RPA or Robotic Process Automation is the process of using software bots/robots to automate repetitive business processes. There are many tasks in the organization that are time-consuming and still being done by humans.
RPA reduces human dependency and increases efficiency by taking the help of the robots that will perform the required tasks instead of humans. Moreover, RPA tools are easy to use as users do not require any programming language and they can be used on any platform.
Popular industries that use RPA are healthcare, insurance, banking, e-commerce, manufacturing, BPO, and so on.
RPA Life Cycle Phases
Now, let’s discuss the development life cycle of RPA; it can be divided into the following phases.
- Planning and Analysis – In this phase, first the need for an RPA solution is identified i.e. an existing business process is identified that needs help from RPA.Once the business process is selected, a detailed analysis of the existing (as-is) process is conducted.
In the analysis part, first analysts need to look for all the tasks that require manual handling (human intervention) in the existing process and list out the tasks that should be automated.Once the tasks are listed, find out if it is feasible or possible to automate these tasks using robots; whether they can be fully automated, partially automated (robots help in the task, but human intervention is required), or cannot be automated.
Usually, during this process, analysts take the help of the subject matter experts.In this phase, it is also important to identify all the pros and cons of the new (to-be) business process as the business users or the client should be aware of the shortcomings of the business process post RPA implementation, if any.
The detailed requirements of the proposed solution are documented. The document includes details of each action taken by the user (flows), business rules, exceptions, and so on. These requirements are then communicated with the RPA development team after approval from the business users.
Also, in this phase, a detailed plan of the project is defined i.e. the human resources required for the project, budget, and timeline of the project are decided.
Typically, business users, business analysts (in some companies, they are known as RPA analysts), subject matter experts, and RPA architects are involved in this phase.
- Development – Once the requirements are ready and available with the RPA development team, the design, and the development process starts.
RPA development process uses readily available tools in the market and as these tools are wizard-driven, coding is not required.
But if any part of the process needs automation that is not covered by the existing tools, coding may be required.
- Testing – In this phase, testing of the developed bots is carried out by the RPA development team or a separate testing team, or both. This testing happens in the production-like environment and if any bugs are found during the testing, the RPA development team solves them and again the bots are tested.
After internal testing, the working process is shown to the business users to make sure that it is developed as per the requirements.Once the testing results in the satisfactory running of the business process using automated bots, the RPA development team gets ready for deployment on production.
- Deployment and Maintenance – In this final phase, the RPA development team deploys the code in a production environment where end-users can now use the RPA bots.
In this process, usually, the development team takes the help of the operations team as they provide any help needed to the end-users.
If any issues are found in the production environment, they are communicated with the concerned parties and the necessary phases (analysis, development, and testing) are repeated.
For a successful implementation of RPA project, each phase of the life cycle should be very well planned and efficiently executed.
Also, participation from each member of the team, that also includes the business users, is crucial with proper communication and collaboration between the members.