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Robotic Process Automation

Learn how to develop effective and efficient robotic tasks for your business.


As the cost of labor increases, businesses find that investment in automating rote tasks through software is much more attractive. The cost savings for outsourcing work isn't as compelling as the cost savings for robotic process automation (RPA) solutions.

Appian RPA automates high volume, highly transactional manual processes to free up your workforce to focus on tasks and initiatives that require reasoning and human intervention. By delegating these responsibilities to a robot, you can also ensure data quality and consistency where compliance is concerned and such standards can't be compromised.

RPA represents a new paradigm in business process automation. Appian delivers:

  • Full-stack automation: Appian offers RPA that fully integrates with business process management (BPM), artificial intelligence (AI), and case management to provide the right automation technology for the right use case. Unite people, robots, and AI to tackle high-value and high-volume work that involves different levels of cognitive engagement.
  • Powerful governance: As your RPA practice grows, you can centrally manage, monitor, and deploy robots across the organization to increase scale and performance.
  • Secure, cloud-based RPA: Appian Cloud is secure, globally available, and trusted to run mission critical, enterprise applications, including those that use robotic tasks.

Note:  Appian RPA is not available as part of high availability (HA) configuration at this time, but it won't impact other HA features in your environment. See High Availability in Appian Cloud for more information.

Tip:  As you begin to learn about Appian RPA, you'll learn the related terms and phrases. We've developed a glossary to use as a reference.

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a series of scripted programs that perform routine actions a person normally does. A process takes data as an input, performs actions, and provides an output, either in the form of additional data or accomplishing a task. In the case of RPA, these processes often interact with user interfaces, making them able to interact with legacy systems that might not have APIs or other more technical means of interaction.

Consider the following example: you're asked to regularly copy customer information from an email and paste it into your company's lead tracking software. This is a manual task that doesn't take much thought, but takes a lot of time. Think about how much time you'd save if you delegated this task to a robot. Instead of copying and pasting information hundreds of times, the robot takes care of it for you.

Robotic tasks act much faster and more precisely than a human being does. These routine tasks are not only completed faster, but have fewer errors. Robotic tasks can also step in when humans could be performing other tasks that require higher levels of thinking, such as tasks that require judgment or complex evaluation. So instead of copying and pasting data, you can spend that time contacting potential customers and building relationships.

RPA transforms business processes to be more efficient, highly available, easily replicated, and reliably consistent. Automation lets businesses delegate routine yet time-consuming tasks to a computer program, freeing up an employee's time and mental energy to focus on more impactful and high-value work. RPA saves businesses time, money, and brain power.

About robotic tasks

Among other objectives, Appian RPA replaces manual tasks with programmed robotic tasks. Robotic tasks interact with applications the same way that humans do. Robots perform repetitive tasks based on rules, allowing people to focus their efforts on activities that require problem solving or personal interpretation.

RPA differs from traditional automation in its non-intrusive nature. Robotic tasks don't necessarily need to access databases, nor do they have to communicate with computer systems by invoking functions, web services, or APIs. Instead, robotic tasks interact with the user interface itself, using application windows in the same way people do: moving the mouse, clicking different menu options, and entering or reading data from the screens.

The following diagram shows how you develop and execute robotic tasks through Appian:

For in depth information about robotic tasks, see the page Robotic Tasks.

How does Appian RPA work?

Appian RPA is made of multiple components hosted in the Appian Cloud and in the customer environment. These components communicate during the development and execution of robotic tasks, as shown below:

Appian RPA's web-based console is where developers and administrators create and configure robotic tasks, robots, and other RPA objects. You don't need to know how to code to realize the power of Appian RPA; instead, you can use low-code methods to configure actions in the workflow.

Who uses Appian RPA?

There are three main user types in Appian RPA: administrators, developers, and operations managers. Developers design and configure robotic tasks, connect the necessary components, and deploy robotic tasks, while administrators set up robots and configure additional settings from the console. Operations managers help manage and troubleshoot robotic tasks that encounter problems. Learn more about Appian RPA user roles.

RPA integrates with Robotic Workforce Manager (RWM), where you can view reports that provide insight into how often and quickly a process runs. This data can be used to help demonstrate the value of your business's robotic automation implementation. RWM also lets you execute robotic tasks without having to access the Appian RPA console.

If you are currently using RWM to automate some of your business activities in Appian, take a look at the RWM docs to learn more about how the two work together.

Robotic Workforce Manager (RWM)

Appian Robotic Workforce Manager (RWM) can help you manage your automation practice without granting wide access to the Appian RPA console. RWM supports adoption and implementation of RPA across your business and can help you manage automation requests, monitor robotic tasks, and address any issues that arise.

RWM is available and pre-installed for new Appian Cloud sites with RPA enabled. If you are adding Appian RPA to an existing site, you can download and configure RWM separately.

Java development

Technically speaking, a robotic task is made of two main parts: the Java code and a workflow. Robotic tasks rely on Java artifacts stored in the console repository. The Java code works behind the scenes to power the robotic task. Java developers use Maven to push new or updated Java methods to the repository. These artifacts can then be used in the robotic task definition.

To develop new methods in Java, you need to write the Java code locally and deploy it to the console repository. You can then create a workflow to configure the steps a robotic task should take when it starts. You can use both default and custom methods to configure these steps.

When a robotic task runs, the orchestration server retrieves the needed Java artifacts and assigns the execution to a robot. The agent on the robots are constantly polling the orchestration server and will see this new assignment. The agent then retrieves the artifacts needed for the robotic task to run (if not already on the robot) and start the execution.

This diagram demonstrates how Appian RPA components communicate:


Prefer to work with Java? Get started with custom code development in Appian RPA.

Open in Github Built: Fri, Apr 19, 2024 (06:07:39 PM)

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