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Got BOTS? What To Look Out For On Your Automation Journey

Mia Urman, Oracle Ace Director and CEO of AuraPlayer

Doesn’t it seem like RPA is the latest buzzword being talked about everywhere?

 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is definitely a hot topic – and for good reason. It is one of the most popular solutions to help businesses solve shortcomings and enhance organizational productivity, efficiency, and stability. But while RPA is helping businesses advance at a rapid rate, Oracle Forms and EBS users are not always seeing the same value and ROI as with other technologies. The challenge is identifying which RPA tools and strategies will work best with the complexities of an EBS environment.

 

As an Oracle ACE Director, I speak with many companies trying to make sense of RPA and how it can enhance their operations. Organizations worldwide utilize Oracle applications as their mission-critical, back-office systems; their entire day-to-day operations rely on them. However, the sensitive and dynamic nature of Oracle systems can make automation challenging without the right factors in place. That’s why the first step of successful automation begins with a thorough examination of the organization’s processes, resources, and automation goals.

 

For those just starting out on their RPA journey, the process can seem daunting. Where do we begin? How do we know if our complex Oracle systems are a good fit for RPA? Will this bring ROI or create more headaches? How do we choose a vendor and solution to complement our dynamic applications?

 

In this article, I’ll share some of the most important elements to consider before implementing RPA. These considerations will help you assess your needs and know how to set yourself up for a successful Oracle RPA experience. I’ll be doing this by breaking down the RPA journey into its three initial phases:

 

  1. – What is RPA, and what can my business gain from it?
  2. – How do I choose the best workflows to begin my automation journey?
  3. – What factors must I consider to ensure the successful deployment of Oracle RPA?
  4.  

Are you looking to modernize your Oracle EBS backend system? AuraPlayer provides you with the fastest and most affordable way to get you there with RPA AutomationMobile Apps, and Automated QA.  

 

Contact us to learn more.

Step 1: What is RPA, and what can my business gain from it?

 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an emerging technology that uses software robots to execute business processes. Tasks are completed just as an employee would but at a fraction of the time and cost. With its end goal to mimic human tasks as closely as possible, RPA takes over repetitive, mundane tasks and elevates operational efficiency to the next level.

 

 

Across industries, many are rapidly adopting RPA (including manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and financial services) to great benefit. RPA enables rapid ROI and cost-savings, increasing productivity and data accuracy, and improving customer experiences and retention. RPA accelerates workflows by eliminating manual, time-consuming tasks while improving data quality and freeing up employees to contribute more meaningfully by working on higher-level tasks.

 

So, how do you know if you’re ready for Oracle RPA? Use the guiding questions below to find out if you can benefit from RPA automation:

 

  • Do you want to reduce manual data entry? 

Delegating menial data entry tasks to an RPA tool increases the availability of employees to work on more advanced analytical tasks.

 

  • Do your workflows include processes that require maximum uptime?

RPA bots work 24/7, are 100% reliable, and don’t get sick or take vacation days. Robots enable work to be completed outside of standard work hours.

 

  • Are you eager to eliminate human errors? 

Although robots are programmed to mimic human users, their actions are flawless, with zero errors and 100% accuracy.

 

  • Do you need rapid automated QA testing and data validation?

If testing and validations delay progress on other development fronts, RPA can accelerate and standardize your QA process.

 

  • Are you interested in reducing costs?

RPA carries out repetitive tasks quickly, accurately, and consistently, saving you valuable time and money.

 

RPA can result in incredible gains. RPA bots are intuitive and easy to install, use, and configure. Just show your bots what to do, and enjoy watching them do the work for you.

Step 2: RPA sounds great, but where do I begin? How do I choose the best workflows to start my automation journey?

Once you decide which workflows to automate, implementation is simple. Most RPA tools are no/low code and are designed to be used by business users rather than developers. Most include automated wizards, recorders, and easy-to-use, drag-and-drop features.

 

If you want to get your RPA program off on the right foot, start by first identifying which processes to automate. You don’t need to undertake complex automation projects to tackle all your business processes at once. Instead, the best practice is to begin with a single automated workflow, enabling you to learn how to use the RPA tool and test it. Then, phase in additional automations and scale up in complexity and quantity as needed.

 

At this point, you might be wondering: Which processes can be automated? How do I determine the most suitable use cases for automation – my low-hanging fruit?

 

To identify the best workflows for automation, use this helpful checklist:

 

  • Choose the most valuable workflow.

There are different approaches for determining the most valuable workflows for RPA. Some believe the most valuable workflows are repetitive tasks performed by the most expensive employees. Others suggest identifying the processes with the highest repetition, regardless of who is doing them. We recommend using the following measure:

Value = Cost of the process X the number of repetitions in a certain period.

 

  • Choose a process that has clear rules or a fixed decision point.

RPA bots need clear parameters. Optimal flows for automation are those that don’t require decision-making or have defined rules. This route creates components that can be reused easily.

 

  • Choose a flow that has a consistent, repeatable pattern.

Automation works best when outcomes are predictable and consistent. Some applications present different pages for different situations, resulting in dynamic workflows.

 

A more challenging situation is an application with dynamic exceptions that needs event handling. In most cases, these kinds of applications open a popup window and change behavior based on dynamic responses from the end user. Such cases will be difficult for a bot and would require that automations be captured for all possible responses.

 

  • Choose flows with a clear and accurate input and response.

The more clear, accurate, and consistent the data is, the more smoothly the automation will run. When data is inconsistent, it may affect the flow and the automation complexity.

 

  • Choose flows that involve several systems or applications.

A huge advantage of RPA is its ability to synchronize between different systems, which can bring tremendous value by eliminating manual integration. However, don’t forget the golden rule — choose only high-value workflows!

Checklist: Choosing the right workflows for RPA

Identifying the most suitable and valuable workflows to automate is essential for achieving ROI from your Oracle RPA strategy. RPA should optimize existing processes; don’t automate a process just for the sake of automating it. Organizations need to think critically about which tasks to automate. Tasks that are not ideal for automation are actions that are one-off or infrequent, unpredictable, decision-laden, or can be done quickly and easily by employees. Automating these types of tasks would not bring the same value as those outlined in the checklist above.

 

While it can be tempting to begin with automating processes that are exciting and ambitious, being practical is the best way to lay the groundwork and begin building your RPA infrastructure. Jubilee Life Insurance is a great example; they used Oracle RPA to create a virtual DBA after discovering that 60% of their DBAs’ time was spent on internal processes, such as unlocking users’ accounts and changing passwords. Their virtual DBA now handles all of these back-end requests and more – freeing up employees and enabling requests to be handled without delays, 24/7. Learn more about Jubilee Life’s automation journey here

AuraPlayer works with customers to identify ideal use cases for automation. See how our customers are successfully implementing RPA and mobility tools. 

We’re happy to help guide you in selecting use cases. Contact us for a free assessment.  

Step 3: Now that I know what I want to automate, how can I be sure I’m choosing an RPA tool compatible with my complex Oracle workflows?

Once you have assessed a need for RPA and identified the most valuable use cases, the next step is to select the best RPA tool for your journey. RPA proves most beneficial on complex data entry applications – such as Oracle EBS and custom systems developed using Oracle Forms – but the complex and dynamic nature of Oracle systems makes it critical to select the right RPA tool. The incredible gains from RPA can quickly be offset if the wrong tool is deployed.

 

Many RPA tools can capture Oracle processes and claim to support Oracle E-Business Suite. But success and ROI depend on the tool’s capability to easily capture Oracle workflows while maintaining security and stability of the automations.

From our years of experience working with many Oracle-based companies throughout their RPA journey, we’ve identified that the major challenges in Oracle RPA lifecycle management appear in five common areas:

 

-Lengthy process capture

 

-Lack of Oracle error handling/missing error descriptions

 

-Time-consuming script bot maintenance/need for constant re-recording

 

-Dynamic pop-ups/hidden fields that disrupt automations

 

-Complicated process to move between environments/deployment

 

Below, I’ve outlined the important questions to ask RPA vendors when assessing an RPA tool’s features and capabilities and determining if it’s the best tool for your Oracle system’s sensitivities and dynamic nature. To get the greatest ROI from your Oracle RPA strategy, choose a tool with these considerations in mind.

 

  • How does the RPA tool capture Oracle workflows?

Traditional RPA solutions capture processes through screen scraping or screen image capture. This often requires selecting and adding each field to an RPA workflow diagram; this can be a lengthy process if workflows span dozens of pages and hundreds of fields. To maximize ROI, focus on solutions that use no/low code process capture, such as those with recording toolbars to capture fields online as the developer steps through the workflow.

 

  • Can the automations handle dynamic pop-up windows and hidden fields based on personalizations?

Most out-of-the-box automation tools are not equipped to handle the dynamic nature of EBS. Frequent pop-up windows and hidden fields can cause disruptions during automation. That’s why it’s critical to ask a provider how their tool responds to pop-up windows, customizations, and flexfields, and if custom code is required for each variation. This type of additional development can offset the ROI from RPA.

 

  • Is the RPA solution able to return Oracle error messages in real-time?

When experiencing an error, many RPA solutions freeze and return generic system errors or timeouts, requiring the RPA technical team to spend hours investigating and resolving issues. Oracle automations require attention and real-time knowledge about pop-ups, error messages, and status bar and FRM messages to ensure effective debugging and stability. Ask prospective RPA vendors what can be expected when errors occur, so you can assess how great or small the setbacks will be.

 

  • Can the automations withstand UI changes, patch installs/versions, and other environmental changes?

As traditional RPA automations are reliant on the item location on a page, any UI variations made from routine patches and upgrades will cause the automation to stall or fail with system errors. In this scenario, the automated process needs to be recaptured. This type of recurrent maintenance can be time-consuming and offset the productivity gains achieved from the RPA. Ask vendors if Oracle flows will be affected by UI changes and patch installs.

 

  • Can the RPA tool move easily and quickly between environments – from development to staging to production?

Many RPA tools require each process to be recaptured for each environment. This can negatively impact ROI due to time spent on recapturing flows, the added risks of capturing the same process in each environment, and the time needed to perform extended QA to validate the flows. Ask vendors what’s required to move between environments and into production.

Checklist: Questions for RPA vendors

Conclusion


No matter where you are on your automation journey, one thing is for sure: automating your mission-critical Oracle workflows can bring significant gains across your organization. With a global market share steadily growing, and expected to rise to $13.74 billion by 2028, more and more organizations are adopting RPA to handle key challenges in the post-Covid era, including inflation, supply chain disruptions, and massive layoffs and turnover. However, when it comes to successful Oracle RPA, it’s important to make an informed and deliberate decision to select the right workflows and the best tool for your organization. 

 

The checklists and guidelines in this article are here to help you determine your automation needs and assess the compatibility of RPA tools with your dynamic Oracle system. When done right—with an RPA tool that protects and works efficiently with your Oracle applications—there is no doubt that automation can help take your business to the next level and beyond.

 

Check out the next post in this RPA series, where I delve deeper into RPA best practices, share success stories, and describe common pitfalls you’ll want to avoid in your RPA projects. 

David Buch
Senior Products Manager

David, our Senior Products Manager, is a highly experienced professional specializing in product definition, innovations, and development, with broad customer understanding, and skillful people management. He has over 20 years of R&D work experience, and continues to excel in his expertise. When he is not working, David enjoys spending his time as a professional tuba player joining symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles.

Elizabeth Pearl
Relationship Manager

Before joining AuraPlayer, Elizabeth completed a Masters degree in Education and worked as a teacher. Elizabeth’s role as Customer Relationship Manager combines both her passion for technology and her deep desire to educate  others. On a daily basis, Elizabeth takes the valuable insights she gained as a teacher and uses them to rise within the world of tech. She uses her skills of active listening, organization, preparation, and clear communication to enhance the wonderful relationships she has with both coworkers and customers.

 

Elizabeth is originally from the United States but currently resides in England. In her spare time, she loves exercising, spending time with her family and friends, and playing volleyball.

Nathalie Wasserman
CFO & Operations Manager

Natalie is proud to be AuraPlayer’s Operations and Chief Financial Officer. She takes pride in her work, and loves being a part of the AuraPlayer family. Prior to working at AuraPlayer, Nathalie worked at various companies as an accountant. She attended the University College London (UCL), where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in economics and business. She then went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Political Economies in Eastern Europe. 

Gwen Edwards
VP Business Development

An expert in helping businesses seize their potential and grow, Gwen is committed to take AuraPlayer to the next level. With over 30 years of experience in the high technology sector and working with Fortune 500 companies, she works as an advisor for growing businesses to help enhance their value and reach their business objectives. She’s a dynamic member of our team, leveraging her sales and marketing, and P&L experience to our current and future product suite.

Gwen also serves on a several private company boards in Silicon Valley, and is an active member of the angel investment network, Golden Seeds.

Yossi Nakash
CTO & Co-Founder

A true developer, Yossi has been developing and coding in Java / J2EE, C++, .Net, and C# for over 20 years, focusing mainly on the RD side of things. Entering the Oracle World about 10 years ago, Yossi immersed himself in the world of Oracle SOA, Weblogic, EBS and EBS Mobile, as well as the Java side of things.


Prior to joining Mia to found AuraPlayer, Yossi held the role of RD team leader at RadView and was a Java developer at Motorola.