What is RPA? How Does It Work, Tools, Applications & Best Practices


With the rapid evolution of robotic technology, innovations are always coming to the forefront to make our work easier. This article discusses “what is RPA or Robotic Process Automation” and focuses on its various facets that have helped users accomplish a vast array of high-volume, repetitive and business-oriented tasks rapidly with the help of robots. So, let us begin by understanding what is RPA?

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Content Overview 

  • What is RPA? – understanding the concept
  • Benefits of choosing RPA over traditional automation tools
  • How does the RPA process work?
  • RPA vendors and tools available
  • Four steps on how to get started with RPA
  • Applications of RPA
  • Best practices in RPA implementation

What is RPA

RPA is the technology that uses robots to mimic and integrate human actions while interacting with digital systems in order to execute business operations. In simple words, if you ask what is RPA, it is the process of automating business processes with the help of robots to minimize human interference.

RPA robots are capable of imitating most, if not all, human user actions like capturing data and manipulating applications. RPA robots are only better because they make no mistakes and function tirelessly.

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Why choose RPA over other automation tools? 

Now that you know what is RPA, it is obvious for you to wonder why you should choose RPA when there are other automation tools available. Well, in contrast to conventional IT solutions, the advantages of RPA are several:

  • RPA allows automation at reduced costs 
  • RPA’s non-intrusive nature does not disrupt crucial underlying systems
  • With RPA, you can expect faster benefits
  • The upfront investment is minimum
  • Full support from IT
  • Attunes to changing business environments

How does RPA work? 

Before further discussions on what is RPA, it is essential to point out that RPA does not use physical robots per se; software is available in the market that lets you configure automation software to automate business processes. RPA accomplishes the tasks by imitating human actions that include:

  • Logging into any application
  • Connecting to system APIs
  • Copying and pasting data
  • Moving files and folders
  • Extraction and processing of structured and semi-structured content of PDFs, documents, forms, and e-mails.
  • Reading and writing to databases
  • Making calculations
  • Opening emails and attachments

Read: RPA Architecture

RPA vendors and tools 

Software like RPA tools and vendors, let you configure your tasks in order to automate them. There are several RPA vendors available in today’s market, but some of the leading ones are UiPath, Blue Prism, and Automation Anywhere. Each of these vendors has its hits and misses and is used by the industry for various purposes.

Despite being similar in structure and function, UiPath is a clear trendsetter for several reasons:

  • Free edition available
  • Offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop visual designer
  • No need for programming knowledge

4 steps to getting started with RPA 

You can follow four simple steps to get started with your task:

Step 1: Do your research on traditional tools of automating and how they led to RPA.

Step 2: Make an incisive study into what is RPA and its various applications in industry.

Step 3: Select the process or operation that you want to automate and consider the dependencies of the process.

Step 4: Gain substantial hands-on training and experience in RPA tools such as UiPath, Blue Prism, and Automation Anywhere that will help you automate your tasks.

Applications of RPA 

RPA is frequently used in many industrial sectors to accomplish day-to-day tasks:

  • Healthcare – for patient registration and billing.
  • HR – for hiring shortlisted candidates and maintaining payroll
  • Insurance – for processing and clearing claims and information on premium
  • Manufacturing and Retail – for calculating sales and bills of material
  • Banking and Financial Services – for activating cards and claiming frauds
  • Telecom – for quality reporting and managing service orders
  • Infrastructure – for processing issues, setting up accounts, and communication
  • Travel and logistics – for booking tickets, accounting, and passenger details

Also read: RPA Developer Resume

What are the best practices in RPA implementation? 

  • Prior to opting for RPA, retrospect the business impact your choice may have.
  • Your focus should be on automating significant and impactful tasks.
  • Try to combine unattended and attended RPA
  • Poor change management and design can be disastrous
  • Consider the impact your choice will have on people
  • Proper governance is of utmost importance in the RPA process. Make sure to ensure corporate, policy, and government compliance.

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 Robotic Process Automation enables businesses and organizations to seamlessly automate tasks across systems and applications. The primary goal of RPA is to replace tedious, repetitive, and error-prone manual work with the efficiency and reliability of virtual automation technology. With 100% productivity and zero error, RPA has a wide range of applications across several sectors ranging from healthcare to banking. This article on “what is RPA” acquaints you with the technology and how it can efficiently execute tedious day-to-day tasks in a jiffy.

If you’re interested to learn more about machine learning, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s PG Diploma in Machine Learning & AI which is designed for working professionals and offers 450+ hours of rigorous training, 30+ case studies & assignments, IIIT-B Alumni status, 5+ practical hands-on capstone projects & job assistance with top firms.

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