Robotic Desktop Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation: Which Is Right for Your Company?

RPA is more prevalent than RDA, but use depends on company-specific tasks.

September 30, 2021

5 Min Read

By Andrei Cretoi


Andrei Cretoi

Regardless of their technological approach, companies now strive to improve customer experience and retention rates. Meeting that goal can be helped with robotic process automation to eliminate tedious tasks, freeing corporate workers to focus on higher-value work. The main difference between robotic process automation (RPA) and robotic desktop automation (RDA) can be explained best based on the scope of each process.

In this article, we will explore the key differences between desktop automation versus robotic process automation.

Robotic Desktop Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation

Desktop robotic automation (RDA) is excellent for organizations that are just starting out automating their business processes. Desktop automation is scaled down to a single user. It assists people with tedious tasks during their daily activities. For example, it can scrape data, automate Excel processes, transfer files or generate reports.

It can also be used to automate desktop applications: regularly checking a website for updates or pulling reports and sending them via email to the correct recipient. In case there’s an unfamiliar situation, the software can return control to its human partner. We’re talking about automation tools such as WinTask, UiPath, HelpSystems and others.

Here are a few more examples of how humans and software robots can work together when developing a sales proposal:

  • The software bot will pull data from different sources, such as CRM systems, and assemble them for approval.

  • Employees can write a proposal while using the bot to automate other tasks, enhancing general productivity.

RDA suits best for workflows that can’t be completely automated but can benefit from automating particular processes. On the other hand, RPA is excellent for workflows requiring no human supervision or where such supervision isn’t possible.

Robotic process automation (RPA) can be installed on a server, cloud instance or virtual machine and works with the entire company’s applications. People with different permissions can work together in the same process. For example, processing invoices seems like an excellent fit for RPA.

However, each invoice is processed with numerous steps. It might retrieve an attachment from an email, categorize the attachment as an invoice and route the invoice for approval — RPA can handle all of these. In another example, RPA bots can run overnight to update data and migrate it at a time when everyone’s asleep. RPA can function almost independently.

If one looks up Google Trends, it’s pretty clear that RPA is in more prevalent use than RDA. However, it always comes down to each organisation’s needs as to which solution works best for them. Whether desktop automation (RDA) or robotic process automation (RPA) is the right choice will depend on each use case, which is unique.

Using RDA can be great as a first step in adopting automation. Employees will be able to see the benefits of bots and make sure the bots can handle …

… the tasks they are assigned.

Key Features of RDA and RPA

Let’s go through RDA key features first.

  • Customer experience enhancement. RDA helps employees to provide exceptional customer experience, as bots complete tasks quickly with no errors.

  • Business compliance. RDA tools are 100% compliant with business rules.

  • Manages multiple records. RDA tools can go through various documents quickly to deliver outstanding results.

  • Visual workflows. Most RDA’s have workflow design tools that help users to understand the process in general.

  • Drag-and-drop. Another key feature is the drag-and-drop solution that makes it easy to build workflows.

  • Wizards. Wizards guide users through specific workflow steps and record users’ actions, extraction of texts and web service data exchanges, which users commonly face.

Moving on to RPA key features, let’s start with the crucial ones.

  • No-code solution. RPA tools allow people to automate business workflows simply by forming flowcharts. No knowledge of programming is needed.

  • Security. RPA has introduced role-based permissions. Thus it’s safe for all parties to operate within a significant process.

  • Dynamic adjustments. RPA adjusts itself dynamically in a running process.

  • Maximum resource utilization. Humans often have tasks that aren’t interesting to them, so they get bored. RPA is assigned those boring functions, which it can end in a suitable time.

  • Cost reduction. RPA can reduce the scope of human hiring, lowering a businesses’ costs.

If we take a closer look at companies’ expectations, most of them need to improve the effectiveness of the most commonly known business processes to get a fast ROI. It’s unlikely that a company will need to automate all their business processes, or even 80% of those processes. Most companies will need to automate around 40% of the time-consuming day-to-day operations, and RDA works best for that matter.

Needless to say, implementing RDA will cost less sometimes and can be done faster than trying to implement RPA with dozens of features that might not be needed. Eventually, a company will choose a pragmatic, results-driven approach, guided by the needs expressed by its business and will focus on general efficiency, regardless of the technology mix and the human or artificial intelligence involved. Sometimes it is enough to automate 60% of a process and leave the remaining 40% to a human to obtain ROI within a few months.

Summing up, we consider RDA a separate stand-alone piece of software that has proved itself a dependable assistant in removing routine tasks and making room for people to focus on more essential and rewarding tasks.

Marian Andrei Cretoi is an IT product manager and business automation analyst with WinTask. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @WinTaskCo on Twitter.

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