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When Power Automate was first launched in 2016, Microsoft called it Microsoft Flow because it was uniquely suited to simplify, streamline, and automate business workflows. They eventually rebranded it as Power Automate, an apt name given its process automation capabilities. A key feature of Power Automate is RPA – robotic process automation, which is focused on reducing repetitive manual tasks, thereby increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and eliminating human error. In today’s blogpost, we will look deeper at RPA and explore how to use Power Automate to set up and run a simple RPA. Let’ get started!
It probably makes sense to begin the discussion with some baseline definitions. We’ve already explained what RPA is at a high level, but you also should know that there are actually two basic types of RPA: Attended and Unattended.
Attended and unattended RPAs can work independently or in tandem. Collectively, they empower organizations to run faster, cheaper, leaner, and with a greater degree of accuracy (when human intervention is reduced or eliminated, so too is human error).
With basic definitions out of the way, let’s turn to why the best tool for RPA (and there are hundreds out there) is Microsoft Power Automate.
One of the most common challenges facing businesses today has to do with legacy technology and disparate systems. Across all industries – and particularly Financial Services – today’s customer expects the organizations they do business with to have their information at their fingertips. But that’s difficult when bits and pieces of information are scattered across several different systems, especially when those systems don’t connect or communicate with one another.
It used to be that joining disparate systems was too costly an endeavor because it required professional developers. Of course that all changed with the introduction of Microsoft Power Platform – and especially Power Apps and Power Automate, which empower citizen developers to take matters into their own hands, so to speak, and begin building low-code solutions that not only connect disparate systems but also automate workflows. Hey, who needs an army of professional developers when your end users can become citizen developers using intuitive and powerful tools from Microsoft?
One of the biggest advantages of Power Automate, specifically, is the fact that it offers native connectivity to common apps or a company’s own legacy API (Application Programming Interface). In fact, the out-of-the-box version of Power Automate has more than 300 connectors and a no-code way to connect to any internal services. And the beauty of Power Automate’s RPA capability is that it can connect to all legacy enterprise applications – even those without APIs.
Why does that matter? Well, some legacy applications are simply too old to support API connectivity, a deal-breaker limitation for most automation software solutions – but Power Automate’s RPA offers a way to bypass the issue altogether: as Microsoft explains, “End users can automate their work in these applications by recording manual tasks such as mouse clicks, keyboard inputs, and data entry, and then automate the replay of these steps to integrate with more complex process automations.” And there you have it!
At this point, we’ve defined the key terms, as well as shared some insight into why Power Automate is the best automation tool on the market AND offers the most complete RPA solution. Finally, then, let’s turn to how to set up and run a simple RPA using Power Automate.
As our example, let’s consider a Financial Advisory Firm operating on a legacy system.
Every time one of the firm’s Financial Advisors meets with a client (and there are hundreds of Advisors who each meet with clients all day long), they collect all kinds of new and updated data about the clients’ investment portfolios, risk tolerances, goals and objectives, retirement plans, new life events, etc. This data must then be extracted from each Advisor’s desktop and uploaded to the firm’s legacy CRM.
When it is done manually, either by the Advisors or human data processors, it creates thousands of opportunities for human error, not to mention it’s just a giant waste of human time! With Power Automate, you can create an RPI flow that automatically does all of this tedious, risky, manual work for you. It goes something like this:
In this manner, we have seamlessly integrated the legacy software across modern applications and services without a big upfront investment. Stated differently, we have securely scaled across our entire organization with confidence while simultaneously mitigating (nay, eliminating) risk.
Learn how you can take the entire Power Platform above and beyond in our “go further with Power Platform” interactive infographic. At HCL-PowerObjects, our experts help clients get the most ROI out of their technology investment. Learn more here: https://powerobjects.com/exp-improve-roi-microsoft-power-platform/.