The 7 crucial RPA developer skills
Automation requires knowledge of topics from process assignment to system integration. To implement robotic process automation, commonly referred to as RPA, companies need highly skilled professionals who are familiar with managing automation processes.
While the technology side of RPA is important, the ability to understand the business-side requirements and processes is also vital. Companies can hire an RPA developer with all of these skills or build a team where each member brings some of the desired skills to the group.
Like hundreds of companies across the country, Mitchell Martin Inc., has one IT personnel service provider based in New York, hires talented experts in RPA, both for its own personnel requirements and for working with its customers However, CTO Anthony Giardina said it is difficult to find developers with all the skills and experience necessary to ensure that enterprise RPA initiatives are successful.
Hiring managers look for these RPA developer skills: knowledge of existing technology, business process expertise, process mapping, change management, data analysis, supplier evaluation, and collaboration.
1. Coding skills
“Many RPA platforms are based on the Microsoft .NET Framework,” said Tony Abel, RPA Practice Leader at Protiviti, a management consultancy based in Menlo Park, California. “Visual Basic .NET (VB.NET) is the primary programming language. It is used by RPA developers to access Microsoft’s prepackaged method library and to process all of the data types that may flow through an RPA solution.”
Because Microsoft Office products are among the most common applications used by businesses, Abel says they are also among the most commonly hit applications by RPA efforts. Many RPA platforms offer low-code functionality out of the box. He noted, however, that RPA developers benefit from having experience with Visual Basic for Applications, an event-driven programming language that enables the automation of tasks in Excel and MS Office applications.
2. Knowledge of the technology environment
“You need people who can bring ideas and records to life with code and communicate with all critical applications and devices,” said Paul Flaharty, district president at Robert Half, a Menlo Park-based provider of enterprise IT people and management solutions. Calif.
3. Business process knowledge
An RPA team needs professionals who understand the company’s business and the processes that drive it. This expertise helps you identify which processes are good candidates for RPA or some other form of automation.
“You have to have someone who understands the process very well and understands every variance that shows up in automation,” said Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis at CompTIA, a trade association that oversees and issues professional IT certifications. Robinson found that familiarity with methods like Six Sigma or Lean is one of the most attractive skills for RPA developers.
4. Process mapping skills
Mitchell Martin’s Giardina said he also needed RPA developers who could reduce processes to their most basic parts, track the movement of each of those parts, and clearly map the flow of decision logic through a software system. These architectural skills may require familiarity with process mining software Analyze the data and logs created during various processes and identify potential bottlenecks. Additionally, these RPA developers should be able to interview employees on the corporate side to understand what exact activities they are performing that make up the larger business process.
5. Change management functions
You don’t need the most advanced developer to create the automation.
RPA development teams need technical change management skills, Abel said. Updates to systems that are integrated into automated processes can have undesirable effects. Because of this, Abel, who leads the company’s RPA solutions team, wants RPA professionals to have a clear understanding of how and why a change affects programs that automate tasks. They then need to decide what updates to make to the RPA bots in response to these current or upcoming changes.
6. Data analytics experience
For Robert Half’s Flaharty, a competency in data analysis is one of the best skills any RPA developer can do. RPA converts complex data sets and process knowledge into a set of defined rules that are used to organize and automate tasks, he said. “You start with the record and get to a finished product.”
Similarly, Robinson of CompTIA demands math skills – especially probability – in RPA developers. Probability plays a huge role in handling automation deployments that include machine learning and AI components.
7. Experience with RPA platforms
Hiring managers say it is helpful for members of their automation teams to have experience with RPA tools in the marketplace that span the low-code model, including tools like Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, EdgeVerve, Kofax, NICE, Pega, and UiPath . While coding skills are a large part of RPA, candidates familiar with these platforms may not necessarily need extensive coding skills or expertise in a number of programming languages to get their job done. “You don’t need the most advanced developer to create automation,” said Giardina.