RPA Technical Insights, Part 18: The 4 Configuration Features That Can Bolster Automation Development

David BrainBlog

This is part 18 of a 22 part blog series by the leading experts at Symphony Ventures. It addresses how to choose the right RPA tools for your business needs. Drawing from our global team’s extensive knowledge in automation consulting, implementation, and managed services across a range of diverse industries, we’ve drilled into the technical criteria to consider when selecting which RPA software best enables your company’s digital operation strategy.

Read Part 17, How to Keep an Eye on Your Automation

A smooth RPA deployment can save business resources, cut costs and reduce downtimes. However, automation processes require meticulous planning and development, especially if they are to be used in a complex business environment. So how do teams deliver optimal solutions on time, amidst many complex obstacles? The features contained within an RPA tool are one of the key factors. When building an automation, developers bank on cutting time off or entirely removing repetitive or tedious actions to free up staff to spend more time on the important, creative tasks. This blog will detail the time-saving configuration features that make this possible.

User Interface Targeting

One of these features is a user-interface element-identification tool. The name is self-explanatory, as these are used within RPA to identify user interface (UI) elements. These element identifiers vary in effectiveness based on their ability to track code elements. A versatile UI element identification tool helps developers interface accurately with most applications with minimal extra configuration work.

Process Recording

Built-in process recording goes hand in hand with UI element identification tools. A recorder works by following the steps that a user performs when recording. The steps are then translated into a script or workflow that performs the same actions. Thus, a process recorder practically automates the automation! The better the identification technology, the more accurate and quick a recording tool will be. Although recorders are intuitive to use, they can lack the configurability of a layered design if not supplemented with proper development principles.

While process recording can allow a developer to quickly create a process configuration, work must be put in to ensure the final product is robust, accurate and efficient.  An example of this is that most recording tools will also record any human delays that were used during capture, this can cause the process to not be robust, with it always expecting an element or screen to be available after X number of seconds.  So, make sure to understand where and when the recording tool is best applied.

General Debugging Features

Development of more complex automations will include bugs. Thus, identifying and either working around or fixing the bugs is usually an involved effort of RPA teams. That is why many teams place importance on built-in debugging tools. They allow a user to step through the automation at their own pace, watching the processes closely to find problems. Seeing what values are entered, how they change, and how they interact with the environment can tell a developer a lot about the inner workings of the automation. Of course, the amount of information depends on how advanced the debugging interface of the RPA tool is. Different RPA tools provide this functionally to varying degrees of success. Debugging provided by RPA tools, while helpful, is no replacement for good process capture and design.

Collaboration Features

Like debugging, collaboration in a team development environment is a highly important RPA platform feature. For instance, in a corporate environment, the work of multiple configuration consultants may overlap on the same components. In this case, controlling the code versions, locking the scripts to prevent anomalies, and being able to roll back to previous versions are all critical functionalities. If these configurations are implemented in development, the entire team’s labor can be utilized without fear of risking the loss or overriding of work.

Collaboration features also empower your organizations change control processes that need to be considered during an RPA project, saving your project teams from also having to document versions and releases of processes.

Summary

Each of the features above can lead to significant increases in the efficiency and quality of the development process. Element identification and recording speed up the building process, while debugging tools help pinpoint issues in the automation. Additionally, collaboration tools can minimize the chance for versioning conflicts through collaboration features. If your business values the efficiency that RPA can deliver to existing processes, then you will probably appreciate the same sort of principles applied to RPA development.

Be sure not to miss part 19 of RPA Technical Insights, where we introduce RPA deployment features with a look at resource allocation capabilities.

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