Often times when the word “robot” is used, people naturally envision a humanoid figure made of metal and other mechanical components. That’s why it’s easy to understand the inaccurate conclusion that many have drawn about robotic process automation essentially taking the place of human workers. Fortunately, the concept of robotic process automation does not involve manufactured people sitting at desks and working. To the contrary, it’s really just a software product that can interface and interact with applications on behalf of human workers.
Robotic process automation ultimately meant to make jobs easier for people, not replace them completely. Sounds an awful lot like IT Process automation, right? So, what’s the difference? Let’s take a look.
First, let’s take a more in-depth approach to what RPA is and how it works. RPA gets its name from the “robot” technology that drives it. This technology can be programmed to perform routine, repetitive tasks that were once handled by humans. Let’s say an office worker spends 2-3 hours per day performing manual labor, such as data entry or batching. RPA could be programmed to handle these tasks without the need for human input. Instead of a robot replacing that human worker, it would be more like a robot assisting them. Those extra hours could then be used on other, more important tasks.
While both RPA and ITPA operate under similar concepts, the difference typically lies in how each is used as well as their complexity. Presently, robotic process automation is primarily being used more extensively at an end-user level. For instance, office workers that may not be well-versed in programming and other complex IT tasks can leverage RPA for many of their day to day tasks. This can significantly boost their productivity by allowing them to focus on more critical job functions that cannot be automated.
ITPA is based on the same concept; however, it tends to be leveraged primarily for more complex workflows. For instance, IT Process automation might automate incident management in a way that handles incoming alerts, analyzes, verifies and prioritizes them, notifies the appropriate parties and then, upon the desired action being taken, completes the workflow and closes the ticket. This is a much more complicated process and is usually overseen by experienced IT professionals. Of course, this is just one of many complex scenarios that automation can be used for in the IT department.
Essentially, it can be said that RPA is automation for the end-user while ITPA is more behind-the-scenes automation. Both are designed to improve efficiency, boost productivity and cut costs, but the way they are ultimately used is slightly different. Additionally, both IT Process automation and robotic process automation can be integrated with existing legacy systems to further enhance operations, either on a basic or more sophisticated level.
Which solution is right for you? There’s no simple answer to that question. It would ultimately require a thorough needs analysis to determine what features would be required. From there, you can begin narrowing down your options until you determine the right product for your needs.