Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is not a new technology. It has been more of a backseat sleeper until a few years ago. In fact, strong roots of this disruptive technology can be traced back to screen-scraping tools from the late 1990’s.

Be that as it may, the credit of being RPA’s spiritual forerunner is given to automation used for unit testing and regression testing by quality assurance engineers in the early 2000’s. This reduced process times significantly and paved way for cost and time saving in the testing field.

Inadvertently, modern RPA has many predecessors that have been used in day-to-day life for almost a decade now. This includes automated bots that post on social media and send out bulk emails or just converse with people over the web. Even the interactive voice response (IVR) systems used in call centers for customer service calls are an early form of RPA.

With that out of the way, let’s try and understand what is RPA, how it will affect the testing field and why you should learn RPA online this year.

What is RPA?

Before delving into RPA’s importance in the testing field and the prospects this buzzing technology presents, let’s first understand what is RPA.

RPA is a new-age division in the automation field that deals with software robots mimicking human actions to perform a sequence of measures to complete a given process. In more ways than one, RPA can be compared to industrial automation done with robots.

Like how robots in a factory work on iterative, bulk processes, RPA bots do the same but for software jobs. This could include bulk data entry, running of email campaigns, generation of invoices or any one of the millions of iterative tasks that are necessary in the current IT world.

This technology is a powerhouse which is evident by McKinsey and Company’s estimate that RPA’s impact on the global economy will be as high as $6.7 trillion by 2025. This analysis is based on the automation technology’s awesome ability to challenge the output of 110 million to 140 million full-time equivalents.

RPA for Testing Professionals

While RPA is a profile that any IT professional can get into, if you’ve been paying attention to the industry trends you might be aware that it is ideal for testing professionals. In fact, more than 70 percent of job postings in the RPA field, currently, require a good deal of experience in testing, automation or otherwise.

But, why is this?

If you didn’t know already, RPA tools can be coupled with testing tools to enhance testing.

Google Trends Graph Depicting Test Automation vs RPA

RPA bots can be taught how to initiate and execute test cases over tools like Selenium. This reduces a professional’s efforts in end-to-end testing. It also makes the overall system more efficient and less prone to human error.

To top it off, RPA bots can be trained at an early stage of a testing cycle and reused with slight tweaks in different projects. These bots can also extract raw data and information and deliver this to the target code from the front and back-ends without making any significant changes to the existing infrastructure.

Using RPA has the following advantages:

  1. The system has zero downtime
  2. The system is faster, more accurate, more efficient, and saves a lot of time
  3. The process is automated, so testing professionals can devote this time on other projects or on creating other bots which in turn increases employee productivity
  4. There is zero room for error
  5. The system is consistent
  6. Improved analytics are obtained as everything is logged
  7. The overall paucity of the process is reduced
  8. RPA offers cost effective solutions

This covers the demand for testing professionals skilled with RPA in the testing profile. But, what about other areas?

While testing might cover about 30 percent of the profiles for RPA job openings, the remaining are in other fields. Let’s now understand why a testing professional is ideal for any job in RPA, not just testing.

If you have seen any of the RPA tools like UiPath, BluePrism or Automation Anywhere in action, you will know that each of them has a good deal of similarities to automation testing tools like Selenium. Moreover, if you are proficient with automation testing, working on RPA will not be a challenging task for you.

Add on the advantages RPA brings to the table, companies can save a lot in terms of investment and time. Because of this, most companies are currently hiring testing professionals skilled with RPA tools. The pros of RPA that we discussed earlier are not just limited to the testing field, they are applicable in any field to which RPA is applied.

So, as we have seen, adding RPA as a skill will not just help testing professionals progress in their testing career, it will also open the door to new career opportunities. RPA is currently in demand in several different technology fields. These include software development, BPOs and KPOs, government organizations etc. Companies hiring for RPA professionals include Microsoft, HP, IBM, TCS, Dell and hundreds more.

According to Gartner, the demand for RPA is growing rapidly, roughly 20 to 30 percent every quarter. So, what are you waiting for? Add an RPA tool to your resume and get into a role that is going to be in trend for at least the next couple of decades.