RPA Tutorial

There are a lot of routine and time-consuming activities in a company enterprise that are done on a regular basis. It wasn't that long before it was realised that it would be better for these organisations if the time spent on these activities could be used to do something more efficient. In order to get all these things completed with more precision and accuracy than ever before, the idea of RPA came into the picture at record speed. In this RPA tutorial that is Robotic Process Automation, you would be able to find a great picture of RPA automation, various RPA software, RPA lifecycle, how to deploy UiPath, UiPath Modules, UI Automation, UiPath Workshop, UiPath coding & debugging, Screen Scraping and Citrix Automation.

What is RPA?

RPA Automation is a business process automation technology that's also focused on the mixture of its predecessors. It is strongly reliant on screen scraping and workflow automation and is based on Artificial Intelligence. RPA Full Form – Robotic Process Automation (RPA Automation) is a type of software used to automate key tasks in software applications such as how a person executes them.

The software robot can be trained in a workflow/process with various steps and applications, such as receiving documents, submitting a receipt note, checking forms for completeness, logging the form in a folder, and updating a spreadsheet with the name of the form, the date registered, etc. The aim of RPA programming is to reduce the weight of monotonous, straightforward tasks/work on staff.

Why RPA?

With RPA, all of the redundant functions a person performs on a daily basis are automated by a computer. It follows the same steps that a person is taking to complete a task and does so without any human intervention.

For example, at the data entry stage, the data entry clerk visits the same source every day, gets the data from it and fills it, say, in the Excel sheet. This method has a number of specified steps, such as visiting the website, extracting data from it and adding it to the sheet. If a robot can be equipped to do this by just giving it a few basic commands, then why not, okay?

The robot follows these instructions and operates quicker and more specifically. 

This is only one of the millions of tasks that can be carried out using RPA technology. Many companies use RPA for end-to-end automation of day-to-day business operations.

RPA Benefits:

RPA is increasing very quickly because manual processes are not very effective. Manual processes are prone to error and lead to discontent among employees. Whereas, the use of RPA will support organisations in the following ways: 

  • Savings in prices 
  • Improved accuracy and decreased operating risk 
  • Save Time 
  • Simplicity
  • Flexibility 
  • Security 
  • Insights and Research

Industrial applications of RPA:

There are a number of industry-based RPA applications. Some of these are listed below:

Healthcare: Hospital administrative work, such as patient monitoring, medical history, claims system such as complaints, appeals and other data collection works 

Insurance: Data handling, reporting, collection and processing of documents and streamlining workflows.Banking/Financing: copying of data from remote central networks, automation of error-reducing billing system, customer care, credit card, mortgage processing, fraud detection, KYC process, report automation, and account closure process 

Tax: data sorting, automating the data retrieval process, filing a tax appeal on the basis of the information obtained and reducing manual data entry processes. 

Retail: categorization of goods, updating of orders, handling of counterfeit accounts and processing of shipments notifications.

Human Resources: Applicant sourcing, employee background verification, on-boarding, payroll automation, employee data management, cost management and absence management. 

Operations: updating inventory records, issuing refunds, procurement processes, such as updating vendor records, and administrative functions, such as commercial finance, order alerts, shipment notices, etc.

Telecommunications: control of subscriber feeds, fraud management and update of customer data 

IT and Customer Services: Optimization of routine activities such as data entry, system checks, day-to-day backup, system management tasks, diagnostics running, sending scheduled bulk emails, and so on 

Miscellaneous: quota-to-cash, procure-to-pay, data-cleaning, and data extraction from various applications such as PDF, Excel, Word, etc.

RPA Architecture:

The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) architecture is a combination of multiple tools, frameworks and different infrastructure elements to form a full RPA tool.

Several blocks are available in the RPA solution are shown in the following diagram.

IMAGE

Robotic process execution systems – This is well suited for business applications such as ERP, SAP or any other record management programme. These programmes are data intensive and filled with repetitive tasks. 

RPA Tool – Build software robots to automate applications in the Desktop, Web and Citrix environments. Excluding handling, ability to write to/from different data sources and create reusable components.

RPA Framework – RPA Software bots can be placed in a centralised repository and shared through software robot libraries. The RPA platform has the potential to develop practical insights into the bots and the execution process. 

RPA Execution Infrastructure – Serves as a bank of parallel physical or virtual lab machines managed by patterns of use. Computer scale up or down parallel to achieve automation may also be carried out.

Configuration management – Upgrading bots to a newer version is finished. Branching and merging of RPA bots is also carried out as they can be reused through libraries.

RPA is a mix of different platform layers and resources that make up the entire architecture. These layers include process, subprocess, object, and component. 

  • The process layer is meant for Business rules,Hand-off point and prioritization.It focus on the business rule without the need to build ties and Simplify the transitions.
  • Subprocess layer is meant for reusable business logic, identity, verification etc. 
  • Object layer is meant for performing some specific tasks.
  • The component layer is meant for individual screen interaction.

RPA Lifecycle:

The life cycle of RPA does not have a fixed structure, but in general, there are four stages of RPA. They're:

Analysis: identification of the business process for the production of RPA 

Development: meeting the requirements 

Testing phase: efficiency of quality tests 

Deployment and management: deployment and maintenance of bots

Now let's explain in detail:

Analysis phase:

Analysis is the beginning of the life cycle of RPA. A team of market analysts and RPA architects work together to come up with a proposal for why they need RPA and how it can be useful to them. They use developmental methods to develop a technique for automating activities in order to minimise manual labour as much as possible. The leader of the RPA agrees on a timetable to get this strategy to work. After the paperwork and the rest of the formalities, the production process begins.

Development of the bot:

The development team is beginning to work on the automation specifications. Depending on the type of automation needed, coding may or may not be involved. Typically, there's no coding here. But there may be exceptions to this.

Testing Phase:

Depending on the form of automation built and the company, the bot is tested either by the development team itself or by a separate testing team, which is similar to normal software testing.

Deployment and Maintenance:

After the successful development and testing of the bot, it is now ready to be deployed. Once deployed, if there appears to be a problem, the development team is reviewed and tested again. Every time the bot is deployed, it is maintained and updated.

Next we will learn about the RPA tools.

RPA tools:

As RPA steadily becomes a dominant emerging technology in the industry, more and more businesses are leaning towards inculcating RPA in their back-office tasks. This has also contributed to an exponential rise in demand for RPA software. Various methods for implementing RPA are available on the market. These methods are used by companies to describe a job workflow that needs to be automated using RPA. In this RPA tool tutorial, we will look after the different RPA tools.

Now we will learn the following concepts in the RPA tools.

Functionalities of RPA tools:

The key features of a good RPA tool are as follows: 

  • Based on feedback received from other systems, the bot should be able to make decisions and carry out the assigned actions. 
  • The bot should be able to communicate with other systems by screen scratching or other API interactions.

Categories of RPA tools:

The three main categories of RAp tools are:

Programmable RPA Bots: They're the first generation of RPA software. It involved programming, and the programmers needed to code and understand their work to get the bots to carry out tasks. 

Self-awareness tools: After vigorous employee action, the developer/employee understood the procedure, took over the platform and began executing the task.

Intelligent or Cognitive Automation Bots: Cognitive Automation Bots are self-learning Bots with advanced features such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Image Recognition. They can handle both structured and unstructured data.

How to select the right RPA tool:

The RPA industry has no shortage of providers of RPA software who say that their product is the best. With so many RPA tools on the market, it shouldn't come as a surprise that companies struggle when selecting the right RPA tool. The option can vary for different organisations depending on their requirements, but the key selection criteria remain the same.

The key features to be searched for in any RPA tool when selecting one are described below. 

Architecture:The architecture of the RPA tool depends on where you plan to use it. Various controls and commands built into the RPA tool can define its features and capabilities. Deployment and maintenance of the RPA tool also rely on its layered architecture.The architecture checklist must have the following markings: stable delivery, reusability of materials, incorporation of robotics without altering the legacy framework, ease of accessibility, and support for common language.

Simple use: The RPA tool should be easy to work with for end-to-end business tasks, and it should be easy enough for an analyst with limited programming experience to understand and construct automation and configure the workflow in the RPA tool. The tool should be versatile enough to accommodate simple process automation with extended commands, wizards and GUIs.

Reliability: The RPA tool is said to be accurate based on the ability of the tool to manage diverse use cases with broad data and different circumstances. Output quality does not degrade when performing different iterations.

Scalability:The assessment of the RPA tool must involve how rapidly and efficiently it can respond to business requirements, changes, exceptions or increasing operations. It also contains the execution parameters where the tool is being evaluated to check whether it will support multiple bots to run multiple workflows.

Flexibility: The tool must be capable of supporting a variety of operating systems. It must also allow you to customise custom features without paying extra for customization to the vendor.

RPA tools list:

Several technologies are currently available for robotic process automation. But the five key methods used by different organisations around the world are as follows: 

  • UiPath
  • RPA Blue Prism
  • Automation Anywhere
  • Kofax Kapow
  • NICE

The RPA tools cannot automate processes on their own. All they can do is establish the workflow of the job. RPA tools are only used to build a programme or an application that determines the workflow of a task that needs to be automated. Entities programmed to perform the task by imitating human actions are called bots. Bots are essentially configurable machine configurations that are used to execute tasks with the aid of commands and codes in a specific sequence.

There are 3 bots namely:

  • Task bots
  • Meta bots and 
  • IQ bots

RPA UiPath:

RPA UiPath is a pioneering RPA platform that helps the enterprise efficiently automate business processes. RPA UiPath is an open platform that is easy to learn and work with. It is also extensible, with hundreds of built-in, flexible and deep integrations with ERP, BPM and AI technologies. It delivers quick results and has been shown to offer 40% faster automation design and implementation. Using RPA UiPath, we can train bots through machine learning and they are enterprise scalable and stable.

Now let's go through the various components of Uipath and architectural history.

UiPath Components:

The Uipath platform consists of three major components.They are:

  • Uipath Studio
  • UiPath Robot
  • UiPath Orchestrator

Now let's go through these components one after the other.

Uipath Studio:

UiPath is a visual designer that lets you create automation workflows with pre-built activities. The characteristics of UiPath Studio are as follows:

IMAGE

  • GUI Dashboard – offers a visual dashboard with predefined activities to create automation workflows. 
  • 3 Complexity Levels – UiPath Studio allows you to create projects based on 3 levels of complexity, such as Sequence, Flowchart and State Machine. 
  • Recorder Types – UiPath Studio offers different types of recorders to record actions on multiple platforms, such as Basic, Desktop, Web, Image, and Native Citrix.
  • Logging & Exception Handling – UiPath Studio's Ribbon Tab provides a range of debugging and exception handling options, such as Debug, Open Logs, Slow Stage, etc. If you would like to learn how to use these options, please refer to my Error Handling post. 
  • Integrate with OCR technologies – UiPath Studio can integrate screen scraping with various OCR technologies. 
  • Reusable Components – You can build reusable components with the UiPath Studio to publish them together as Libraries.

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So in simple terms, UiPath Studio is used to build automation workflows with the aid of which tasks can be automated. 

Now that you've understood what UiPath Studio is next in this article on UiPath RPA Architecture, I'm going to tell you about UiPath Robot.

UiPath Robot:

Automation workflows created by the UiPath Studio are executed by the UiPath Robot. So to perform any of your activities, you need to make sure that the

UiPath Robot is in a running state. You may also have a single or multiple robot operating at the same time.

UiPath Orchestrator:

Orchestrator is a product of UiPath that allows you to orchestrate UiPath robots in a continuous repetitive process on different platforms.

IMAGE

First of all, you need to build robots to perform your mission. Then you need to create a project and publish it so that you can use it as a process. If a process is created, a robot must be assigned to run this process in a specific environment, and this will create a task. 

Now that's the simple workflow on how the Orchestrator works. But let me take an example and show you how the UiPath architecture functions.

Scenario:

Consider the scenario where you built an automation workflow in the UiPath Studio. Now once you publish your idea, the NuGet Package will be generated automatically. The NuGet kit is designed for the Microsoft Development Platform and is used to read the.NET files. After that the project is submitted to the Orchestrator Server. Please refer below.

IMAGE

You can now deploy this specific project on any number of computers by mentioning the System Key. Automatically, the Ui.Robots perform and track tasks if they are a back office operation. Similarly, if it is a front-office operation, the user will execute a project or a mission, and the Ui.Robot will only control the task.

So that's how the UiPath Orchestra works. If you would like to know more about the UiPath Orchestrator, please refer to my Orchestrator blog, which talks about how to login to the Orchestrator and deploy the Robot. 

Now that you've learned the components of the UiPath Framework, let me show you how these platforms work together and make up the UiPath architecture.

UiPath Architecture:

The Uipath architecture consists of three layers. They are:

  • Client Layer
  • Server layer
  • Persistence layer

IMAGE

Let's speak one by one about each layer. 

The Client Layer, beginning with the Client Layer consists of the UiPath Studio and the UiPath Robot. As I stated earlier, UiPath Studio is the place where you create automation workflows, and then UiPath Robot performs those tasks. 

Now the UiPath Robot has two components you need to know about:

UiPath Agent Service: This service is used to view the jobs available in the device tray. You may also request to start/stop jobs and modify the settings. 

UiPath Executor Service: This service is used to run a given job during a Windows session.
Now, once the Robot is able to perform the mission, the project can be submitted to the Orchestrator Server. You can run the project on different PCs with the aid of the Orchestrator. The Orchestrator controls the deployment, setup, queue management and logging. 

The next layer in the image is the Persistence Layer. This layer consists of a database that takes care of queues and queues. It also consists of information on the configuration of robots and their assigned procedures.

Recording and Screen mapping in Uipath:

The UiPath recorder enables users to record mouse movements, keyboard activities to produce automation scripts. Activities are reported and generated as sequences. The record choice can be found on the Design page.

Recording in UiPath

There are two types of recorders: automatic and manual recorder.

Screen Mapping in Uipath:

Screen scraping is a key component of the RPA toolkit, is used to collect bitmap data from the screen and cross-checks it with the information stored to decode it. From the Design menu, press Screen Scrap.

screen mapping

Highlight the region to be scrapped, open the Extracted Data Screen Scraping Window. Works on application components that are not accessible via a code or UI system. Text digitization by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is possible. It's simple to implement, and always effective.

There are three common methods of screen scraping – 

  • Full text – all identifiable objects on the UI object are erased 
  • Native – scrapes text, often captures the text's location, colour, font type. 
  • OCR – virtual desktop scrapping and Citrix software

Workflow and Citrix Manipulation:

How to invoke a workflow?

Workflow is a series of individual processes performed in UiPath for the automation of activities.

Why do we need workflows?

When we're designing a big method, it's hard to follow and validate the process from top to bottom. It is therefore recommended that each process be divided into small processes, checked and invoked in the main workflow. We can switch arguments from one workflow to another. You may simply add UiPath.Core.Activities.InvokeWorkflowFile or press add an InvokeWorkFlow operation to the first workflow.

Why do we need workflows

We can use three different parameter forms as an argument – 

  • IN – Arguments passed in, not returned.
  • OUT – NULL value, is not of significant importance
  • IN/OUT – This indicates meaningful values on input & output values

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Data Manipulation:

Data of various kinds can be placed into variables, and there are a few variables you can use in the UiPath Studio. They can be of three types: 

  • Scalar – Character, Boolean or Number 
  • Collections – Arrays, Lists, Strings – are a set of characters and dictionaries that are used when separating information from the Orchestra queues. 
  • Tables – are two-dimensional structures that contain information divided by rows and columns.

In addition, UiPath Studio contains one kind of factor, the GenericValue variable, which is designed to make the use of fundamental activities easy. This variable type can interact with key types of data, including information, numbers and date/time.

Citrix Automation:

The tools and methods used throughout Citrix are for virtual machines, so UiPath cannot interpret them directly. We need to teach the robot about filling, screen scraping, etc. A virtual machine is a kind of computer device emulation. The Citrix recording wizard is an important tool used for automation. We can execute certain mouse clicks, keyboard shortcuts, screen scratches, data inserts, data retrieval, etc. Virtual world, including how we worked on desktop and web surfing.

UiPath Coding and Debugging:

The UiPath operation is like a collection of blocks in the UiPath automation phase. UiPath comes with a number of built-in core tasks. There is a possibility to build such personalised activities to automate processes for ease of use. Two essential steps are required to build a custom operation. They're: 

  • Writing your personalised activity code 
  • Adding external assembly (.dll) to UiPath.

Uipath Automation Debugging:

UiPath Automation Debugging is a method that detects and eliminates errors in the programme. It is done to make sure that the applications are error-free. Breakpoints are used to interrupt the execution of the project to verify the state at a given stage.

uipath automation debugging

UiPath Studio works with a debug module which is used to quickly spot complex and intricate workflows. There is also an in-time engine to log & check errors in the workflow. The UiPath workflow designer will report these issues to the user. During debugging, the Properties Inspector panel shows the related properties for active action and the current value of all the declared variables. We can also slow down the debugging process with the Slow Phase option.

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Conclusion:

I hope this tutorial will help the professionals who want to become an expert in RPA technology. In this tutorial we had covered all the sections required to become proficient such as RPA, Why RPA, various tools in RPA, the life cycle of RPA, how to deploy UiPath, UiPath Components, UI Automation, UiPath Workshop, UiPath coding & debugging, Screen Scraping and Citrix Automation. Moreover RPA Certification Training will make you an expert in dealing with automation problems.

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Srivalli
Srivalli
Research Analyst
As a senior technical content writer for HRK tainings, srivalli patchava has a greater understanding of today's data-driven environment, which includes key aspects of data management and IT organizations. She manages the task of creating great content in the areas of software testing, DevOps, Robotic process automation. Connects with her on Linkedin and Twitter.