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Blog | May 23, 2023

Attended vs. Unattended RPA

Attended vs. Unattended RPA
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Robotic process automation (RPA) is one vital step of the automation process, deploying software robots to perform manual tasks and free employees to focus on higher-value work.

By adding artificial intelligence (AI) to your RPA robots, you get an intelligent automation (IA) digital workforce to streamline business processes and automate workflows.

Most organizations start their automation journey by utilizing the ‘easy’ tactical advantages, such as alleviating back-office employees from the tedious back-office operations they dread. Those tasks tend to be laborious, data-rich, and repetitive, leaving them vulnerable to human errors. With RPA and IA, those challenges can be met, and efficiency goals exceeded.

An SS&C Blue Prism survey shows 93% of businesses that are struggling to meet customers’ demands see automation as a way to overcome this challenge, and 93% plan to extend their use of automation beyond just back and front-office activities.1

Most people think there are two types of RPA, but there are actually three: attended, unattended, and hybrid. And depending on your organization’s goals and restrictions, you’ll want to consider each form of automation.

What Is the Difference Between Attended RPA and Unattended RPA?

While the essential idea behind RPA is the same – it eliminates errors and repetitive front and back-office tasks – there are different methods to a good deployment strategy depending on your business needs.

What is attended automation?

Attended automation requires manual triggering of your robots to complete a specific activity. The robots are supervised by a human (human-in-the-loop or HITL) to tell them to perform the assigned repetitive tasks.

What is unattended automation?

Unattended automation allows your robots to be triggered automatically to complete entire processes. Unattended automation doesn’t need human involvement and can is done through rules-based processing.

In its simplest form, attended automation requires a human while unattended automation does not.

Attended RPA

Attended RPA works alongside your employees like a personal assistant, available on their desktop to automate day-to-day tasks. However, attended RPA must complete each task fully before the human workers can move it to another activity.

Benefits of attended RPA

Attended RPA allows your employees to monitor your process automation while running activities such as real-time data entry tasks. You can optimize repetitive tasks and increase employee productivity by removing those time-consuming procedures from their workload.

Attended RPA requires minimal setup since robots are assigned a pre-set schedule of specific tasks. These bots eliminate tedious functions such as data entry for more accurate processing. That allows employees to spend their time addressing customer needs, thereby improving employee and customer satisfaction.

An example of attended RPA is activating a bot to fill in a contact form – working far faster than if done manually.


For those organizations requiring high standards of governance and security, SS&C | Blue Prism® Desktop runs automation on employee desktops, ensuring enterprise-level control, security, scalability, and auditability.

Attended automation usually requires human intervention and is run on one specific user’s desktop. That can make your RPA complex and difficult to scale. Plus, there’s a chance of data loss and cybersecurity threats due to poorly managed automation. That’s where Desktop answers those challenges. With Desktop, you get desktop-based attended automation with the full benefits of central management and control.


SS&C | Blue Prism® Interact is a collaborative platform for attended automation, designed to address more complex processes requiring either manual initiation or cooperation between human and digital workers.

Interact is a human intervention automation solution that allows you to attend to your end-to-end processes, making it easier to manage exceptions and optimize processes.

Unattended RPA 

Unattended RPA doesn’t need direct human interaction to start an automation process. It runs on its own, meaning users don’t need to interrupt their work to trigger a process. The unattended robots are already programmed to achieve a specific objective.

Benefits of unattended RPA

Unattended RPA has many of the same crucial benefits as attended RPA, the biggest differences being the level of accessibility and the ability to self-trigger.

Unattended RPA can reduce operating costs with easier adaptability and scalability based on changing business needs. It minimizes the effort spent on tedious tasks such as managing inventory and orders or handling payments.

Your unattended robots can be accessed remotely, meaning they can run on desktops, on private servers, or on the cloud. Users can then interface with the automation remotely or from a virtual machine to manage, analyze and schedule your bot operations in real time. This is especially useful for organizations requiring uninterrupted, 24/7 operability for their automation.

Often referred to as the “set and forget” automation – meaning there are no people involved in the execution process – unattended RPA still gives users full oversight of their progress whenever they want.

An example of unattended automation could be helping contact center operations agents by introducing self-service tools such as chatbots to answer common customer questions.


When running unattended RPA, you still want a robust digital workforce. SS&C | Blue Prism® Enterprise easily sets up unattended automation, establishing a unified workforce where your digital workers perform like full-time employees and digital colleagues to your people.

Enterprise’s autonomous software robots mimic your human workers within legacy and modern applications to automate business operations. It gives access to no-code, drag-and-drop process automation with reusable objects for easier scalability. You can also assign processes to your digital workers, get a centralized view of their performance and enable SLA-based orchestration.

Plus, Enterprise automatically logs every action taken within the system to provide irrefutable audit trails – addressing the needs of a highly-regulated industry.

What Type of RPA Is Right for My Organization?

You may be thinking – what about the third automation type we mentioned earlier? Well, here’s your surprise: you don’t have to choose between attended and unattended RPA. You can combine them for a hybrid approach!

Hybrid Automation

Both attended and unattended automation solutions may each have enterprise applications for you.

Look at what your organization’s industry standards require and how you would like your automation to be managed. Carefully consider the best strategic advantage for your RPA program to help you decide where unattended, attended, or hybrid automation fit.

Intelligent automation provides versatility – that’s what makes it so promising for the future of work.

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