Robotic Process Automation and Test Automation

By XTGlobal Posted 08-May-2020

Greater dependency on technology to create new products and the increasing need to get these products to the market faster is pushing companies towards automation. Agile methodologies and rapid development cycles in application development have become a must for companies to reach ahead of others. Automation testing is one such process that has made product and application development faster and easier across different browsers, devices, and operating systems. The market is full of several test automation tools in the market, which promise to enhance product performance, save costs, and make employees more productive by freeing them from routine testing processes.

Automation testing does not exactly replace manual testing but makes testing more repeatable, faster, wider in scope and depth and executable for complex test cases that run into thousands. Automation testing eliminates human errors, can simulate hundreds and thousands of users, and can prevent errors at the development stage itself.

RPA or Robotic Process Automation, on the other hand, is automation of repeated processes using advanced technologies like AI. RPA and test automation are two very distinct processes with different but related applications in the field of testing. This blog tries to clarify how these two different technologies can be used to create fail-proof applications quickly and at a lower cost.

RPA - An Overview

RPA may sound futuristic, but it is actually present in every application on our mobile phones or computer in the form of chatbots or form processing or online registrations. RPA is the use of robotic tools to reduce human intervention in certain processes or operations within an organization. RPA mimics human abilities using AI with a computer interface or any software application to do certain operations such as inputting data, collecting information, or executing a workflow process. More and more companies are using RPA in some form or the other in their regular operations because it allows greater efficiency and accuracy, cost savings and increases compliance. As a result of automation of monotonous tasks, employees have more time to focus on strategic operations.

In short, RPA can be used to:

  • Automate repeatable tasks
  • Reduce processing time
  • Access advanced analytics and customer-focused visualization models
  • Enable advanced technologies such as IoT and Big Data

Some areas in which RPA can be implemented:

  • Automation Testing

    (E.g., UAT and End-User Testing, GUI Test Automation)

  • Operations and Report Creation

    (E.g., Creation of Invoices, Accounting Records, Data Entry)

  • Procure-to-Pay Cycle

    (E.g., Integration of Various Processes Such as Purchasing and Accounts Departments)

  • Data Extraction

    (E.g., Use of pattern recognition to enter data, product categorization, data conversion into reports, approving matching orders, linking Purchase Orders with delivery notes)

  • Records Reconciliation

    (E.g., Data comparison between different documents like the bank statement and the cash book to identify inconsistencies, Accounting)

  • Process Automation

    (E.g., Applications and Renewal process, account setup, change of address, appointments, audit reports, indexing, discharge notifications)

  • Price Comparison

    (E.g., Matching prices of different vendors by data extraction to get the best pricing options)

  • Data Management

    (E.g., Ticket Booking, Service Order Management, Operational Datasheets, Payroll Records etc.)

  • Report Generation and Dissemination

    (E.g., Compliance Reports, Frauds Claims)

  • CRM Operations

    (E.g., Updating Customer Profiles or Billing Data, Chatbots)

  • Data Updates

    (E.g., Constant Updates on Information Such as Shipping Status or Delivery Dates)

  • Human Resources

    (E.g., Recruitment, Onboarding, Claims Processing, Leave Records)

Are RPA and Test Automation Similar?

RPA is often linked with test automation, but these two technologies are quite different, though interrelated. RPA is also not an extension or an advancement of test automation. RPA is more of a concept whereas, test automation is use of certain tools to automate testing. While test automation is applied to products, say an online application, RPA can be applied across the spectrum of business processes. It can be applied to every aspect of an organization that has routine tasks to be performed. In fact, test automation is one of the areas in which RPA can be applied.

Use of RPA tools in certain kinds of testing processes such as regression testing or GUI test automation also has the same advantages as in other areas: it increases productivity, reduces errors, lowers costs, and helps to maintain compliance. It is a particularly useful tool to replace manual testing that is repetitive, time-consuming and rules based.

Reduces Testing Time Through Automation Reduces the Entire Development Time through Automation of Operations and Workflows
Automates repetitive test cases Automates all time-consuming back-end processes
Coding Required Coding is done automatically and hence requires no or minimal coding knowledge
Supports only few software environments or applications Supports several software environments including web and mobile
Can be used only by technical teams Can be used by anyone in charge of the processes
Depends on the code for execution AI can process additional information as well to make intuitive decisions
Does not support any clerical processes such as data collection or metrics Can maintain huge records of data
Some tools like Selenium are platform- dependent. Platform-independent.
Provides detailed reports on test results for monitoring Provides detailed reports through in-built reporting and validation solutions

Can RPA Replace Test Automation?

RPA is more appealing because of its wide scope of applications and its ability to automate legacy systems and make them efficient. RPA, however, cannot replace test automation because the applications of RPA are different from those of automation testing tools. RPA is more about automating routine business processes and the only place where RPA and test automation converge is when RPA is used to do repetitive test cycles. RPA also increases the levels of accuracy in testing. In other words, RPA and test automation can be transformational in the process of application development.

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