Robotic automation refers to a style of automation where a machine, or computer, mimics a human’s action in completing rules based tasks
In the domain of back office administration, Robotic Automation refers to automation where a computer drives existing enterprise application software in the same way that a user does. This means that unlike traditional application software, Robotic Automation is a tool or platform that operates and orchestrates other application software through the existing application’s user interface and in this sense is not “integrated”.
• No integration costs – robots drive existing applications.
• IT robots are “trained” by their users by being “shown” how to complete a task. This is akin to training a new employee.
• A robot once trained can scale across any number of other robots.
• The robot knowledge is extended and re-used over time.
• A robot is trained in the live environment making projects less expensive and much faster than traditional IT.
• Multiple robots applied to a task can be synchronised to deliver large-scale robotic platforms.
• Robots are universal application orchestrators – any application that can be used by a person can be used by a modern robot, whether mainframe, legacy, bespoke application, web service enabled or even a closed 3rd party API hosted service.
• Applications are “read” by the robot, either through dedicated APIs where they exist, through the OS prior to application display, or through the screen in the context of the native application. In this last case the modern robot “reads” an application screen in context and in the same way a user does. As part of the robot training it is shown how to read the application’s display much like a user is shown.
• Robots collect procedural knowledge which over time build into a shared library that can re-used by any other robot or device (in the same way objects are built in traditional SW engineering).
• Management information is gathered automatically as the robot operates. All processes generate statistical profiles as a by-product of doing the action. This allows tuning and development of a process in light of real data.
• Modern robots systems come with failover and recovery inbuilt as core capabilities. It means that if changes take place, or downstream failures occur a “smart” response can be trained into the overall system.
• Modern robots systems have full audit and security authorisation meaning that all changes and all access is recorded and regulated. Back-up process steps are managed, roll-back and recovery, as well process change-highlighting, are all automatically captured by the robot platform.
• Robotic Automation is principally aimed at clerical staff replacement as opposed to clerical staff acceleration as with BMPS. The philosophy of the approach is therefore to target routine, repetitive, rules-based tasks (procedures as sub-tasks within a larger business processes). Such tasks can often tie clerical staff down for long stretches of time. Very often such tasks are small, possibly involving 5-10 people, and so do not justify large IT, or even BPMS, projects to automate. The difference for robot automation is that no IT is required, and business users can “show” the robot what to do. The capability is therefore distributed to operations staff so as to divide-and-conquer many mid-to-small automation initiatives that would otherwise require people.
This difference in scale is illustrated with the so called Long Tail of Automation Requirements. This says that core IT deals with the high volume bulk processing requirements an organisation may have. Typically, these are core ERP systems, mainframe accounting and core data bases. As we move towards the middle of the graph requirements become more specialist and diverse. This is where an organisation often differentiates its product and service offerings. Typical technologies here are workflow, desktop integration, BPMS, agent acceleration. These are large IT control programs that service to offer a platform for automation and work management.
Finally we have the third section of Long Tail – these tasks are characterized by their diversity. Often they are too diverse to make an IT change program, and may be too small to justify IT project costs. Here traditional approaches have been to outsource, or offshore in order to adjust labour rates to make the task more competitive. Robotic automation offers an alternative to off shoring or outsourcing – presenting a new cost-band of labour based on robots.
• Robotic Automation is normally housed, monitored, licensed and controlled by IT, or at the very least a centralized governance body. This group enforce a central usage policy configured within all robots.
• Robotic processes are accretive – objects are built and are then available for re-use across the business. This allows disparate groups to all share and build common resources supporting much greater resource re-use than many SW environments.
• No new data – best practice robot discourages or even forbids the creation of new data. Systems are used by robots as they appear to users so as to coordinate and streamline enterprise governance.
A “fully loaded” office robot is approximately a 1/3rd the cost of globally sourced agents. The flexibility and ease of deployment means that this comparison is easy to maintain and judge the nest approach to a given tasks.
Robots for now only follow rules. Where a procedure requires interpretation and skill in judging an outcome then a robot may not be suitable. One technique that is common is to re-organize task-steps so that any judgment is dealt with up front – the work is prepared for robotic automation. In this way robots can handle bulk rules and hand off to humans once judgment is needed.
• Robotic FTE’s are 1/3 of the price of off-shored FTE’s and can work 24/7
• Speed to automation – days and weeks to automate clerical procedures
• “Self Build” – no need for specialist IT, robots are trained by end-users
• Robots are trained to do repetitive clerical tasks and drive existing applications so no costly integration and expensive process re-design expertise needed
• A small specialist team from the business operations works alongside robots to train them, manage exceptions and continually improve the robots operational performance
• MI is automatically captured across all procedures operated.
Office Robot Automation sits outside the enterprise architecture. This gives it portability and speed. Its self-contained nature means it can be applied anywhere. However, its independence is not a cause of isolation; robotic automation can be used as a fast-prototyping of automation requirements developed by end-users. Once operational then the robot procedures offer full requirements and templates for traditional IT change program. This has the crucial advantage that business requirements are explicit, MI is already captured and planning can be adjusted based on live experience.
Best projects for robot automation are bulk repetitive rules based procedures. The flexibility of the robotic automation platform is such that it does not matter if this involves interaction with multiple systems. You can see example processes that have built by our customers with our support in the Industries section of the website.
Typical projects are measured in weeks. One heuristic is that it takes as long to train a robot as it does a human. Complex new task will take longer depending of the level of object re-use available.
No, as robots are trained in the live environment the traditional enterprise IT development environment is not required. Instead a robot is trained in the live environment just as user would be. Before active-commit the robot is monitored through all its procedural steps with MI and monitoring tools to validate the procedure. The first stage of go-live can be set on “trickle” speed to ensure that procedures are acting according to requirements. Once output is cleared the process can be “accelerated” to mass automation speed.
This coupled with a wide range of dedicated tools that have been developed means that we are confident in being able to link any system with the click of a button. This proven application orchestration capability ensures that new processes can be rapidly designed, built and tested without any impact on existing systems.
Blue Prism has been designed for flexibility and to meet the most robust IT standards for IT operational integrity, security and supportability. The software can be deployed either as a front office or back office process, running quite happily on a standard desktop in the front office or on any scale of systems for back office processing.
Blue Prism gathers data and integrates processes at an abstracted level using a variety of techniques an interfaces that ensures underlying systems are not impacted.
Permissions to design, create, edit and run processes and business objects are specific to each authorised user.
A full audit trail of changes to any process is kept, and comparisons of the before and after effect of changes are provided.
The log created at run-time for each process provides a detailed, time-stamped history of every action and decision taken within an automated process.
Our clients tend to find that running a process with Blue Prism gives them a lot more control than a manual process, and from a compliance point of view assures that processes are run consistently, in line with the process definition.
Our audit viewer allows users to track the details of who, when, why and exactly how a process was changed.
In addition, detailed logs are held of every step taken during execution, providing a robust and detailed audit trail.
The Blue Prism process automation candidate selection methodology provides the mechanism to identify the candidate landscape across chosen sections of the enterprise. A sophisticated scoring profile is applied to criteria such as case volumes, average handling time, right first time targets, customer service levels and timeframe for delivery of an IT solution through the existing change list.
Blue Prism recommends a phased approach to getting started as the Operational Agility framework is eminently scalable. It is typical to target the configuration of between 1 and 10 processes initially with a rolling program of processes being introduced once the framework is established.
The average time to establish the initial Operational Agility framework is between 4 and 12 weeks from project initiation.
The initial 3 day training course provides the basic knowledge required to begin creating automated processes. Candidates can expect to achieve full accreditation within the timeframe of the project for the initial Operational Agility framework creation. During this time the trainees are delivering automated processes into the production environment therefore generating business benefit.
It really depends on the skills you already have in house and the way you wish to work. Blue Prism can provide a full range of services from basic training, support and mentoring with a view to quickly getting your team independently delivering ongoing automations, right through to a full turnkey package where we will take responsibility for delivering business benefit within agreed service levels.
A “fully loaded” office robot is approximately a 1/3rd the cost of globally sourced agents. The flexibility and ease of deployment means that this comparison is easy to maintain and judge the nest approach to a given tasks. I think we mean to say, “the best approach” rather than the “nest approach”!