Mary Ann Richardson is an independent IT analyst at technology research firm CMR Executive Advisory, focused on providing individuals and organizations with the information they need to use technology more productively and to make better business decisions. A former Gartner analyst, Ms Richardson is also a frequent contributor to online technology sites. Here are the six essential skills to be successful as an RPA developer, she recommends mastering.
RPA platform skills
One of the essential skills hiring managers look for is experience with RPA platforms, the most popular being Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and UiPath. These tools provide out-of-the-box, low-code, drag-and-drop functionality for building RPA bots. They allow developers to automate tasks relatively quickly without extensive coding. Certification courses are available for each of these three RPA platforms.
Business process management
Developers must first comprehend their company’s operations and the factors that shape it to recognize and propose which operations will benefit from RPA or which may not. Also, if there are any exceptions. They should speak with employees directly engaged in the company’s operations to learn particular tasks they undertake to get an understanding of the processes. Knowledge of business process management approaches such as Six Sigma or Lean will aid in the development of these abilities.
Basic workflow skills
Basic workflow skills are essential for designing and building workflow for bots. Working with decision diamonds, decision trees, decision tables, state machines, UML diagrams, and BPMN notations are few of the skills to master. These skills are essential for building and testing all possible paths for robotic workflows. RPA developers will also be required to create a Process Definition Document (PDD) that defines each step and produce a flowchart showing the step-by-step sequence, so documentation skills are vitally important for communicating their design to others in their team. Courses in business process modeling and optimization and Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) will help them master these skills.
Data analytics experience
Data integration skills are significant to Phase 2 of RPA. Bots will often use data coming from an organization’s relational databases. The most efficient way for bots to access this data is through SQL queries. As a result, developers should have a solid understanding of SQL. Furthermore, any data analytics skills will aid in the transformation of complicated data sets and process knowledge into a set of specified rules for job automation.
Debugging, testing, and updating robots
Unfortunately, bots will not always work as planned. For the debugging and testing phase, a developer will need strong problem-solving skills to find bugs, no matter where they may lie–within the code, script, or even the workflow design itself. They will need to know how to determine which tests should be performed and how frequently they should be performed. This will need familiarity with testing ideas and debugging techniques.
Even though RPA tools are low-code, developers should still analyze the processing behind these tools. For that, they will need some coding expertise. As RPA implementations grow more complex and scale with use, they will need to know the underlying languages of RPA platforms to develop and maintain them. For RPA systems based on the Microsoft.NET Framework, for example, knowing Visual Basic.NET offers them access to Microsoft’s library of prebuilt methods to handle all potential data formats. Task automation is also possible with VB for Apps in Excel and other MS Office applications.
Additionally, knowledge of Python will enable RPA developers to write custom code and access libraries that will allow bots to perform more complex functions more efficiently, including those which involve numerical data. Finally, since most RPA implementations input and output text, developers should also have advanced knowledge of string operations and use regular expressions such as dates and account numbers.