Both attended and unattended RPA can play important roles in improving your workflows – learn how they differ with our quick guide
Just as automated processes can be categorised as process and cognitive automation, they can be further categorised as attended or unattended depending on how they are triggered and where they run from. But it isn’t always a case of ‘attended vs unattended RPA’.
Knowing the differences between them and when they should be used is the first step to exploring automation opportunities in your organisation.
What is attended RPA?
Attended bots run on a user’s workstation and are triggered by user actions. They automate small repetitive, tedious tasks to increase speed and efficiency and are sometimes known as personal assistant bots or virtual assistants. Attended bots are often simpler to create and implement and offer the potential to deliver rapid business value.
When should you use attended RPA?
Because attended RPA is activated by employees when it is needed, it can be applied to a variety of workplace tasks. This includes:
- Finance: Processing invoices
- Healthcare/Insurance: Claims processing and documentation
- HR: Employee onboarding
- Legal: Credential verification
- Retail: Inventory management
Advantages of attended RPA
- Increased staff efficiency
- Increased staff job satisfaction
- Minimal setup
- Rapid ROI
What is unattended RPA?
Unattended bots on the other hand run on servers behind the scenes with little or no human intervention. They’re built to be run on pre-determined schedules or workflow triggers and can be used to automate wider back-office functions and processes at scale. This often allows for wider business processes optimisation and efficiency gains. As a result, unattended processes can be more complex and costly to implement and maintain, but often have the potential for greater return on investment over the course of their life.
When should you use unattended RPA?
Because unattended RPA operates on a schedule (or when triggered in a workflow) it can be used to automate a range of back-office functions. This includes:
- Customer Support: Chatbots
- Finance: Document comparison (e.g. contract vs invoice paid)
- Finance/Legal/Healthcare: Managing sensitive information
- HR: Candidate screening
- IT: System monitoring
- All: Data cleanup
Advantages of unattended RPA
- Can be accessed remotely
- Reduces operating costs
- Uninterrupted automation for ‘always on’ industries (e.g. healthcare, telecommunications, finance)
- Larger potential ROI
Can attended and unattended RPA be used together?
Utilising RPA doesn’t have to be a case of choosing between attended and unattended automation. It’s important to recognise that both forms can be leveraged as part of your RPA strategy.
Attended automation increases the speed, efficiency and capabilities of desktop knowledge workers and unattended automation helps streamline and scale back office, enterprise functions and workflows.
Take time and consider the tasks and processes in your business that could be automated. Rather than thinking of it as a binary choice – attended vs unattended RPA – consider how they can be used together. Which workplace tasks lend themselves to attended automation, which back office processes are suitable for unattended automation, and when can a workflow utilise both?