At its very core, the goal of automation is to take routine, repetitive tasks off the hands of time-strapped employees. Robotic process automation (RPA) solutions are designed to do this, but some lack an important feature that can make simplifying your tasks much harder than it needs to be—API connectivity. In this blog, we’re going to take you through the definition of both RPA and APIs, share use cases, and explain how they’re different, but ultimately how they work together to build stronger automation.
What is RPA?
Robotic process automation—also known as RPA—is a technology that uses software robots to streamline repetitive tasks for humans. These digital workers interact on the user level with applications and systems the way a human would. Bots can click buttons, type login credentials, read words off a PDF, and other GUI interactions. By taking over these front-end tasks, the human workforce is freed to focus on more strategic work.
5 Examples of RPA in Action
Once you get started with an RPA solution, the possibilities are endless. No matter your industry or department, there are many unique RPA use cases to consider. Here are just a few real-world examples:
There are many manual tasks involved with the employee onboarding process. From provisioning Active Directory, to setting up payroll, these tasks can easily be handed over to RPA bots. See how one credit union started their RPA journey with onboarding and expanded to achieve a 3,800% ROI. Learn More >
Verifying and Closing Malicious Incidents
Using GUI and web browser automation, RPA bots for the security operations team at PhishLabs help verify and close incidents in their system. When a website is requested to be taken down, the bots visit the website to verify, then close out the incident in their system. This frees their analysts to focus on protecting clients from cyber criminals. Learn More >
Data Extraction and Transformation
With automated data extraction and transformation, the team at Top Bakkers can better support customer service by processing data faster. RPA bots work with the data involved in the order and invoice processes, as well as write data to a central database, to keep everything flowing so the team can focus on providing their customers with delicious baked goods. Learn More >
Manually converting new policies for over 200 school districts from a WordPerfect file to Microsoft Word would have taken the Oregon School Boards Association up to 8,000 hours. But with RPA bots, they created a process to automatically convert each policy file that takes only 60 hours. Learn More >
As part of their service offering, PSCU Financial Services checks member credit unions’ online applications to ensure they’re up and running. They couldn’t continue manually checking every 30 minutes, so they turned to RPA to do the website validation automatically. Learn More >
What are APIs?
5 Examples of APIs in Action
When you enable automation through APIs, you achieve another level of automated workflows. Take a look at these examples of API automation in action:
Centralized Application Integration
With many disparate applications needed for key workflows, ALD Automotive used API integrations to enable end-to-end automated workflows. API capabilities brought together their ERP software with SQL and Oracle databases, as well as connecting with various webservices. Learn More >
Using APIs, Summit Credit Union closed the gap between application to close to achieve automated mortgage processing. By connecting Blend to Mortgage Cadence, they automated loan transfers, credit orders, e-consents, and more. Learn More >
By connecting their employee mobile app and scheduling system through APIs, Variant Schoonmaak can provide immediate availability of employees to build a robust schedule to ensure full coverage. And they’re also able to have employees check in and out of job sites to keep an accurate count of their hours that is automatically input in their system. Learn More >
Before turning to automation, employees at Hopkins Canada had to manually pull together 24 daily ERP reports at two company sites. But by connecting their VISUAL ERP with their reporting application via APIs, they were able to automatically run their reports without manual intervention. Learn More >
Call Center Management
As workloads grew, Ricoh Italia’s staff was feeling the pressure to keep up with customer demands in their call center. But connecting their various applications—like email, forms solution, CRM, and order fulfillment—through APIs, it streamlined their processes so call center agents could fill customer requests more quickly. Learn More >
The Big Differences Between RPA and APIs
Connecting applications to your RPA tool with code or GUI automation can get messy and complicated. First off, if you don’t have code-writing skills, you need to get a developer involved. And from there, it needs to be coded from scratch, and if there are changes to any applications, you could be met with errors until you update your code. GUI automation simplifies these connections, especially if your RPA tool has a screen recorder, but like with code, a GUI is prone to change without notice.
Using native API integration ensures you’ll be able to connect to applications without writing code. The connection is made behind the scenes, so you don’t have to key anything into a graphical interface. And if there’s a change to how an application looks, the API integration isn’t affected. You can just set it and forget it.
RPA Integration: How RPA and APIs Can Work Together
APIs allow you to connect your critical business applications with your RPA solution directly within the automation script. Like most businesses, you probably use many different applications and systems throughout the day. RPA takes out the time-consuming and often error-prone work of getting data back and forth between these systems. And while you can achieve automated application integration through coding, GUI automation, or other means, using APIs makes it even easier.
Application integration also extends beyond just your newer business software. Some companies still have legacy applications that are still working well for their needs but need a better way to get information from these systems into the modern applications. An RPA solution with API capabilities helps take your data from old to new so you don't have to change everything and replace things. API integration can act as middleware to bridge these gaps and keep everything working in sync.
Why RPA & APIs for Your Organization
RPA uses software robots to streamline repetitive tasks like data extraction, file conversions, and website validation. And APIs provide simplified communication between your applications and systems for centralized application integration. RPA tools use APIs to directly connect to critical applications for a stronger, more robust connection for transforming tedious tasks. And if your RPA tool has native integrations, the connections can be made without writing code. RPA can act as middleware with APIs bridging the gap between legacy and modern systems. Overall, an RPA solution with API integration capabilities can better help keep your data and systems in sync.