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© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Table of Contents

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Basics 5


What is RPA? 5
How does RPA work? 5
What can RPA do? 6
What is not RPA? 6
Why RPA? Why Now? 7
History of RPA – Process automation then and now 7
The promise of RPA. Benefits and Challenges 11
Benefits 11
Challenges 13
RPA Types and Tools 16
Types of RPA 16
RPA Tools Overview 19
Top 3 RPA tools 19
Other RPA tools 20
RPA Tool Components and Architecture 21
RPA Tool Components 22
RPA Tool Architecture 24
How to choose RPA Tools 26
Applying RPA in your Organization 31
Typical RPA Bots / Use Cases 31
Finance and Accounting 31
Human Resources 32
Customer Service 33
Information Technology 34
RPA Process identification 34
Implementing RPA in your Organization 40
RPA Best practices 45
Taking steps to create your first Bot 49
UiPath Community edition 49
UiPath Studio 51

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


UiPath Activities 53
UiPath Variables 54
UiPath Recorder 55

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Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Basics
What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation or RPA is a process automation technology that uses
software robots (or bots) to carry out tasks at a computer. They work through
existing screens and other interfaces to automate the tasks. Since they mostly
work through existing screens, it usually looks like they are emulating a human at
the computer.

Note that RPA works through existing interfaces and so there is minimal impact
to existing systems. Think for a minute what that means – you can confidently
introduce RPA knowing that it would not break any of your existing systems.

I find it easier to think of RPA as new talent – Digital Assistants. RPA tools pick
up whatever technology is required to get your process automated to the extent it
can. It may be screen scraping to AI and beyond in the future. Top RPA tools
provide an easy way to Configure, Schedule and Manage these digital
assistants (Bots).

Tech Tip: Each RPA “Bot” usually need a separate computer (usually a virtual
server). The bot as such consumes very less space (in KB!) and interfaces with an
Application server which is beefy to carry out the tasks. Some installations also
have a separate database server. This is from experience with Blue Prism and is
similar for other RPA though terms are different. There are newer tools that can
have more than 1 bot on a server.

How does RPA work?


The best way to visualize would be to think of a person working on his computer
and doing his daily job by clicking through computer screens, sending emails, etc.
Now, what if the computer clicks through, enters the required data and performs
the same work automagically? That is what RPA enables.

If you haven’t wrapped your head around it yet, don’t worry. Here’s an example
to help you visualize Robotic Process Automation.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Let us say that Bob is responsible for processing invoices in SAP. He would log
in into SAP, go to the specific transaction and enter the invoice details one by
one. Now if RPA were to carry out the same task, it would log in automatically
and carry out the tasks without Bob having to do this repetitive work.

What can RPA do?


RPA can be used to perform many business and IT tasks. They carry out
individual tasks and can also string these simple tasks together and perform more
complex tasks.

Here are a few more examples:

● Logging into applications automatically


● Open multiple applications and transfer data from one system to
another
● Open and Copy-paste data from a spreadsheet to a Form
● Running transactions on your ERP (e.g. SAP transactions)
● Read semi-structured and unstructured data from documents
● Connect to an application over API and carry our transactions
● Opening emails and attachments
● Sending out emails/notifications
● Moving files and folders
● Read and write to databases directly

Do you see the wide array of tasks RPA can do? Most of the tasks that a human
does at a computer and is well defined, can be automated with RPA. The
processes that can be automated are only limited by your imagination.

Tip: Note that the bots are performing tasks and usually not end to end processes.
That is the realm of Business Process Automation (or BPM). With RPA, BPM is
becoming cool again. We also now have new low code BPM vendors like Appian
which is now working with all RPA tools.

What is not RPA?


Any talk about Robots conjures up images of bots like C-3PO. The word Robots
has got a bit of baggage. People start imagining a robot that would come do their

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


job. They are surprised to find that this is just a software that sits on a server and
performs the tasks. So RPA is not a physical bot.

Many people think that RPA is just Screen scraping or Macros or Scripts. While
RPA uses these technologies, the whole is bigger than the parts. RPA brings many
of these technologies together to drive efficiencies that are attractive for business.
so, I would say it is not just Screen Scraping.

Tip: Many of the core RPA practitioners do not consider RPA as Artificial
Intelligence (AI) (like the Deloitte image above states). From an investment
perspective though, RPA is categorized as part of AI. UiPath is now rumored to
be at $7B, AA’s last valuation was $3B and should be near around UiPath
valuation now. Blue Prism is listed on the London stock exchange with a market
cap of about 1.6B (Apr 2019).

Why RPA? Why Now?


As many of us know, and from valuations above, we can see that RPA is pretty
hot. Why is it so?

I think the reason is that people see RPA as the first step to using new or
advancing AI technologies and paradigms to automate labor-intensive tasks.
Therefore, RPA brings a level of transformation that is much more than disparate
automation with scripts, macros, etc. RPA brings these advancing technologies
together to enable end to end process automation. This helps free up lots of
hours which is returned to the business. This enables savings for the business
and fast Return on Investment (ROI).

Tip: Typical 1-year ROI is around 300%, Productivity is increased by around


1500% and Human errors are reduced 100% improving Quality.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


History of RPA – Process automation then and now
RPA emerged in the 2000s – Blue prism released their first product in 2003,
UiPath and Automation anywhere released their automation libraries around the
same time (all companies were founded a bit earlier). As per Alastair Bathgate,
CEO of Blue prism: “We started focusing on the BPO space as a route to market..
.”. UiPath also started seeing traction for their product with an Indian BPO
company. So, RPA started off as a way to reduce costs in Business Process
Outsourcing and moved to Shared Services, IT Outsourcing, and other Business
areas.
Outsourcing reduces expenses by moving lower-level manual tasks and processes
to cheaper labor. They were looking at different levers to continue to deliver
annual cost savings to their customers. In an effort to continue to reduce costs,
RPA started out improving the repetitive processes carried out by these
Outsourcing providers.
History of top 3 RPA tools

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has resulted from the use of multiple
technologies to solve business problems. It started by using the humble legacy
technologies like screen scraping combined with the Automation workflow
software. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the cognitive aspects also
have started showing up in RPA tools.

Different RPA providers have taken different paths technologically and have
evolved into AI unicorns that we see today. All companies have worked with
early customers to improve their Digital workforce or bot offerings. Here is a
quick history of the top three RPA Vendors.

Blue Prism

Blue Prism started off to create an “outsourced workforce” for BPOs.

They claim to have coined the term “robotic process automation”. As per
Bathgate, “We were doing robotic process automation before it was called robotic
process automation..”

Blue Prism was focused on creating a Digital workforce from the beginning –
they were thinking towards solving the problem of doing things an outsourced
robot would do including doing the work and scheduling them.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Blue Prism is therefore built around that. They have a Microsoft Visio like
interface to configure the tasks to be performed by the Bot. These Bots can then
be deployed and scheduled using an admin console.

Blue Prism is morphing into a technology platform. They have been calling it
“Connected RPA”. The aim of the platform is to provide access and foundation
for intelligent automation – across multiple industries, companies of all sizes and
across every geography.

Tech Tip: Blue Prism is built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. Blue Prism
robot relies on business objects to interact with applications. A business object
acts as an adapter to the user interface of specific applications. Blue Prism is one
of the few Object-based RPA tools and therefore does not have a recorder.

UiPath

UiPath (then DeskOver) started off by building automation libraries and software
development kits. These automation libraries were quite popular and used by
companies such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft. These libraries are still
embedded in some of their products.

It appears that UiPath then set out Productizing these libraries. Initially, their
product was not finding much traction. An Indian BPO company that was doing a
pilot project to find the best provider of RPA technology discovered them.
Through this opportunity, they discovered the BPO world and the repetitive work
that can be solved through their product – a product-market fit was finally
realized.

Around 2012, UiPath (DeskOver) launched the first UiPath Desktop Automation
product line that specifically targeted the RPA market. They had just realized the
market fit with RPA and started putting its resources into building a platform for
training and orchestrating software robots.

Their Platform – the UiPath Enterprise RPA Platform – thus has UiPath Robots
which are designed in a UiPath Studio and can are centrally managed from UiPath
Orchestrator.

Tech Tip: UiPath is based on Microsoft Workflow Foundation which is again a


Microsoft .NET technology meant to create applications that execute an ordered
business process. This is a bit of concern as this is probably not on Microsoft’s
Azure roadmap.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Automation Anywhere

Automation Anywhere started off as Tethys Solutions and was founded in 2003.
The name “Tethys” comes from the Greek goddess of water. Their vision was to
make business process automation be as ubiquitous as water. Quite a great vision
and they seem to be succeeding to a good extent on that.

Mihir and the team were aiming to replace the scripting applications that were
manually done within organizations. Their product Automation Anywhere
allowed for the creation of business process automation designed by the user.
They focused on supporting all aspects of end-to-end business processes.

As per Mihir, they created the product (Automation Anywhere), launched it and
went out for a coffee break. When they came back, they were surprised to find
that someone from Australia had already bought it.

Automation Anywhere still looks quite like the product they released around
2009! The vision is remarkable. They documented the process and also had a
built-in ROI calculator!

Automation Anywhere has also started calling it a platform – “Automation


Anywhere Enterprise – The RPA platform for the future of business process
automation”. Their core product works like other RPA with a studio to configure
workflows and a “Control Center” to deploy and manage the bots. They also have
a product called IQ Bot – which is RPA plus AI which mainly reads unstructured
data now.

Tech Tip: Automation Anywhere is also built on Windows .NET framework.


You can see that all the top RPA tools are built on Microsoft technologies.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


The promise of RPA. Benefits and Challenges
The promise of RPA is that it will take away our manual, repetitive and mundane
work. RPA is an opportunity to automate all the unexciting work you have been
doing and go do some exciting work!

You can now gain time to spend on uniquely human activities of connecting and
delighting your team, boss and customers.

Having said that, RPA has its fair share of challenges as well that we need to be
aware of and take steps to overcome.

Here are a few benefits and challenges we have seen with RPA.

Benefits
1. Real Savings – Improve your P&L

RPA delivers better productivity at much lesser costs.


1a. Improved Productivity

You can usually automate 60% to 90% of the effort of a typical process, which
leaves the remaining 10% to 40% exceptions to be dealt with by Employees.
Overall the automation will increase the output for each of your employees.
1b. Rapid Results and In-year benefits

This is a key promise of RPA as the tools are usually low code platforms and so
the time taken from conception to deployment is in weeks.

Typical Agile Bot implementation can be completed as early as 2 weeks to as


much as 8 weeks. Having pre-built components and bot stores also enable faster
implementations.
1c. Low start-up costs

Each of the bot licenses can cost between 5K to 12K and the bot can perform the
work of about 2-3 FTE depending on the complexity. Considering an agile build
process and quick implementation, the start-up costs are low.
1d. Reduced Processing costs

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The costs of processing are drastically reduced – the bot costs around 1/3rd the
cost of an Onshore FTE and 1/5th the cost of an Offshore FTE.
2. Improved Operations – Move to Excellence

You can complement existing operational excellence programs with RPA.


2a. Improved Quality and Accuracy

Manual errors are reduced for the automated processes. The bots perform the
work with 100% accuracy, leaving only a few errors in the exception scenarios
performed by people. Since the errors are reduced the cost of fixing them
(Rework) is also reduced.
2b. Improved Compliance

RPA allows businesses to take control of executing their processes internally in


place of outsourcing and offshoring. The RPA activities are saved in a log where
they can be reviewed and monitored at any time. This means that you have a
greater degree of oversight and control over your operations. You are therefore
ready to deal with compliance issues more easily if and when they arise.
2c. Improved Service Delivery

RPA allows for improved service delivery performance by removing common


service delivery risks like sickness and rework.

The bot is also able to switch from process to process depending on the demand.
You can also add or reduce the Digital workforce as required to meet demands.
This brings flexibility to manage service delivery.
3. Motivated Employees – Leverage talent

Keep your team motivated to address business challenges and ensure customer
satisfaction.
3a. Improved Customer Service

RPA can reduce demand for your service representative by taking over avoidable
contacts like queries and follow-up.

RPA also allows reps to spend less time updating information across several
systems ensuring that no system will be missed when adding new customer
information.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA also works 24 X 7 without holidays or breaks allowing for longer processing
hours.
3b. Reduced Monotonous work

You can free your staff from rules-based, repetitive tasks and move them to more
stimulating and satisfying jobs. These higher-level jobs are more rewarding and
motivate your people to innovate and improve your business.

These were a summary of benefits. Note that these benefits are subject to proper
implementation and ensuring proper change management. There is initial
resistance and if that is not addressed, you may not be able to demonstrate the
benefits.

We have come across this and other challenges as we went about implementing
RPA. Here are eight of them.

Challenges
Just as you understand the benefits of automation, and have secured management
approval to invest, it would be wise to understand the possible challenges.
1. Employee resistance

This is one of the biggest challenges I have seen to implement RPA. We have real
benefits but people at all levels fear job loss and its impacts. A proper Change
management plan with education and frequent communication is crucial. It should
keep the employees informed right from the POC/POV stage. This is essential to
successful adoption.
2. Tool Limitations

Let us face it – RPA is still an emerging space and the tools do have their
limitations that you discover as you get into the weeds of implementation:
● Many use cases are hampered by the inability to handle unstructured
formats reliably. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is improving,
especially with AI/ML but still has challenges. e.g. complex formats,
handwritten documents, etc.
● Intelligence (AI/ML) is starting to get incorporated into the tools. We
may still need to wait some more time before we see truly cognitive

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automation. AI could remove a lot of RPA limitations (including OCR)
soon though.
3. Interacting Platform Changes

RPA works through existing interfaces – mostly screens – which can change as
the application is upgraded or enhanced. This could break the automation if the
RPA tools or the interacting application does not provide the necessary flexibility.
The best solution, for now, is to ensure proper coordination with application
development teams or vendors to take care of such changes ahead.
4. Process variation and Complexity

RPA is simple but not easy. One of the biggest problems crops up when the teams
discover that the processes are more complex than expected. This is generally
caused by multiple exceptions and system variations. Unfortunately, this is not
understood until the Process discovery or even the definition phase. It is
important to understand the processes, look for ways to Consolidate,
Standardize, Optimize and Automate.
5. RPA Licensing complexity

Many of the RPA tool vendors would like to lock you into their platform. So, they
have complex licensing and pricing. Organizations get into a situation if these
licensing complexities and specializations were not fully considered. It is essential
to understand the long-term impact of the RPA platform you are considering right
from POC/POV stage.
6. Bot Ownership

RPA is a business tool and ownership should be with the business with IT
involvement. If IT considers this as another software tool and goes through
typical evaluation cycles, the Business benefits may be delayed or even be a non-
starter.

This is a major mindset shift and probably the most important one for successful
RPA implementations.
7. Right stakeholder involvement

It is important to ensure all Stakeholders are involved right from the beginning.
Key stakeholders include:

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● IT: IT’s role in RPA implementations is to ensure proper technical
governance (e.g. Hosting, Security, etc.). If you do not involve IT early,
you could have issues when it comes to IT architecture, infrastructure, and
security.
● Procurement: Procurement needs to be involved to understand the
benefits of RPA and be co-creators of business value.
● Audit/Compliance: It is advisable to have compliance teams be involved
from the POC/POV stage so that they are onboard and help nip
compliance issues early.
8. Strategic Direction

Many organizations go with the hype and jump in only to be disappointed later. It
is important to have sponsorship and executive buy-in on the RPA journey and
Roadmap. All the stakeholders should jointly own the results. This is easier if this
is a strategic direction and everyone is rowing in the same direction.

I like to say that there should be a “Pull” from each of the business groups
involved rather than being a “Push”. It’s much easier that way.

Some or all of these challenges have resulted in organizations stopping their


implementation after the first wave of bots. Being cognizant of these challenges
and addressing them ahead could help you be one of the RPA-AI scale
champions.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Types and Tools
Types of RPA
There are two ways a process can be automated with RPA – with people initiating
it or run completely without any interventions.

There are also two types of tools based on the approach and technology used –
Object-oriented or Script based.

Let us look at these types of RPA and how you can go about choosing what is
right for your use cases.

Let us start with Automation types.

Types of RPA Automation and how to choose

There are mainly two kinds of RPA automation based on how the software helps
you automate. One of them is like an assistant that you call upon to help you
complete the tasks and the other kind of automation is mostly for back-office
work. What does that mean?

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Attended automation

These are the assistants that run on your computer and help you complete a part of
the tasks that you are performing. For eg. if you usually search and copy paste
data from one application to multiple applications, you can invoke an attended
RPA to take over just these set of activities. The control is then returned to you by
RPA to carry out the next set of tasks. This type of automation usually helps
agents at call centers.

Imagine – with this, the long, repetitive processes are replaced with single clicks!
This greatly reduces the time it takes to train your representatives. Attended RPA
can hence reduce the average handling times improving your customer
experience.

Tech tip: Attended automation solutions are installed on individual workstations.


Many times, these desktops differ in terms of resolutions, display settings, and
even Graphic cards. This may lead to failure in the automation on a desktop while
it was working well on another one.

Comment: Blue prism considers this type of automation as Robotic Desktop


Automation (RDA) which they say has a higher TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
They consider unattended automation as real RPA.

Open Span (now Pega) though thinks attended is a better form of automation.
Their founder pushes for one bot per employee concept.

Unattended Automation

If you do not need a representative or worker interaction during the execution of


the process, you can run the complete process on a back-end server. This is what
happens in Unattended automation.

In this type of automation, workflows are self-triggered and run on servers. They
run to predetermined schedules or real time and are available 24 x 7. In the
case of unattended automation, all you would see of an automated task would be
the outputs.

For eg. For invoice processing, all you would see is a report indicating the
invoices that could not be processed automatically. You can review the report and
only work on the invoices that need your intervention.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


The automated tasks can be scheduled or started through control rooms. You can
allocate tasks, adjust priorities, manage queues and intervene in case of
performance issues through the control room.

Comment: UiPath and Automation Anywhere have attended and unattended


automation. UiPath thinks that attended automation would overtake unattended in
2019. Blue Prism is big on Unattended Automation and calls it “Enterprise RPA”

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Tools Overview
Many RPA tools have sprung up in various niches thanks to the hype and
investment in RPA. With so many different RPM tools, it’s a bit difficult to
understand which tool works best for your needs.

We looked at the history of the top three RPA tools above. Here is an overview of
these and other RPA tools in the market.

Top 3 RPA tools

UiPath

UiPath is an RPA tool that is easy to learn and get started. Your team can
download the tool, learn from their academy and get going. There is a decent
community and many programmers if your team like to take external help. UiPath
has a comparatively easy licensing model and is easy to procure as well.

UiPath Go! brings everything together to get started quickly. It has the Academy,
Components and Community.

Automation Anywhere

Automation Anywhere has a good depth of functionality and features while being
mostly user-friendly. You can get started fairly quickly and scale with this
decently robust tool. Automation Anywhere has a complex licensing model and is
perceived to be costly.

Automation Anywhere has a bot store that provides an elegant list of bots that you
can get started with.

Blue Prism

Blue Prism is a robust tool in the pack. If you are looking for a safe bet, Blue Prim
is the tool. They are one of the pioneers in the field and even claim to have coined
the term RPA. Blue prism has an object-oriented architecture which helps manage

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


reusable components better. Overall is a great tool if you use a developer but
lacks a recorder if your team is less technically savvy and like to get things
moving quickly.

Other RPA tools

Workfusion

They came into limelight for offering completely free RPA. With the free RPA
Express version, you can write scripts to automate tasks. The free version is
missing key features though and you usually have to upgrade to Smart Process
Automation (SPA) for Enterprise level use.

Pega Systems

Pegasystems is a business process management (BPM) provider that added RPA


with the acquisition of Openspan. Openspan uses robotic automation to ease the
burden on customer service representatives (CSRs) by automating routine desktop
tasks, thus increasing employee productivity and job satisfaction.

Nice

NICE is an Israeli enterprise software company – one of the largest technology


organizations in Israel. It started its RPA journey with the acquisition of Eglue in
2010. NICE started as workflow automation business for Contact centers. It
continues to be strong in that space with a chat-based automation.

Kryon

Kryon has tools to mine processes within the organization highlighting the
processes that can be automated. It has strong integration with ABBY, the leaders
in OCR. Kryon uses computer vision to support Citrix which is a traditionally
weak area for many RPA vendors.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Kofax

Kofax has a bunch of products one of which is Kapow RPA which was acquired
in 2013. One of the strengths of Kofax is the ability to bring these various
products with BPM and OCR capabilities to power the automation. Kofax is
strong in the content management space and Kofax RPA is a tool that is used to
enhance Content management smarts.

Antworks

AntWorks’ is a new and interesting company that claims to have an integrated


Cognitive machine learning and autonomous automation in a single stack. Their
main product, ANTstein is designed to understand structured as well as semi-
unstructured data. The tool also has broader cognitive capabilities that include
pattern recognition, photos, and images.

Redwood

Automating inefficiencies in Oracle and SAP ERP is what Redwood Software


focuses on. It reduces manual labor in the supply chain, logistics, forecasting,
eCommerce delivery, and financial posting. They have a catalog of Oracle, SAP,
and other automation for faster deployment.

Softomotive

Softomotive is one of the pioneers in automation even before RPA was a thing!
They have been in the automation space since 2005. They provide a standalone
serverless product called WinAuotmation (attended automation) and a
comparatively new server-based RPA called ProcessRobot (unattended
automation).

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Tool Components and Architecture
RPA tools have different component names and architecture, but the overall
concepts are similar.

RPA Tool Components


You configure your workflows within the studio and attach them to the Bots
which is deployed and managed using a Controller. The terms for these
components may change like the Controller may be called Orchestrator or Control
room but the core philosophy of the RPA tools remains the same.

Here are the three key components of RPA tools:

RPA Studio

The Studio or Bot creator is the place where you configure the “Bots”. The
configuration is some form of a workflow. To visualize better, I like to tell people
that the interface is “Visio” like for most tools.

We will discuss the Studio in detail in the final part of this Ebook. Here is a
screenshot of the UiPath studio where you configure the Bots:

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Control Room

The control room is a central place to manage the Bots. Here are three
components of a Control room.

1. Bot Allocation

Once you build the automation workflow, RPA Control center provides a
way to allocate these tasks to “bots”. This is usually performed by
administrators who select which tasks a machine should perform and on
what schedule.

The administrators allocate the tasks to make the most out of the bot
licenses available and the machines (usually VMs) available. The best
RPA tools allow for the assignment of tasks in such a manner to balance
the various constraints like Infrastructure, Bots and Schedule.

2. Monitor and Control

The Bots that are deployed in production needs continuous monitoring and
support.

RPA Control center makes it possible for you to monitor, handle and fix
errors.

3. Analytic Dashboard

Many RPA tools display real-time analytics on an “always-on” dashboard.

The dashboard usually has charts and graphs that help you track various
key metrics for RPA. The metrics shown vary from tool to tool.

You can use these metrics to trigger appropriate actions to ensure continuous
Improvement in your automation

Here is a screenshot of the Automation Anywhere control room:

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Bot

This is the executable that runs on your computer and carries out the automation.
It is a Windows executable file that takes the configurations you did in Studio and
executes the instructions.

RPA Tool Architecture


We will be going a bit deeper into UiPath as part of this Seminar. So, here is a
high-level view of the RPA components and architecture for UiPath.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Source UiPath

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


How to choose RPA Tools
Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s therefore important to
understand which features are important for your use cases and select the
appropriate tool. For e.g. If your use cases have a lot of unstructured data to
handle, select the tool that does OCR best.

When you are looking to select a tool for your organization, you may want to look
at all the use cases and see which tool fits best for your use cases in general.

Here are my top 10 criteria to select your RPA tool

Development Environment

RPA tools provide an “OS” for us to develop bots. So, it is important that we have
the best development environment for our needs. What does that mean?

To me, it means three things:

1. Ease of use

One of the most popular features of RPA is that the development is “easy”
as it is within a low-code (or no-code) environment.

So the tool that you choose should ideally be easy to work even for people
in the business who probably do not have much programming knowledge.

Most of the current RPA tools comes with drag-and-drop features which
helps you develop workflows quickly as well as make any changes needed
quickly as well.

2. Separation of logic and functionality

This would help you with the following:

● Reuse of components – build and reuse across your automation


● Help different team members divide the work and work
independently
● Reduce the impact of any changes in future

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


So, tools that allow for better abstraction of work is better.

3. Recorder

Finally, depending on the team you’ve got, a recorder may be a very


useful thing to get the development started quickly.

The recorder can record the initial steps of the workflow based on clicks
and then you can go in and customize the automation to your specific
needs.

A recorder is useful especially if your team does not have much


development background to start with.

Bot Operations

Most of the RPA tools have a control center to deploy and manage automation
solutions as we saw in the Architecture section.

RPA Control center makes it possible for you to monitor, handle and fix errors.
A good tool makes it easy for you to monitor for real-time errors and send out
notifications as required. It also maintains a detailed log of the errors encountered.
This allows for a support team to monitor and fix any errors that may come up in
the automation.

Most RPA tool also ensures you can upgrade the environment and automation
easily when required.

Security and Compliance

Just like any person in the organization, the bots are also likely to handle
information that is sensitive. So, most of the tools have robust security and
compliance measures included.

You may want to have a checklist especially from IT in terms of what security
and compliance requirements you like the tool to meet. A few key security and
compliance considerations I would include are:

● Provision to clearly separate development, testing, and production


environments.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


● Ensure that every RPA access is authenticated.
● Ability to encrypt and secure data in transit and at rest.
● Ensure GDPR compliance to keep track of data that needs to be
deleted under the ‘right to be forgotten’ clause.

Unstructured data/OCR

More than 80% of data in Organizations are in documents and forms. Digitizing
this information is key to enable many automation scenarios.

If this feature is important for your use cases, you may want to look for tools that
provide for more reliable handling of unstructured data. Note that none of the
tools are 100% reliable as of now (May 2019).

Many RPA tools have now graduated to using AI and ML technologies though to
improve the OCR capability of the tool. You may want to check if this improved
OCR comes out of the box or is a separate purchase

VDI/Citrix

In many companies, especially – Outsourcers and BPO – Clients only allow


access to applications remotely due to security considerations. Citrix is one of the
most used virtualization technologies for remote access.

What happens in such a virtualized environment is that RPA is unable to


manipulate the UI elements directly as it’s only receiving a screenshot from
Citrix. Automating use cases that involve Citrix has been one of the major
challenges with RPA tools.

Citrix issues though have reduced quite a bit with the advances in technology. The
RPA tools now use computer vision to detect the screen elements in a more
reliable fashion. You may want to check how reliable the tool is in virtualized
environments if those use cases are important to you.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Process Discovery

Discovering processes suitable for automation has traditionally been a challenge


for RPA projects. Of late, many RPA tool vendors have started including Process
Discovery and Mining in their tools. Some of the tools offer this capability
through a partner.

The process discovery providers claim that the tool collects data while your
employees work on the machines and perform daily tasks. They then use various
technologies from log analysis to AI to document the process and suggest the best
candidates for automation. They also provide you key metrics like time and
money that could be saved.

This is a nascent skill for RPA and the usefulness of this feature depends a lot on
the process data that is available as well as the technology that is used. So you
may want to do your due diligence and see have useful this feature is for your
project.

AI / ML / New Technologies

Including intelligence and emerging technologies in the tools is also a new trend.
You may want to look carefully at your use cases and see if there is a real need
now or in the future to add intelligence or new technologies. You do not want to
pay for these features which could be costly if you do not need them now.

Having said that, a provision to include emerging technologies could help you
continuously improve automation as technology evolves. It’s always advisable to
find a tool that fulfills your current requirements and also has the ability to cater
to your future requirements.

Community & support

As with any purchase, you may want to consider the ability of your vendor to
support you reliably and quickly.

For the people using the tool, a Vibrant Community comes in handy nowadays.
Many times, you get better and faster answers from the community rather than the
official support channels.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Dedicated support teams are still important, and you may want to check how easy
it is to reach them and get fixes for your issues quickly.

A strong community and vendor support backed by detailed documentation can


be very helpful with your RPA initiative.

So, there are multiple types of RPA and it is important the right one for your use.

I would suggest that you have these different types of RPA as well as other
technologies as part of your Automation tool kit. I think it is important to start
with the Business problem that you are looking to solve and then select the right
tool for that use case.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Applying RPA in your Organization
Let us now look at a few use cases that can be addressed with RPA. The objective
is to give you a sense of what can be accomplished with RPA.

Typical RPA Bots / Use Cases


Due to the nature of the technology, we have seen that there are specific use cases
that work best with RPA. It is usually best to stick to processes that are well
defined and have least exceptions paths as you start out on your automation
initiative.
Choosing the wrong Process has been one of the major reasons for failed
Automation initiatives. We now have a database of processes that are fit for RPA.
Here are a few use cases from the database categorized by business function.

Finance and Accounting


RPA can fully automate 42% of the F&A tasks as per a McKinsey study. Note
that it says “fully” automate these tasks. Another 19% of the tasks can be mostly
automated as per the same study.

● Invoice processing: Capture invoice data from scanned invoices or


electronic files and process the same in ERP systems. The invoice
processing time can be reduced by unto 60 to 80 %.
● Payment matching & processing: Bank lockbox payments received
from various sources are matched against open invoices. These are
then processed in the ERP system and remittance receipts generated.
● Automate journal entries: RPA can process email, perform
compliance checks and process the Journal entries in ERP (SAP,
Oracle, etc.), and notify the requestor.
● Account reconciliations: RPA can automate the download of sub-
account balances, perform validations and create balancing journal
entries to handle discrepancies
● 3-way matching: Matching of invoices to purchase orders (PO) and
goods received notes (GRN) can be automated with RPA. This ensures
accurate payment and validates different parts of the supply chain.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


● Automate workflow and approvals: RPA can be configured for
rules-based auto approval in the AP system. Any exceptions are raised
to the appropriate person for manual approvals.
● Financial planning and analysis: Prepare forecasts automatically
using historical and market data, load pre-populated balances into the
planning system, Create variance reports
● Regulatory reporting: Capture and cleanse data, generate the
regulatory reports automatically. Create complex annual reports to the
extent possible.

Human Resources
More than 50% of standard HR processes can be automated as per Deloitte. When
the survey was done with Shared service leaders, about 74% of them were
planning to investigate RPA.

● Employee Onboarding: HR teams can assimilate new employees


into the organization faster and better with RPA. You can automate
most of the onboarding tasks including receiving information and
paperwork from new hires, setting up access to systems and notifying
concerned.
● Employee Offboarding: Just as Onboarding, all the tasks to offboard
an employee such as removing access to systems, notifying people
concerned and creating standard paperwork can be automated.
● Employee data management: RPA can be used to perform many of
the Employee data administration tasks. This includes adding and
updating data on current and past employees, contractors, interns, etc.
● Recruitment Management: RPA can be used for most repetitive
recruitment tasks such as scouring websites for candidates and
screening the resumes received. RPA systems can work 24 x 7 to
source, screen and organize right candidates for you.
● Compensation Management: RPA can be used to input
compensation data for employees into the Talent Management System.
● Time record validation: Following up on missing timesheets, validate
time booked and notify any discrepancies.
● Earnings and Deductions: Initiate batch creation and imports into the
payroll system, complete the standard validations.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


● Payroll payments: With RPA, the bot automatically extracts data
from an input source such as an MS Excel file or an email and enter
the Payroll payment data into the banking application.
● Automating process hand-offs: Typical approaches to handing work
between functions and people can be inefficient, time-consuming and
error prone. RPA can link both automated and manual HR tasks into an
end-to-end workflow.

Customer Service
RPA can be used to automate many of the common tasks at your support desk.
The tasks can be initiated by a rep through the click of a mouse. They can also
invoke unattended automation through a web portal, via email or SMS.

● Customer Management: Agents can quickly add or update customer


records with RPA. They can also update the details on other systems
with a mouse click.
● Update CRM: RPA can automate the process of sending the Sales &
Order information from ERP to CRM and notify the salesperson
● Access Management: RPA can be used to validate identity, unlock
accounts, reset password credentials and pass it back to users.
● User Administration: RPA can create new accounts across multiple
systems and applications.
● Incident/Change Management: RPA can raise incidents/change
requests by creating and/or updating tickets. These tickets can be
created from email or can also be auto created with inputs from
monitoring systems.
● Progress Chasing: RPA can follow up on incidents with users and
report the progress on tickets to concerned.
● Update or Close Tickets: RPA can close tickets after follow-up if the
users indicate the incident has been resolved or if there is no response
after repeated follow-up.
● External and internal interfaces: RPA can be used to drive actions in
external systems (supplier, partner or customer) or even internal
systems with a non-disruptive integration.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Information Technology
Infrastructure support in IT is one of the areas that can be automated extensively
with RPA and other technologies. IT can also use both unattended and attended
automation to automate manual tasks.

● Database Administration: Repetitive tasks such as database


validation, extending tablespaces, clearing database locks, etc.
● System Administration: Sysadmin activities including scheduled
tasks and intervention using management tools
● Backup Management: Monitor backup jobs, run diagnostics, restart
jobs or alert support team
● Patch Management: Check the patch levels, Schedule, execute and
validate patching using tools and scripts.
● Daily Checks. Automate all manual system and application checks.
E.g. SAP ERP daily checks.
● Provisioning: Perform server, storage, and network provisioning
actions.
● Network Support: Monitor and manage LAN, WAN devices, load
balancers, firewalls, and other network technologies
● Test Automation. RPA can be used to automate manual testing
efforts, user acceptance testing as well as load testing.

These are some use case examples that work well with RPA.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Process identification
The best approach to identify the processes for automation is to use a funnel
concept as shown in the image below:

The objective is to first capture most of the processes in the organization across
business lines. We then filter them out till we have processes with maximum
automation potential and return maximum benefits.

I suggest taking a 3-step approach to identify the processes. Once the processes
are identified, we can prioritize and build them out.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


The suggested three steps to identify the best opportunities for automation include
functional analysis followed by process analysis and then finally filtering them for
the benefits. Let us Look at each step in detail.

Function Analysis

The first step is to uncover all possible automation opportunities within the
organization at a very high level. We can go about identifying opportunities
across the organization in multiple ways – Lines of business, geography or
business function. The approach we have taken in the past is to go at it based on
the business functions. So, let us take that as an example approach here.

For each area (Business function here), it is advisable to identify a champion to


help us coordinate with the group and their sub-groups. I have seen it it’s best to
start by improving the digital or bot fluency of the different groups. This can be
achieved by setting up sessions with the group through the champion.

The sessions are then followed by questionnaires to the group to identify the
processes and provide data on the same. Once the information is received from
each of the groups, you can do a first level analysis for automation. At this stage,
we are largely looking for processes that are largely manual and have high
volumes. Based on this high-level analysis and based on past experience on RPA,
flag the automation opportunities within each of the business function.

You can then come up with a heat map like the one below:
Max potential
● Finance
● HR
● IT
● Operations
Medium potential
● Procurement
● Payroll
● Marketing

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


● Customer service
Low Potential
● Sales
● Legal

As part of functional analysis, we took a first level look at the automation


opportunities throughout the organization. We now have a prioritized list of
Business functions that we like to start with.

Process Analysis

Now in the next step, we will dive another level deeper into the processes for the
business functions that we prioritized. For e.g. if we prioritized Finance as an area
to automate, we will analyze the Finance and Accounting processes further.

This next level of assessment is usually conducted through workshops with the
sub-groups of the identified business functions. During these workshops, the
identified processes are analyzed for the following:

Automation Potential

Along with the group champion, assess which of the individual processes for the
function are ripe for automation. These processes are usually assessed for:

● Manual tasks where considerable time is spent on repetitive tasks


● Process maturity – Processes that are clear and is usually well
documented
● Manual hand-offs: Processes where information is entered repeatedly
in the same or disparate systems
● Processes that involve searching, collating or updating information
● Processes that require the matching or comparing of data

This should give you a list of processes that are suitable for automation.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Ease of Implementation

Next, look for the ease of implementing the automation based on the technologies
that we are looking to use to automate. All the tools have areas that they are
strong at and areas they are not so good at. For e.g. If the process has handwritten
documents, this would be hard to implement automation using RPA.

For understanding the ease of implementation, look for:


● Number of Exceptions. Processes with lesser exception paths
obviously are easier
● Level of Digitization. More the digitization, easier it is to implement
● Security needs. More the levels of security, the harder it could be
● Compliance. Too many compliance requirements can make it harder to
automate
● Process stability. It is better to automate when the process is more
stable
● Change readiness. If the team is amenable to change, it is easier

At the end of the above two steps of process analysis, we have a list of
automatable processes for the business functions we like to target. These are
generally the processes that we now look forward to automating and moving to
production.

Before that though, we should ideally be ensuring that the processes meet our
benefit objectives.

Benefit Analysis
In the final stage of Process identification, we want to filter the processes based
on the likelihood of meeting your strategic objectives.
Some of the common criteria to be considered for this include:
● Productivity
● Cost
● Revenue Generation
● Customer Satisfaction
● Compliance

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


● Risk Mitigation
After this final identification step, generally, about 20 to 30% of the potential
processes come through the filters and would be ideal automation opportunities.
You can then prioritize the processes and select the ones most suited for a pilot
program and subsequent sprints.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Implementing RPA in your Organization
We have so far looked at the basic aspects of RPA, how to select the right
processes (use cases) and tools to automate. Now let us see how we can put these
together to build our first bot as a Pilot (POC/POV).

As you have probably heard and seen by now, RPA is not a complicated
technology or skill. RPA is comparatively easy to get started with. That is true
whether you are evaluating RPA for yourself or your organization.

This section addresses how to conduct a proof of concept (POC) or Proof of value
(POV) in your organization. If you are driving this initiative, you may want to
start with some groundwork.

Is RPA right for your Organization?

RPA is a technology that emulates the tasks humans perform using computers. It
automates manual, rules-based, and repetitive activities. So, if your organization
has a lot of manual work in certain areas, there may be opportunities to automate
with RPA.

RPA is quick to implement at relatively low costs. It is also applied in a way there
is minimal disruption to existing technology. So, you can dive right in a find out if
RPA helps. Many organizations start small and understand if RPA brings value to
the organization before scaling.

Start with a workshop

Many vendors are eager to get a Pilot started. A better approach is to understand
RPA and analyze usefulness to your organization before you Pilot. Dive right in
but do some prep work so that you know what you are getting into. Position
yourself to scale the automation program if this is indeed the technology that does
wonders for you.

The best way to understand RPA better would be to have an RPA workshop with
people who have implemented RPA before. This may be people from your
industry who have done this before, RPA consultants or service providers. It
would be better to remain tool and vendor neutral as you start out. Some providers
and some consultants offer these initial consultations free of cost.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Have a well-planned workshop. I would suggest having a Design thinking
approach to the workshop. Come to the session with the processes you like to
automate especially the manually intensive process. Usually, the person running
the workshop would share a questionnaire so that you can be prepared for the
session.

In the workshop, understand RPA better through demos from the past. Once
people see how RPA works, they have multiple ideas. List all the ideas that come
up – do not hold back.

By the end of the workshop, you should have some sense of what RPA is and a
list of possible processes to be automated.

Determine Potential and Readiness

Now that you have some ideas to automate, analyze if your organization is ready
for the journey. This can be done offline after the workshop. Some of the things to
analyze for:

● Organization readiness– How ready is the organization to change?


Are the stakeholders aligned? Are there any major projects coming up
that could change the environment and/or the applications?
● Automation potential– You like to have enough manual processes
that can be automated with the available technology.
● Benefits & Savings: Look at the overall benefits (cost, speed,
compliance, etc.) and the ROI considering the costs and savings.

The analysis should help you decide if RPA right for you now. If you see good
potential and readiness in your organization, it’s time to take the next step.

Prepare for Pilot

As a next step, we would like to do quick automation with RPA- a pilot. The idea
of a pilot is to prove to the organization that real savings is possible.

Even for the pilot, I suggest you follow the process selection and build processes
so that you can scale and realize the complete potential of automation later. Many
organizations do not go past the pilot use case as they did not analyze or lay the
right foundations before they started out.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


The first step is to further whittle down the list of processes and identify the use
case(s) you like to focus on for the POC.

Use case selection for Pilot

For the Pilot, you would like to identify one or a couple of processes that are not
complicated and provides proof that the technology, and approach you are taking
is providing real value to the organization. You can choose one of the Processes
that we selected using the Funnel approach for Process selection.

Some of the pointers to select the right Pilot use case include:

● A low number of exception paths


● Not much audit involvement
● Not very critical for the organization
● Provides good cost savings and benefits
● Visible in the organization so that people take note of the results

Tool selection

Once the Use case is selected, select a tool for the selected Pilot process. Walk
through the processes that you have so far and ensure the tool addresses most of
the use cases identified by your team so far. That should help choose a tool that is
also good for the long run.

Choose tools that have a low barrier of entry. There are tools that want you to get
locked down in their ecosystem by charging high upfront fees. Even if people are
ready to do the pilot for free, look for the longer-term costs and benefits.

Also, look for the level of expertise that would be required. Are you going to use
businesspeople to configure or tech or combination? Choose tools that your
people can configure.

Governance

RPA is digital labor – a new form of talent for the organization. Treat it as such
with the new capability/talent being under the management of the business. All
the stakeholders support the business in bringing this capability on board.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Having said that, it is important to identify the key stakeholders and involve them
early. Even though it’s a pilot, it would need all key players like Business, IT,
Procurement to be aligned. Everyone’s role in the pilot and beyond if the
organization chooses to proceed further should be clear.

Success Criteria

As with any project, it is prudent to have well-defined success criteria for the
Pilot. You may want to have an agreement with the business and IT stakeholders
on the metrics and how it would be measured. Measure the baseline performance
metrics and have a targeted metric after the automaton.

After this groundwork phase, you should have a list of processes to Pilot, a
suggested tool for the shortlisted use cases and the initial foundation to scale.

Pilot Implementation

Once we have done the groundwork, it is time to implement the pilot. It is always
best to follow Agile development for RPA. With the agile model, you can
measure impact for each incremental development or even enhancement in future.

Even as you do the pilot, lay the foundations for the future by following a
systematic methodology. The steps usually followed include:

● Process discovery: This is an opportunity for the implementation team to


study the process in depth and ensure they are in alignment with the
Business team.
● Design: Insist that the team design and incorporate best practices. These
can be the initial standards that you want all the automation in your
organization to follow.
● Develop & test: This is standard workflow creation and configuration
followed by testing as per the Agile methodology. Some complex
developments may need coding as well.
● User testing: The developed automation is tested with the user and the
feedback incorporated. It is useful to give users early look in as the team
iterates to reduce rework.

All these steps can usually be completed within 2 to 4 weeks of time depending
on the complexity of the use case. As any project be ready for surprises and
delays.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Next Steps

Once the Pilot is complete, it is time to take stock and evaluate.

Did the Pilot hit the savings goals and benefits that was anticipated? What was the
real savings and benefits for the organization?

How did the Pilot go in terms of implementation? What were the learnings and
what changes do you need to make for the next implementation?

How did the organization receive new capability and changes? How can you tailor
the Change management program if you are looking to scale?

Make a report on the achievements and learnings from the Pilot. Get with the
teams and understand your next steps.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


RPA Best practices

Thanks to the early adopters and the trials and tribulations they have gone
through, we now have enough data to summarize what you should consider before
adopting RPA. If you are just getting started, you can take advantage of the
learning so far.
Implementing RPA brings significant benefits. RPA continues to meet and exceed
expectations across various key areas. This includes improvement in Quality,
Speed, Compliance, Productivity, and cost.
While there is a lot of success around RPA, only 4% of the Organizations scale up
as per this recent Deloitte study! It only increased by 1% in the past 12 months.
As per one Mc Kinsey study, “it is clear that the first act in the ‘robotics

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


evolution’ has not been a slam dunk for many, especially when companies try to
scale”.
How do we scale our future implementations? What are our learnings so far? It
turns out most of the failings can be traced back to a few things we could have
considered as we started on the journey.
Here are my 6 top considerations.
1. Strategic priority
It is important to have sponsorship and executive buy-in on the RPA journey and
Roadmap. All the stakeholders should jointly own the results. This is easier if
this is a strategic direction and everyone is rowing in the same direction.
This is easier said than done though with the competing objectives of different
stakeholders. It is a balancing act at the end of the day but is a very tough act if
automation is not a priority for the organization.
I like to say that there should be a “Pull” from each of the business groups
involved rather than being a “Push”. It’s much easier that way.
2. Business Lead
Intelligent Automation (IA) or RPA is a Business tool and not an IT solution.
So, RPA projects should not be considered as another technology implementation.
IT has to be involved from the beginning but in a slightly different way. IT has to
ensure proper technical governance (e.g. Hosting, Security etc.) and let Business
lead the automation of processes.
This is a major mindset shift and probably the most important one for successful
RPA implementations. Most of the initiatives on RPA either do not take off or
ends up in failure when RPA is considered an IT tool and goes through the usual
Tool evaluation and implementation process. It is not easy but worth the time to
have discussions and align everyone with the notion that business would lead the
process automation.
3. Manage change
There is a lot of hysteria around job losses due to AI and Automation. So, it
becomes especially important to plan and manage communications. I would
start by defining the roles of the stakeholders clearly. Have a communication plan
that involves supporting teams like IT, Audit/Compliance and Procurement as
early as possible.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


As with any initiative, there would be resistance from various levels and groups.
It is important to understand the concern and address at each level and early. We
have seen resistance from mid-level managers mostly as well as people working
on the tasks. It is important to educate and communicate to raise awareness of
automation and its benefits. This can help improve buy-in on automation.
4. Right Process
It is important to select the right processes, especially at the beginning and show a
quick return on investment. People have found it best to start with simple
processes that are visible but not very critical to the working of the group. It is
better to select processes with a few exceptions paths as possible to start with.
Studies also suggest that you keep away from processes that have a lot of Audit
involvement in the beginning lest we end up with questions you are not ready to
answer yet.
Selecting the wrong initial processes could slow down or seven stop the
Automation initiative. Choosing the wrong pilot process has been one of the
major reasons for failed Automation initiatives.
5. Systematic
A planned approach to implementation ensures that you have the right
foundations to scale the automation initiative. So, choose the right tool and
ecosystem for the specific use case(s). Take care of your security considerations
right from the beginning.
In terms of implementations, choose the methodology that works best for you.
Agile methodologies are usually better for quick wins. Finally, establish
Governance for managing Intelligent Automation throughout the life cycle.
A well thought out launch with detailed IT controls, Using the right tools and
Business Processes is a hallmark of successful implementations.
6. Track metrics
It is helpful to identify the relevant metrics and track them on a dashboard.
Agree with the business teams on the success criteria by identifying the post-
automation performance metric and how it would be measured. It is useful to
measure and track the cumulative Savings and ROI of automation. Successful
initiatives have the right level of reporting and leaders that understand the benefits
of the automation projects.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


You learn a lot by doing and starting out. It will take a few cycles before you
discover your unique challenges, but these considerations based on past data is a
good start.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Taking steps to create your first Bot
Finally, let us take a quick look at an RPA tool to understand some of its nuances.
We will use UiPath RPA Platform to walk you through this part of the Ebook.
The major components are similar for other RPA tools as well thought there are
some distinct differences.

UiPath as we saw earlier is a top RPA tool which is easy to use. The UiPath RPA
Platform has three main components.

● The UiPath Studio: A place where you configure the bots


● UiPath Orchestrator: A central place to manage the UiPath Bots
● UiPath Robot: An executable that runs the workflows you built using
Studio.

Since this is an introductory course, we will look at the Studio. The Orchestrator
is required when we are ready to deploy and manage multiple bots in a production
environment.

Before we do that, let us download the tool and install the Studio so that we can
walk through the features.

UiPath Community edition


UiPath community edition is a fully featured version of the UiPath tool. The
limitations compared to the full version is that:

● Limited support on forums. There is no phone or email support


● The Community Edition Orchestrator is different - the number of bots that
can be connected to Orchestrator is limited

The Community Edition is targeted for individuals and developers.

Let us quickly walk through the steps to install the UiPath Studio Community
Edition:

1. Let us start by going to the UiPath Community edition home page at


www.uipath.com/developers/community-edition
2. Go to the “Start Trial” or “Get Community Edition” options.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


3. Look for “Community cloud” and click on “Try it”
4. Sign-up/Register with UiPath by providing the info. Once you submit the
information, it would open up the UiPath portal as shown below:

5. In the left pane, choose “Resource Center” and then Download the
“Community Edition” as shown above.
6. An executable setup file (UiPathStudioSetup.exe) would download.
7. Go ahead and double click this installable to install the UiPath community
edition Studio.
8. When you get to the License screen, click on ‘Activate Community
Edition’. The licenses for UiPath Studio and Robot will be activated.
9. Congrats! A browser tab should open up indicating that UiPath has been
installed.
10. Go to Windows “Start” and look for “UiPath Studio”. Click on it to open
the Studio.

Let us go through the UiPath Studio now.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


UiPath Studio
The “Studio” is the place where you configure the bots using a Visio like
interface. You would be dragging and dropping pre-built components to build
your automations.

When UiPath is installed, the Studio shows up as a program that can be invoked
from your Windows “Start” menu. Once invoked, it shows an initial screen to
choose the type of Project you like to create, or you can open an existing project.

Here is the initial screen for UiPath Studio.

Once you choose the project, UiPath would show the Project view. You can see
the project components on the left. In the middle pane, you can choose “Open
Main Workflow” (see at the bottom) to proceed.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


Once you have the Project open, you would find that you can drag-drop and
create the Workflow in the middle pane.

You drag a drop “Activities” on the left of the panel to the middle panel where
you configure the Automation. Let us take a look at UiPath activities which
makes the Automation possible.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


UiPath Activities
UiPath Activities can be visualized as pieces of the Automation puzzle. You will
use multiple activities to create the entire Automation puzzle which is represented
by a workflow.

All activities are meant to help you carry out a certain part of the automation. For
example, To manipulate Microsoft Excel, there are activities to Read Rows, Read
Columns, Copy sheets, Close workbook etc.

Activities are grouped logically and made available as packages. For example, all
the activities relating to Excel above are grouped under a package called
“UiPath.Excel.Activities”.

The UiPath Studio by default has the following activities packages for all newly
created projects:

● UiPath.Excel.Activities
● UiPath.Mail.Activities
● UiPath.System.Activities
● UiPath.UIAutomation.Activities

You can add additional packages using the “Manage Packages” button in UiPath
Studio. You can also search and add packages from UiPath Go! Which is a
marketplace of reusable automation components. https://go.uipath.com/

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


UiPath Variables
Like in any computer program, variables in UiPath can be used to store multiple
types of data which can change so that you can, for example, to store how many
times a loop has been executed.

UiPath Properties

On the right side of the Studio above is the Properties pane. This is where you can
configure the properties for each of the activities. Those are the details for the
Automation to execute these activities.

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)


UiPath Recorder
The Recorder helps you save time configuring some sequence of activities.
UiPath “records” user actions on the screen and creates sequences for you. You
can then build on top of that or customize to your needs.

There are multiple Recorder options in UiPath. Some of the commonly used
options include:

● Web – You can use this for recording web apps using Internet Explorer
and Google Chrome
● Desktop – This is used for recording user actions on all types of desktop
apps

Those were some of the key features of the UiPath tool. Hope it gives you some
sense of how we work with RPA tools.

That concludes the Ebook. Hope you found the contents useful. Do you have
thoughts on the book and RPA or AI in general? You can reach me through the
contact options on my website – Nandan.info.

Hope to connect with you there!

© 2019 Nandan Mullakara (nandan.info)