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Chapter 4

RPA Testing: How To Perfect Processing and Data Extraction

As humans, we all make mistakes sometimes. That’s why testing everything is key to ensuring we produce the best outcomes. When you have a business process that hasn’t been fully tested and fails, it can lead to a range of other consequences other than your process not working. Think of lost investments, wasted time and even reputational damage for the teams involved and for the larger organization in the industry.

The same principle rings true for any implementation of robotic process automation (RPA) within your operations. Now, as organizations continue to transition to RPA as a go-to solution, thorough testing and review are critical to ensure seamless and optimal operations. Read on to learn more about RPA testing and some best practices for you to adopt.

RPA Testing

RPA Testing Framework

RPA testing is just one critical step as part of your journey to RPA implementation and should be an important consideration in your plans when building your business case for RPA. While it’s called RPA testing, its significance also extends beyond and applies to intelligent automation (IA).

IA expands on RPA’s capabilities through its integration with cognitive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), business process management (BPM) and more, with the task-based functionalities of RPA tools.

IA advancements further necessitate the need for comprehensive testing to ensure automations are reliable, effective and seamless within organizations.

What is RPA testing?

RPA testing, or automation testing, is testing processes to prevent defects by evaluating work products such as requirements, user stories, design and build. It verifies whether specific requirements you’ve created have been fulfilled and the test completes and performs as expected by business users and stakeholders.

Moreover, RPA testing provides an invaluable opportunity to uncover process irregularities that might have been overlooked during the documentation phase. As people may interpret and utilize systems differently, automation might encounter challenges when executed by users in ways not initially anticipated. Robust testing helps to uncover and rectify these potential issues, ensuring that automations perform as intended.

Why do we need to test our RPA?

Overall, testing helps businesses comply with contractual, legal and regulatory requirements in addition to the other reasons we’ve mentioned. RPA bots, while amazing, are not fool-proof and can encounter failures. Rigorous testing will uphold their quality and reliability.

Testing vs debugging vs quality assurance

There are a few misconceptions about testing, and a common one is its confusion against debugging and quality assurance. While they sound like they’d be similar, they aren’t the same.

Testing is the process of verifying and validating that automated processes are bug-free and meet technical requirements, while handling all the exception and boundary cases. Debugging is the process of fixing a bug in the solution. Quality assurance is a related concept but involves checking that the right processes are followed to achieve the expected level of quality. Here’s a quick comparison table:

RPA testing


Quality assurance

Verify and validate automated processes for bugs and against technical requirements.

Addressing bugs and anomalies in a solution.

Ensuring adherence to proper processes/

Related to broader quality management.

Development activity.

Related to broader quality management that includes quality assurance and quality control.

Carried out by the designated tester.

Carried out by developer.

Carried out by a quality assurance team.

Benefits of RPA testing

We’ve mentioned the benefits of RPA testing throughout this article, but here’s a speed run-through:

  • Enhanced reliability of automation.
  • Error identification so you can rectify issues.
  • Compliance assurance.
  • Process optimization.
  • Operational efficiency.
  • Cost saving as it prevents potential breakdowns.
  • Improved user experience.
  • Increased confidence.

RPA Testing Best Practices

Now that we have the foundations of RPA testing set, let’s talk about the best way to do RPA testing. At SS&C Blue Prism, we’re strong advocates for shift-right testing, also known as testing in production or live proving. Our solutions were developed with shift-right testing in mind, with functionality to execute automated processes in steps.

There are a few reasons for this, but it’s mainly because shift-right testing means:

  • Digital workers are ‘trained’ in the environment where they’ll run.
  • Defects not found in other testing environments are found.
  • Improved solution quality, thereby providing better business owner and end-user experience.
  • Encouragement of early and frequent testing for developers.

However, testing in production is not entirely risk-free; it will need to be performed as part of the automation lifecycle at some point.

Best practices

The best practices to implement when testing are:

1– Understand your business process and plan early

Initiate testing from the early stages of your RPA development to catch and address issues before they become too ingrained in the process and harder to solve. Also, having a good understanding of the reasons for automating will help ensure tests are relevant and the need for them understood. You should review your process definition document (PDD) from process discovery sessions and any other resources to help build test scenarios based on business rules.

2– Comprehensive testing

You should plan/maximize test coverage while limiting business risk. Use real browsers and applications to gauge how digital workers will function. No simulator or emulator can replace real-world conditions. Also, test when traffic is high so you can understand your solution in the most challenging conditions. Input your data, information and results into a test script description. A comprehensive test script reduces the likelihood of omitting important test cases or scenarios, minimizing the chances of gaps in testing.

As RPA solutions can change frequently to suite updates, enhancements or modifications, you might also want to have regression testing to ensure changes don’t negatively impact previously functioning automated processes.

3– Don’t forget to get feedback

Engage other stakeholders when testing, like RPA developers, business owners and end users, to get a diverse perspective. A feedback-driven approach helps ensure the RPA you develop is not only technically working but operationally and functionally effective.

4– Diverse testing

While automated testing tools are widely used, it’s recommended to cover all your bases and deploy other types of testing, such as manual testing. This might include ad hoc testing, where you deviate from the test plan to uncover unforeseen issues or exploratory testing to see how RPA behaves under different scenarios.

Learn more about use cases for RPA to see some scenarios.

4– Monitor closely and manage defects

It should go without saying that you need to monitor your tests constantly and closely, especially if you choose to undergo shift-right testing. When running production tests, keep a close eye on important metrics of user performance. If there’s a major negative impact or something occurs, be prepared to shut the test down quickly.

Effective defect management relies on meticulous attention to detail. Provide accurate descriptions, screenshots, test data and any other information to ensure a faster and more effective fix.

Test it Right

Training your digital workers in staging environments only increases the risk of that digital worker performing incorrect actions in production. That’s why we suggest shift-right testing as part of the solution. Testing in production should be part of a well-designed, scalable and highly resilient testing routine to deliver the best-of-breed solutions.

Next: Chapter 5

Find Your RPA Methodology

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