Automation is the name of the game these days if you want to improve productivity and increase performance across applications and users. That's exactly what Automation Anywhere allows you to do. It enables you to automate business processes using bots.
What does an Enterprise Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform mean for your business? Depending on the type and size of your business, it can help with everything from optimizing your labor investment and increasing capacity on demand to maximizing availability and improving employee morale.
For an example, read about the research by Goldsmiths, University of London, supported by Automation Anywhere: Can Automation Make Work More Human? Getting started with RPA is really simple. It follows three basic steps:
- Creating a process blueprint
- Building a bot
- Running a bot
We’re going to use Automation 360, a web-based application, to create a simple bot that waits for a file to be placed in a specific folder on a device, and then notifies a predefined email address that a new file is ready for review.
There are two elements to bot creation with Automation Anywhere Enterprise. You create bots in the web-based application through a browser. Then you deploy completed bots to a local machine that actually runs them.
First, you'll sign up for Automation Anywhere Community Edition, then register the the local computer that will run the Automation Anywhere Bot Agent used for executing the bots.
Next, you'll install the Automation Anywhere Bot Agent on that registered computer. Bot Agent is a lightweight application that runs on your computer. Because the computer is registered with Automation Anywhere Enterprise, bots can communicate with the Control Room, the element of Automation Anywhere automation software used to manage, monitor, and deploy bots. We'll walk through these steps in more detail throughout this tutorial.
Now let’s see how to create your first bot.
Getting set up
To sign up, head over to the Automation Anywhere Community Edition page. Once you’ve provided and verified the requested information, log in to your Automation Anywhere Community Edition dashboard. The next step is to register your device. Expand the DEVICES menu and click on My devices.
You’ll see an empty grid that will list your registered devices. Select the icon to the right of the grid to register your device.
This will initiate the download of the Automation Anywhere Bot Agent. When it completes, click on the installer to install the agent on your device. It’s always a good idea to install this Bot Agent as an administrator. After the installation is complete, the devices table should refresh under the My Devices menu and display your device in the list. If it doesn’t, click on the refresh icon to the upper-right of the table.
Next, enter the device credentials. In the top menu bar, click the device icon and fill in the credentials for the machine on which you installed the Bot Agent. The credentials provided here allow the Bot Agent to communicate with your machine as you begin to run and test your bot.
Don’t forget to save your changes.
Creating your first bot
It’s very tempting to dive right in and start creating your bot. Before you do that, however, it’s prudent to plan your automation. You can use the built-in Step Actions, or you can start simply by planning the flow of tasks on paper first. No matter which approach you choose, planning your automation is key to creating a successful bot with Automation 360. In the Getting started section of the Automation 360 dashboard, click on the Create a bot button.
A popup screen will be displayed, allowing you to give your bot a suitable name and an optional description. I called my bot "Gerald".
For this example, let's assume users upload specific expense files to a shared folder for processing by the credit controllers. Sometimes, the credit controllers miss a file to be processed, or process it late because they don’t check the shared folder often enough. You can use a bot to send a notification to a credit controller as soon as a new file has been placed in a review folder on the shared drive. This notifies the credit controller immediately to pick up and process this file. Once the bot has been given a name, click the Create & edit button.
You’ll be presented with a basic flow, divided into the three sections shown in the right pane of the image above. Triggers are events that activate your bot. Once your bot is triggered, it will start and perform one or more actions that you define. The Actions menu to the left lists several actions that you can expand to reveal more detailed action steps and events. I want my bot to be triggered when a file is placed in a specific folder on the client. Expand the Triggers section and look for Files & folders. Expand this section and drag a Folder trigger on to your Flow as in the image below.
Now, specify the folder the trigger needs to watch in the trigger properties screen to the right of your Flow. This is the shared folder to which users will copy their files. (Note that using relative paths, as opposed to absolute paths, is a good practice for building bots. To learn more about relative paths, see Enable bots to run on other computers in the Automation Anywhere Enterprise developer documentation.) In the Start the bot when… drop-down list, select file created.
When you’ve done this, click the Apply button. Your Flow is updated to display the selected folder:
Next, specify an action to perform when the bot is triggered. Expand the Actions section and look for Email. Expand this and drag a Send action on to your Flow.
Now, configure the Email: Send action in the properties window on the right of the Flow. Here you can specify the email address to send the notification to, along with a custom subject and message.
As you can see in the previous image, the Action is quite detailed and allows you to configure various settings for the Send action. When you’re done, click Apply to save your Send settings. You’re now ready to run your bot. At the top of your Flow, click the Run button and select Run with triggers.
Automation 360 does a quick deployment to the device, during which it packages up your bot and sends it to your registered machine.
The bot begins listening for incoming triggers. In this case, the trigger is when someone places a file in a specific folder on the client.
Drop a random file in the folder you designated earlier to see the bot jump into action.
The progress screen changes to show that the bot is running:
When the bot completes, you’ll receive a notification of success.
Almost immediately, an email is sent to the address you specified in the Email: Send Action.
You’ll see that it contains the text specified in the Email: Send Action.
What we accomplished
In this article, you created a very simple bot that waits for a file to be placed in a specific folder on the client. When the bot detects a new file, it notifies a predefined email address that a new file is ready for review. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s available with Automation 360. There are so many actions and triggers you can add and use in your automation projects. For a more detailed example of creating a bot, head to Automation Anywhere University (AAU) and enroll in the course "Hello A2019 Bot: Getting Started with Building Bots."