At the most basic level, robotic process automation (RPA) is designed to mimic the steps that a human takes. It interacts with websites and applications at the interface level—clicking buttons, entering login credentials, or opening and closing windows. To be considered RPA, a software solution doesn’t need to offer any more than a simple way to automate a few of your desktop tasks.
But some robotic process automation software on the market today are powering complex workflows across large and growing enterprises. What sets these enterprise robotic process automation platforms apart from the other software out there?
There’s nothing wrong with starting small. Most businesses—even large ones—get started automating with relatively simple use cases. However, scalability and adaptability are key to successful enterprise robotic process automation.
Some robotic process automation softwares are designed for desktop automation. These tools can be extremely useful for improving individual productivity. But a forward-thinking company will implement enterprise robotic process automation that can move easily and cost-effectively from automating an individual user’s tasks to streamlining any high-volume processes in the organization.
This is done by employing an increasing number of software robots, or agents. Each robot is limited only by its machine’s capacity—it can execute as many processes as CPU and memory allow. This makes increasing the size of the digital workforce much less expensive than hiring additional full-time employees for each job. Furthermore, when requirements change, a robot can be reconfigured within minutes. Retraining human employees takes more time.
In some industries, it may also be important to scale down at certain times of the year. With a digital workforce, no one needs to lose a job—the robots will be ready to go when business picks up again.
In an enterprise running large-scale robotic process automation software, a long list of users will probably need access to the RPA software. The more this list grows, the more important it is to have robust user access management features. Each individual, team, or department should have only the permissions they absolutely need. For example, one user might need permission to edit a workflow, while another should only view it. A robotic process automation solution that doesn’t provide role-based security isn’t suitable for an enterprise-level automation strategy.
Enterprise robotic process automation software also provides detailed logging of each user’s actions and each task executed. This is useful for internal security and also for maintaining compliance with industry regulations like HIPAA, SOX, or PCI DSS.
For enterprise robotic process automation, it’s important to be able to monitor and manage automated processes from a central console. Ideally, this console is accessible from any device and can provide necessary metrics on servers, robots, workflows, and more. Detailed operational analytics not only allow the user to keep track of operations and identify problems, they help with optimizing future workloads.
Your software robots should be able to take on any repeated process, no matter how complex or customized. That means they’ll need to have a few advanced features.
First, your robotic process automation software solution should be capable of integrating with your existing systems and applications. This is a great strength of all RPA software, since it can manipulate any program at the interface level. However, some solutions also have deeper pre-built integrations.
Your robots should be smart. Just because a process is repeated, doesn’t mean it follows the exact same steps every time. For example, your robotic process automation software should be able to decide which path in the workflow to follow based on whether a certain file has arrived.
Finally, flexibility comes from ease-of-use. If your RPA platform is as intuitive for an accountant as it is for a programmer, your options for how to use the software in your enterprise increase. While IT will probably lead the initial RPA implementation, business users should have the flexibility to build and adjust workflows themselves. This increases efficiency while decreasing the pressure on IT.