RPA: To Bot or Not to Bot! (Part 2/4)
While we firmly believe that the key to the RPA success lies in the process and not in the robot, let us spend a little time to understand what is a robot or a ‘Bot’ as we lovingly like to call it and what it is capable of doing. This should lead us to conclude if the above hypothesis is indeed correct.
If you recall in our earlier discussion, we talked about computers being just another automation tool to help make our processes more efficient. They have been able to automate a lot of the data crunching and record-keeping type of tasks associated with a given process. We may refer to these as the back end. Conversely, the front end is the interface that we humans use to interact with the machine and tell it what/how to do. Our process thus consists of these two components – the automated back end run by the computer and the front end where the human inputs take place. The promise of RPA lies in being able to automate the front end as well and remove the need for human interaction altogether.
Therefore, it follows from the above discussion that a Bot is a piece of software that can automate the interaction that a human has with the interface of an existing computer program. In other words, it can mimic the actions of a human while interacting with a computer interface. Or can it?
I wish the answer to that was a clear yes or no. Well, it isn’t. Our interactions with these interfaces can vary from a simple data entry to a complicated set of inputs that in turn depend on a series of decisions involving ‘human judgments’. Judgments that cannot be codified into simple logical steps that a simplistic computer program like an RPA tool can deduce and execute accurately, reliably and repeatedly. Hello Watson!
So it follows further that trying to apply a Bot to a process where the front end interaction is complex, fragmented and judgment based will only result in disappointment. It is important that we understand the capabilities and limitations of a Bot (the RPA tool) and its applicability to a particular process before we decide to undertake its implementation. Back to our original hypothesis about focusing on the process – a good understanding of the robot will, in turn, let us choose the right process for it.
Did I hear someone say that “I love my robot so much that I will change my process”?