In this article, we will take a look at what RPA is in actual and also try to understand the architecture of RPA. RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This article will target on describing and defining all the nitty gritty details of what makes a system an RPA and along with it, we will understand on the architecture using which such a software can be built. With no further delay, let us get started with the same.
One of the most difficult decisions that Organizations need to go through is on deciding the ideal toolset that they may apply to their implementation of Robotic Process Automation. Robotic Process Automation tools have a varied number of features that are diverse and also abundant that various leading Vendors claim to fit all Organization sizes. Considering that the needs of Organizations may change always, the following factors will make sure that you understand your Robotic Process Automation tool and its architecture better. To get better insights into the Robotic Process Automation tools and its architecture, we need to follow the following essential aspects which make one Robotic Process Automation tool:
We have dedicated a whole section of the article to this topic, as it is the most important factor that needs to be analyzed. But for the time being, the most important factor that needs to be understood well is the architecture of the particular product. This also helps in understanding the implications on where it should not be used. In conjunction with a formidable automation toolset, the ideal architecture can provide the capability to create complex designs efficiently and effectively.
Usability is the most important factor that plays a major role in the decision making as well, and for an automation tool, the usability should be even more perfect as there is a limited number of steps for configuration concerns. It makes the overall configuration process and the administration process more efficient if it is easier to understand by the others. The easier software can ensure quicker scalability, ease of deployment and higher levels of adoption by the customers.
An ideal Robotic Process Automation tool should be able to integrate with various other systems and technologies that might be deployed in an Organization’s business processing. The stronger the integration capabilities, the better and robust automation are achieved by them.
An effective situation or scenario handling is expected out of an intelligent Robotic Process Automation tool and also requires it refer to the subject matter experts where there is a judgment required or a manual activity is required. This indirectly means that the error handling during automation should be handled in an easier manner and these should also be resolved automatically. If this is not achievable, these scenarios will be audited for inconsistencies in the RPA solution. With solid exception handling, the orchestration of automation in the workplace can operate in a smooth and reliable fashion.
Robotic Process Automation solutions will definitely have its hands on sensitive data of an Organization when an RPA solution is deployed there. And as part of this, there should not be an underestimate over the security features and measures that are quintessential of an automation toolkit. Based on each product, there might be a different way of handling such scenarios but finding the right solution in your case is the most essential part of this activity.
Each and every Robotic Process Automation application holds a feature designed in specific to accelerate and also to simplify the editing of the configuration all the time. This ensures that effective deployment of automation and also adds a lot of support towards building the required internal capabilities. Each Robotic Process Automation tool has its own arsenal of configuration tools tailored specifically to address these configuration management challenges.
Deployment stage only when the configuration and testing guidelines are all crossed. These include the features as like rolling out releases across machines, handle environment-specific variables, provision of security controls for live environment deployments. There are businesses that call for specific deployment scenarios where powerful deployment toolset is always appreciated.
Stronger the support from the Vendor of a specific Robotic Process Automation tool, the better the resources which facilitate the deployment. The maturity of the Support organizations differs broadly as there are many key players who have their presence in the market already and also the new budding enterprises who want to make their presence felt in this industry. A strong support organization with a robust set of documentation can minimize delays in deployment and strengthen maintenance procedures.
No specific Robotic Process Automation tool can be coined as the perfect fit for every process and Organization, hence the hurdle of selecting the best RPA tool is mostly close to the requirements that you require and the provision that these tools provide. The closest match is what you can proceed with the next set of formalities before making the purchase. Even during deployment, each of the eight components must be properly orchestrated to achieve the full potential of RPA.
Looking at the above details, you should be able to decide on the importance of the architecture of any given Robotic Process Automation tool. To understand this in greater detail, let us take a deeper dive into the specifics of the Robotic Process Automation tool’s architecture. The following block diagram gives you a brief depiction of a typical Robotic Process Automation solution and also to its architecture. By the very first look, you can make yourselves realize that it is not a single tool but it is a combination of various tools, platforms and also various infrastructures elements to form a complete Robotic Process Automation tool or a solution. Let us now take a deeper look at the high-level details of each of these blocks in the solution architecture given as below:
Robotic Process Automation is well suited for enterprises and enterprise applications like ERP solutions (example, SAP, Siebel or Massive data processing or records processing applications as like Mainframes). Most of these applications are data-centric and also data intensive with loads and loads of set up and repetitive process activities.
Most of the important capabilities that are expected to be available in any of the Robotic Process Automation tools are given as follows:
Robotic Process Automation in the cloud always acts as a shared repository to ensure storage of all the software robots and also the RPA based resources using the tool. These RPA assets can further be shared across software robots (as repeatable sub-processes) library. Scheduling, Distributing and Monitoring the execution of software robots are the features, capability provided by a Robotic Process Automation platform. Given all the information available about RPA assets and executions, RPA platform further provides the ability to develop meaningful analytics about your software robots and their execution statistics.
Robotic Process Automation execution infrastructure can sometimes be a bank of parallel physical or virtual lab machines, which can be controlled based on the usage patterns. Scaling up or down the number of machines in parallel to achieve the task of automation can also be done, and this can be left unattended to for as long as you like (as this requires no further human interaction or intervention).
Configuration management is needed for versioning of RPA assets as the underlying application on which software robots are developed may constantly be updated to introduce newer versions, and so would the RPA assets and software robots. Also, as you scale up RPA implementation efforts and multiple members in your team are developing RPA assets at the same time, and given that there are assets that are shareable and reusable across different software robots- it is obvious that source code management capabilities are needed to allow branching and merging of RPA assets.
The diagram below accentuates the understanding that one has over Robotic Process Automation to the next level, providing a better depiction of the RPA tool as a layered design and also explains each and every layer in the Robotic Process Automation tool’s architecture. Benefits of each of these layers are also taken care in the diagram, which also accentuates the already existing understanding of the software architecture. This also goes about telling that Robotic Process Automation is not just a single tool that we talk about, but it is a combination of various layers of applications and tools that come together to make this whole system and the architecture.
The below depiction is how an RPA solution can always be fed on the feedback, to make the automation model more efficient. The 4 stages of an application where a Robotic Process Automation tool has been EDUCATED to perform a certain number of mundane monotonous rule-based repetitive tasks. Once the software robots are well educated, you may want to CONSULT your business users on any specific modifications to the already covered business scenarios. Once the consultation process is concluded, you EXECUTE the automation model to ensure your automation is always running and in turn, the tasks that are configured via this automation is performed.
On a certain number of successful execution of these software robots, you perform a retrospection to understand and also identify key areas where there can be better suggestions implemented so as to perform these tasks in an even more efficient and effective way. The final goal of this Robotic Process Automation model is to achieve the best-suited business automation model that suits the business requirements and needs.
Many RPA vendors provide RPA tool, platform and infrastructure either as a single unified solution or as separate solutions. It may be a good option to buy most of these offerings from the same vendor for better integration. If you are planning to use the free RPA tool, you may not get a fully featured RPA platform and execution infrastructure capabilities but nonetheless, you get something at no cost.
There isn’t a tool agnostic RPA platform available at the moment, it may be a good idea that such a product is made available in the market in future by an existing RPA vendor or service provider. Look for configuration management capabilities in the RPA tool and RPA platform you choose. This may not be a problem early days but as you scale up this is very much a desirable feature.
In this article, we have seen and also discussed what RPA is and also where can RPA be applied. We have taken it a step further and also discussed a bit on how we can go about implementing RPA as well. Extending the discussion we have also tried to get better insights on what different constituents are required to implement a successful RPA as well.
Hope this article was clear enough to provide the required understanding about RPA and also have imbibed the most important details about itself. If you have any further questions or if you have any further feedback on this writing of this article, please do comment with your thoughts.
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