What's Your RPA Approach? [Webinar Recap]

RPA Approach

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As your business starts to automate processes you’ve probably encountered the terms “front-of-glass” and “back-of-glass,” which refer to different approaches to automation.

We recently held a webinar to explore these topics, which is now available on-demand: What’s Your RPA Approach? Front-of-glass vs. Back-of-glass automation.

What do they mean?

Basically, front-of-glass takes care of things like website data scraping, running Microsoft Access reports, anything where you see a cursor moving on the screen. Back-of-glass can run SQL queries and send results to a spreadsheet, send files via FTP, monitor inboxes and process attachments, anything that takes places behind the screen.

Front office, back office, front of screen, back of screen, all of these are terms referring to where the automation runs. Can you see it happening on your screen? Or does it happen in the background?

There are three approaches you can take to automation: front of glass, back of glass, or a combination of the two.

Benefits and challenges of both approaches

Front of glass automation is helpful because no changes are needed to existing programs or applications. Anyone who knows the keystrokes can build the task, quickly, and with no programming knowledge needed.

There are a few challenges with this approach. Screens aren’t always stable, and sometimes screens or user interfaces change. Also, the screen resolution will affect how well these tasks perform. This kind of automation is only as good as the process it mimics.

Back of glass automation has the benefits of stable execution, typically better performance than front of screen automation. Tasks can be executed more quickly because of direct access to data, and the automation isn’t affected by changes to the user interface.

The challenge with this automation is that the person building out the task must know where and how the data used is stored. They may need to be familiar with web services and also have some programming skills.

Strategies for when to use each approach to automation

Front-of-glass automation is well suited to:

And many other fully or partially attended processes. Front-of-glass automation gives quick wins and can show immediate value to the business.

Back of glass automation is best for:

  • File movement
  • Excel processing
  • Database processing
  • PowerShell scripts
  • API driven applications

Essentially, any unattended background process is a good candidate for this kind of automation. Back-of-glass automation helps businesses achieve higher ROI as automating processes this way can involve process improvement at the same time.

How Automate can work its magic front-of-glass or back-of-glass

Automate contains over 70 actions and 600 activities that can be used to create reusable automation tasks and workflows. These include actions integrated with:

  • Databases
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Email clients
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Active Directory
  • Amazon and Microsoft Azure Cloud
  • VMware
  • REST API
  • Java applications
  • Telnet terminal

Along with many more web browser applications and desktop applications.

How to Choose Tasks to Automate

Here are a few questions to ask as you identify tasks to automate in your enterprise.

  1. What is the current process? Document all the steps a human is doing now.
  2. Is the process consistent?
  3. Is the process repeatable, and does it follow a predictable pattern every time?

If so, then chances are the process can be fully automated.

Looking for more specific RPA use cases?

Check out our guide, 15 Ways Automate Solves IT and Business Problems - The 2019 Automate Use Case Guide.