Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technological trend that we have discussed with our colleague and RPA developer Andrej.
(Andrej loves folklore, so you can easily identify him on a photo.)
How was your first meeting with RPA?
"It was two years ago, after the completion of a previous project, where I worked as a Java developer. At that time, FPT was launching a new RPA automation project for Innogy. Since it was a new thing, I was interested.”
Describe your team and the volume of the automated processes.
"The project has been running since 2017, I joined in the middle of 2018. The integration of the team is currently underway within the new infrastructure of our customer. This is also related to the division of the team into operational and development parts. We have a total of 7 automators in the team, four of them in Košice and also two analysts who prepare processes for automation. The automated processes are diverse, depending on the customer, as they are processes within the entire group. We currently have 13 customers.”
How is the complexity or difficulty of processes that you are automating?
"The complexity of the process depends on the number of technologies used. An example is the process which we start by obtaining input data from the e-mail, which we then use in SAP. We process them there, export them to Excel and process them again in a web application. Finally, we send an email about the successful completion of the requested operation. In practice, this means a large number of steps and, in particular, exceptions that need to be considered. On the other hand, in processes that use less technology, the emphasis is often placed on the processing speed. This involves, for example, processing of large amounts of input data."
What do you consider most challenging in the process development?
"In addition to automating new processes, I also do support for the older ones. This means that the more processes the automator has processed, the more work he has if one of them does not work or needs to be modified. That is why it is sometimes difficult to focus on developing a new process and at the same time make it all on schedule.”
What do you like most about working with RPA?
"I like to see that the automated process works properly and helps the customer in practice. I also like the variety of processes in which I can use knowledge from previous projects.”
What assumptions or knowledge should an RPA developers have?
"Definitely the ability to learn and adapt quickly, always coming up with new solutions. The more technologies a person comes into contact with, the easier it will be to be able to process new processes. It is also good to be able to think like a programmer, ie. know something about recursion or objects - this can be applied to process design.”
What is your view of the RPA perspective? Will it be as widespread in a few years as expected?
"RPA is undoubtedly a very trendy and desirable issue. It saves time and resources when performing repetitive tasks, such as generating monthly invoices for a large number of customers. BluePrism, the RPA tool used in our project, is being improved with each version, so that automation itself is advancing and becoming simpler and more complex. I believe that RPA will be on the rise in the next five years."
You mentioned BluePrism, how do you like working with it?
"In general, BluePrism is considered one of the most comprehensive RPA tools on the market. It is robust and works well with key tools such as SAP or MS Office. Solutions to various tasks are relatively easy to find on the web, but the ability to try this tool is limited. The BluePrism environment itself is logical and clear. The possibility to finish programming your own objects is also excellent. In terms of cost, it is one of the more expensive tools suitable for large companies.”