RPA migrations hastened through API bot interactions

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Blueprint Software Systems has released a new solution for migrating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to the Microsoft Power Automate platform. This could shift the balance in the RPA market towards lower-cost offerings from Microsoft with native integration with popular productivity applications.

Leading RPA companies, including UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism, have longer lead times to Microsoft. These companies have built a substantial base of loyal corporate customers. However, they also faced challenges in terms of scalability, management, and high cost.

Dan Shimmerman, CEO of Blueprint, said, “We are seeing a strong desire in the area for RPA programs to switch RPA providers. The providers have oversold and undersold in terms of ease of implementation and value recording. “

Microsoft recently stormed the market with a promising and cheaper alternative. Existing RPA customers, however, faced the prospect of rewriting their RPA applications and management tools. “In the past, migrating an entire digital workforce was incredibly expensive and time-consuming, so this was basically a non-starter even if there was a lot of interest in Microsoft’s offering,” said Shimmerman. Blueprint’s offering could dramatically reduce these costs and prepare organizations for better governance.

RPA versus low code

Before RPA emerged, process efficiency experts developed a whole science around business process management systems. Process winks pounced on a company trying to figure out how processes work and how to redesign them, and then worked with business process management suites to turn those into actionable business processes. But many processes were difficult to change.

Other vendors began experimenting with software that mimicked keystrokes and mouse clicks for simple but essential tasks, such as copying data from mainframe apps to desktop apps. Analyst Phil Fersht coined the term Robotic Automation to describe this new feature that was eventually renamed from Blue Prism to Robotic Process Automation. However, these apps only automated tasks, not processes, as process specialists thought.

Meanwhile, a new development paradigm has emerged that focuses on low-code development tools. While RPA traditionally mimics human interactions, these low-code apps are driving automation through application programming interfaces (APIs), which are much faster and more robust. Even with these new tools, RPA has still grown significantly. One factor may be their close alignment with the way users think about applications. An RPA bot is instantly understandable for any user and can work with any app at the user interface (UI) level, which offers considerable flexibility.

In developing and evolving Microsoft Power Automate, insights were gained from both the RPA and low-code camps to offer the best of both worlds, with applications that could be built similar to RPA bots, but could run at the speed of low-code apps.

Bringing the process into RPA migrations

Both RPA and low-code tools have traditionally focused on the technical side of automation. In contrast, Blueprint began with a focus on the process paradigm of application development and management. It provides tools for creating executable documents that describe current processes, governance requirements, and an optimal workflow.

While Power Automate makes it easy to create automations, Blueprint provides an enterprise context. Users can see where their automation fits into higher-level end-to-end processes and ultimately into customer journeys or business value streams. This improves the alignment between automations and applicable business rules, company policies, regulatory obligations, and other company restrictions.

Blueprint also provides a common vocabulary for all RPA platforms. Collaborative development capabilities enable business and technical users to interact through inline discussions, storyboarding, and Quire review capabilities. It also includes functionality for generating functional tests and acceptance tests, and automatically pushes new automations to the target RPA platform.

Separation becomes easier

Moving RPA bots from one platform to another is not for the faint of heart. “The platforms have very different designs and implementations and were never intended to interact with each other in any way,” Shimmerman said.

For example, commands for interacting with known applications are sometimes similar, sometimes very different, and sometimes none. In addition, the different platforms manage variables, types and scopes differently. Additionally, most companies rely on documents to indicate their automations that may be missing or out of date.

The new tool Blueprint Enterprise Automation Suite refactors RPA bots into a common object model. It then determines the percentage of this process automation that is directly compatible with the target RPA platform. It also helps organize the requirements for new code that developers need to generate.

Early adopters were able to reduce migration costs by 80% and triple the migration speed. Instead of building their bots from scratch, companies could migrate and then fill in the details.

“Switching to Microsoft is no longer an intimidating feat, but it is quite doable. Through our partnership with Microsoft, we are already seeing a lot of interest and movement to start migrations, ”said Shimmerman.

In the meantime, RPA providers don’t sit still. UiPath has improved its tools for creating large-scale automation programs. Automation Anywhere has completely redesigned its platform to take advantage of cloud-native capabilities. And Blue Prism has shifted its focus from RPA to programmable digital workers.

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July 24, 2021