Have you ever experienced the sheer magic of a seamless online process? Perhaps while booking a doctor’s appointment or indulging in some online shopping, you've been left in awe by the swift appearance of a confirmation note, an instant order update or real-time tracking information. In those moments, you might have thought, ‘Wow, that was fast!’
If so, you’ve just encountered RPA and the modern-day wizards who orchestrate them — RPA developers.
What Is RPA?
Robotic process automation, RPA for short, refers to the use of software robots that you can teach to carry out step-by-step tasks or business processes within an organization’s existing systems and applications. These automated tasks, including sending follow-up emails, scheduling appointments and collating tracking information, are carried out exactly how a human would do it. It basically frees human employees from doing monotonous, laborious and repetitive tasks so they can be free to focus on the higher-value ones, such as providing better quality customer service.
It's all about using these software robots, sometimes referred to as RPA bots, to handle low-value, repetitive jobs. This is because:
- They work exceptionally quickly compared to humans performing the same task.
- They don’t make mistakes, so long as they’re given the right instructions.
- They work 24/7, no vacation, no sick days and no dips in productivity.
What Is an RPA Developer?
You can’t have RPA without RPA developers. They’re the individuals behind designing, developing and implementing RPA bots — essentially overlooking all RPA actions. You can kind of think of an RPA developer as the team captain; they assign the roles and ensure everyone is doing their job and producing desired results.
RPA developers are usually specialized in the platforms they use, such as on SS&C Blue Prism!
What does an RPA developer do?
RPA developers play an incredibly important role in identifying, creating and implementing automation in an organization. Tasks for an RPA developer can vary day-to-day; they can be juggling multiple projects, fixes and requests — some more technical than others — but let’s take a simplified look at what RPA developers are responsible for:
A request for automation comes in…
Most RPA developers start the process by receiving a request from a business user. It can look something like this.
“Hi! Could you please help front-line clinic staff relieve some pressure from appointment bookings? They’ve been spending a lot of time going back and forth between doctors and patients on the phone to find an available time.”
As an RPA developer, you would need to strategically think about if this process could be automated or should be automated in the first place. The most ideal candidates for automation tend to be those with repeatable, high-volume and manual processes driven by business rules. Here, you might also ask several questions for all the requirement scenarios. This helps you create effective automation solutions that actually meet the needs of the business user.
Sometimes, RPA developers might not start with a request. Rather, they are the ones taking the initiative to go out and look for automation potential within their organization in line with the organization’s vision.
Before RPA developers work on designing the solution, they want to carry out a process analysis to understand how existing processes are working. RPA developers might look at current processes, workflows, inputs, decision points and outflows to see how and if automation can help.
A tip from our community here: Use software, such as the SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Assessment Tool (PAT), to assess automation candidates. RPA tools like this help give you data and statistics to make informed decisions about automation potentials.
Designing is a crucial aspect of the role of an RPA developer. Here’s where they start building the actual automations rules, triggers and parameters. You might be thinking, ‘Oh, here is where I need technical knowledge, right?’ Well, it depends.
Most likely, you’ll need some developer knowledge to ensure your automations are created properly. But if you’re looking to dip your toe in the metaphorical RPA pool, try becoming a citizen developer. With the advancements in technologies, automations can actually be created by business users themselves using no-code/low-code tools. That means you’re not relying on your technical knowledge to create automations; rather, you’re relying on your strategic problem-solving abilities and using easy graphical interfaces to design suitable solutions.
In the designing stage, RPA developers will also consider points like:
- Will there be a human in the loop?
- How often will this automation need to run?
- What are the triggers?
- Have I accounted for everything?
- Do I need extra software?
- Am I following the best practices as outlined in our Center of Excellence (CoE)?
SS&C Blue Prism Community Member, Vipul Tiwari, shares, “The main lesson I learned from this project was the importance of spending more time on design and selecting the right tools. Not every project is suitable for automation, so careful consideration needs to be given to the design and development process. I believe that the design and development time ratio should be 60:40, with 60% of the time spent on design.”
RPA bot testing
Much like you wouldn’t buy a car without testing it, you wouldn’t set an automation free without trying it. Testing helps RPA developers identify any unexpected issues or problems that they might not have considered or missed. It ensures that automations are functioning as intended, meet the standards set out prior and don’t disrupt existing business operations. Some tests that RPA developers might do at this stage:
- Function testing to see that it performs as intended.
- Data testing to see that the transfer of data is working accurately and validated.
- Integration testing to see if it interacts with all the necessary systems and applications appropriately.
- Exception handling to see if RPA bots are working even if handled in unexpected scenarios and don’t lead to system failures.
- Security testing, especially if the RPA bot is handling sensitive data.
- Scalability testing to see if increased workloads can be handled without compromising performance.
Be free … but monitor
RPA developers don’t just create and forget. Part of the job is continuously monitoring and adjusting RPA bots and automated systems, so they are performing as intended, optimized for work and not encountering errors. This proactive approach often means that RPA developers can catch any anomalies or errors before they escalate into a larger challenge.
What skills are required to be an RPA developer?
An RPA developer’s skills will depend on the developer’s role and company, but most of the time, you’ll see the following
- Logical thinking
- Attention to detail
- Security awareness
- Teamwork and communication
- Project management
- Appetite for learning
- Analytical skills
- Programming (Python, Java, C/C++, etc.)
- RPA platform knowledge (e.g., SS&C Blue Prism)
- Integration (APIs)
- Testing and debugging
How do you train to become an RPA developer?
You can train to be an RPA developer through the SS&C Blue Prism University courses. These courses are open to anyone, anywhere, at any time! There are loads of learning paths you can take — with official certifications that have industry-wide recognition.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend taking our introductory courses to learn more about the general knowledge behind certain concepts and terms. We also have courses specifically for different levels of developers that help boost your skills as you go along. This is a great way to get you started to become the best RPA developer you can be.
Where To Start as Beginner RPA Developer
Automation truly possesses the transformative power to revolutionize processes and systems for the better, and we couldn't be more excited about individuals who share this passion. We highly recommend the following roadmap to help guide you on your journey:
- Start by understanding the basics. Do foundational courses on RPA and intelligent automation, and familiarize yourself with concepts and terms, especially with RPA’s relation to intelligent automation (AI), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and more.
- Choose an RPA platform. There are a few options out there, but obviously we suggest SS&C Blue Prism. We also have an award-winning community where our members are happy to answer questions and support your RPA journey. Don’t forget to download our free e-book about getting started with automation, with tips and tricks from our very own community of RPA professionals.
- You might need to learn a programming language. Depending on what you want to do, you’ll need to find the right programming language to learn.
- Online courses and tutorials. We’ve made it even easier to find the courses you need. Take our short quiz to find the learning path suited for your role.
For some, true learning comes from doing. Apply your knowledge to small-scale projects to see how far you can go.
Get started with SS&C Blue Prism today – you can even try it for free!