Written by Jeremy Kuhlenbeck
What Is RPA
Years ago, GPS was introduced to automatically steer you to your desired location without printing out paper directions from MapQuest or physically looking up the address on a paper map. This luxury, now a part of your daily routine, was something that revolutionized a person’s lifestyle. Now, we have Robotic Process Automation, or RPA. I believe that RPA could largely change your repetitive daily tasks, just how GPS changed your daily driving. Yes, this is meant to be a broad stroke. In every field of work, repetitive tasks are being tackled by automation behind the scenes only to provide you the luxury of time to get to work on what truly requires your attention.
I believe that RPA will do to your repetitive daily tasks what GPS did to the map.
In this article, we will dive into the training and instructional aspects involved in RPA, how to receive your Developer training and certifications, and what types of other roles are also involved in an RPA implementation. We will focus on RPA through the lens of UiPath, a leader in the industry and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant leader in RPA Software.
What are the Different Types of RPA Roles?
While the primary role for an RPA implementation is the RPA Developer, there are a few other roles that are involved.
UiPath’s training is grouped into learning paths for the following roles:
• Business Analyst
• Implementation Manager
• Infrastructure Engineer
• Solution Architect
• RPA Developer
Some of these roles may be fulfilled by one individual wearing multiple hats, but as RPA gets a foothold in your company, you will begin to see one or more individuals in each role. From the beginning, it’s important to establish your company’s standards, so look to develop an RPA Center of Excellence or RPA CoE. If that responsibility falls to you, then definitely take the time to complete the classes for each role’s learning path.
What You Will Learn
Let’s take a look at RPA Developer training. This role speaks to the heart of RPA – the part that makes automation happen.
RPA Developer Foundation course
The RPA Developer Foundation course trains you in the following:
• Variables, Data Types, & Control Flow
• Data Manipulation
• Excel & Data Tables
• User Interface (UI) Interactions
• Project Organization
• Error and Exception Handling
• PDF Automation
• E-mail Automation
• Orchestrator for Developers
• Robotic Enterprise Framework (REFramework)
You may find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed at the list above. Do not worry. Let’s look at the positive side – this list shows us that UiPath has done a great job of breaking down the necessary components. The training is well organized and hands-on. The hands-on part is important because you will feel confidence growing from the moment you start using the software since UiPath is primarily drag-and-drop and very intuitive.
The first two bullets in the points in the Developer Foundation course list are key to understanding and working with data once you bring it into UiPath. Setting the correct data types determines how you are able to manipulate the data. Note, data can be a single digit, a string of characters like a phrase, an entire document’s text, or even an image.
The next couple of bullet points help you understand how to interact with the usual applications on a computer. Applications can be installed applications like Excel, Word, Outlook, Adobe Reader, or a custom application developed for your company. Applications can also be web-based like Quickbooks.com or Salesforce.com.
The last two bullets in the list will advance your developer training beyond the basics.
Orchestrator for Developers
Orchestrator is the server component in UiPath’s software that allows you to centrally manage automations and bots. The course allows you to practice “connecting robots, publishing packages, running jobs, and using assets and queues.”
Robotic Enterprise Framework (REFramework)
UiPath has developed a state machine framework template. Don’t know what those words mean? Again, don’t worry.
First, realize that this is a template. For you. For your automation.
The template is a development model provided by UiPath to get your projects started quickly while incorporating exception handling mechanisms.
The state machine simply means that your automation is grouped into phases:
1. Initialization (Init) Phase: Load your webpages, open up applications, log into things that are needed for the automation, acquire the data / datasource, etc.
2. Get Transaction Data Phase: Get the next piece of data to be processed
3. Process Transaction Phase: Do something with or to the data
4. End Process Phase: This is the cleanup section of the automation where you close browsers if the automation used one, log out of applications, etc.
RPA Developer Advanced course
The RPA Developer Advanced course does a deep dive into the overall best practices utilizing the prebuilt REFramework template. Do not fret if you are not familiar with the state machine model. I was not. UiPath’s training definitely helps you to get familiar with this model and the template they provide.
This course will take you through three in-depth projects using the REFramework, each one expanding on the pieces built in the previous project. One of the main lessons to learn here isreusability with the code or workflows that make up your automation.
Mastering these projects all but ensures your ability to pass the hands-on portion of the certification.
A couple notes on certification. There are two parts to the certification test. The first is a timed multiple-choice question test. There is a heavy focus on the Foundation Course, so make sure you pay attention to the quizzes along the way as you work through that course.
For additional study, do a google search and look for results from Quizlet.com. Many people have created flashcards for everything you need to study, and they are available out on Quizlet. If you see Level 1 or Level 2, just know that the Foundation Course is an updated and combined version of Level 1 and Level 2 from UiPath’s previous coursework. The questions and answer will still be the same.
The multiple-choice section will also ask you questions about the phases in the state machine. If you see a question mentioning the Init phase, the Get Transaction Data phase, the Process Transaction phase, or the End Process phase, you know they are testing you on the REFramework template.
The second part of the certification test is the hands-on test. This hands-on automation project is not quite as difficult as the three projects in the advanced course, so build your confidence by mastering the advanced course and then don’t worry about the hands-on part of the certification test. While the hands-on project is a timed project, UiPath allows… actually, UiPath wants you to reuse the workflows you previously built in the advanced class.
Where You Can Learn
You can find good UiPath training on a couple sites, but don’t overthink this. UiPath has built a great learning site with a multitude of courses and grouped them all appropriately into the various roles for RPA. You can find all this training at UiPath’s Academy site.
As of right now, the training on UiPath’s Academy is still offered for free, so take advantage while it lasts.
Finally, do not hesitate to reach out on LinkedIn if you get stuck. Toiling for more than five minutes most likely means you need a little help. Reach out to the UiPath community or message someone that has already gone through the training.
As for the other sites that offer training, they are good, but this article is long enough. I’ll touch on some of those classes in a future article.