.
Robotic Process Automation (or RPA for friends) is a new-age technology that does this kind of boring job for you.
But only to a certain extent.
So, what isn't RPA?
Sometimes, to better understand the scope of a term, it’s important to know what it doesn’t cover. So, let’s start with the most common misconception.
RPA isn’t an artificial intelligence
Software robots cannot think or recognize voices. They cannot make decisions on their own. They cannot self-learn or become smarter in any way.
The best they can do is follow clear rules and predefined structures. Which is a good thing because they can’t mess up. They act under the instructions they get from their human friends. Nothing more. And nothing less.
Their motto is: “Show me how to do the task once – and I’ll do it the same way every time until you tell me otherwise.”
Anyhow, Artificial Intelligence can be added to Robotic Automation. In that case, we are talking about Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) which includes computer vision, cognitive automation, and/or machine learning.
More about IPA’s superpowers, read here.
RPA isn’t a physical robot
Yes, there is “robot” in “robotic process automation” but in a software, not hardware way. The only space software robots take up and their home is a functional windows machine – the only precondition to their existence.
Walking and talking robots call for entirely different know-how. RPA (Robotic Process Automation) isn’t part of IoT (the Internet of Things). Since we know nothing about creating physical robots, we are going back to other things software robots aren’t in 3, 2…
RPA isn’t BPM, ERP, or process optimization
Business Process Management is a holistic approach to optimizing and automating business processes from start to finish. In the meantime, RPA is a technology that deals with smaller, repetitive tasks and a tool that extends and enhances BPM’s essential purpose. Altogether, BPM covers strategy and tactics; RPA supports execution and operations.
Enterprise Resource Planning unites business processes and it does automate them. However, RPA can improve those same processes involving ERP and add speed to the enterprise architecture. More precisely, RPA is a perfect tool to assist as the middleman between legacy software and ERP applications.
Process Optimization isn’t directly linked to RPA but is rather the main idea and goal behind developing software robots. It is a discipline of adapting processes to perfect their features. Before developing software robots, it sure helps to optimize a process. Then the process can be automated most efficiently.
Although Robotic Process Automation, Business Process Automation and Process Optimization have some overlap, it's important to remember that they are not synonymous.
This infographic might help you understand the differences.