In the era of popular Robotic Process Automation technology and the demand for RPA developers’ competences, many programmers are considering a career as an RPA developer. Today, thanks to intuitive automation software, representatives of the business sector who want to improve processes at their company can also start their adventure with RPA tools. Where to start? It’s worth familiarizing oneself with the RPA environments. One of the most commonly used RPA tools is Blue Prism – let’s take a look inside to learn about the basics and its capabilities.

Robotic Process Automation – RPA for everyone?

The idea behind RPA environments is as follows: even a user with limited technical and programming knowledge should be able to automate processes. The following skills will be useful in the robotization of processes:

  • analytical thinking,
  • business experience, knowledge of the processes,
  • knowledge of business process modeling or the basics of business analysis may be helpful,
  • the basics of programming (e.g. C#, .NET) and knowledge of VBA, HTML, and CSS will certainly make it easier for a start.

What is Blue Prism?

Blue Prism is comprehensive, integrated RPA software for automating selected business processes. It enables the creation of software robots that take over repetitive, tedious manual tasks, e.g. in back-office departments. Blue Prism is built on the Microsoft .NET Framework and enables the automation of any application built on all kinds of platforms (mainframe, Windows, WPF, Java, web, etc.). The tool provider is one of the leaders in the Gartner rankings. Other popular RPA tools include UI Path, Automation Anywhere and PEGA. Today I will focus on Blue Prism, which I use as an RPA developer at JCommerce.

 

Blue Prism Environment – the basics

The Blue Prism work environment is divided into two main parts: the process layer and the objects layer. Working with the solution includes designing logic with the use of components that resemble flowcharts used in business processes modelling. Block elements are equivalents of programming structure elements, such as variables of various data types, logical “if” constructions or arrays, which are represented by collections, as well as loops (interactions) used for joining (e.g. individual elements of a collection).

RPA Blue Prism

Blue Prism has also a Calculation Stage element for performing and implementing calculations using built-in functions.

RPA Blue Prism

The environment handles exceptions in case of unforeseen errors in the application, calculation errors, etc.

Automatyzacja procesów z Blue Prism

Process layer

The process layer is responsible for storing business logic. On the main page of the project, you can create an overview (high level) of the individual steps in the process.

Blue Prism - automatyzacja procesów RPA

The steps in the process, such as launching the application, downloading data, data calculation, etc., are divided into subpages, which are the equivalent of functions or procedures. Similarly to functions, a subpage can have input parameters and return data.

Blue Prism Data Processing

Interaction with particular elements of the application takes place with the use of objects and actions defined therein.

Object layer

The objects in Blue Prism are not the equivalent of objects from object-oriented programming languages.

One object is dedicated to a single application or function. For example, if we want to automate a web application, we create an object dedicated to it with a set of actions used to interact only with that particular application. Launching an application, clicking on a button or reading text from a text field – all these can be actions.

Blue Prism has a ready-made set of objects for the most commonly used applications, such as Excel, Outlook, or operations such as string manipulations, collection manipulations, etc.

Środowisko Blue Prism

To interact with the application, you need to map its elements. They are stored in the Application Modeller tool:

Application Modeller Blue Prism

Blue Prism has a number of mapping modes (spy modes) that allow you to interact with almost any application.

Spy mode Blue Prism

If we need additional functionalities that Blue Prism does not have, we can add them using Code Stage – small pieces of code that are also implemented in objects. The Blue Prism environment supports coding in C# and VB.NET. In this case, basic programming knowledge is needed.

Kod Blue Prism

Kod Blue Prism

Data processing

In order for the input data to be processed, it must be stored somewhere – Blue Prism has a queue structure for this purpose. Queued data is stored in the so-called items. For example, an invoice number, a sales order number, etc. can be an item. Each item, depending on its processing stage, has a different status.

  • Pending – if the item is to be processed,
  • Completed – if it has been processed,
  • Exception – if a business or system exception occurred during processing.Queue Blue Prism

    Robot deployment

    Once the development stage is completed, the time comes for release, meaning the transfer (export) of all necessary components allowing the robot to operate from the development environment to production. A separate component, the Release Manager, is used to create releases in the Blue Prism environment. The release is placed in the production environment and run on virtual machines (VDI).

Procesy Blue Prism

Blue Prism – certification for RPA developers

Blue Prism certyfikaty dla RPA developera

Blue Prism offers various training and certification paths depending on the specialization. For developers, having the following certificates will be valuable:

  • BluePrism Developer
  • BluePrism Professional Developer

Summary

Nowadays RPA solutions are used not only by global organizations from the “Fortune 500” rankings but also by all those companies that want to improve processes and unburden employees from carrying out repetitive tasks. RPA tools such as Blue Prism have a low entry threshold, and the business logic designed in them can also be presented to business representatives. Does it really mean that anyone can automate processes? It is definitely worthwhile so that as many programmers as possible become interested in the RPA developer career and the opportunities offered by this dynamically developing technological trend.

The support of RPA specialists in the organization not only means development services, but also maintenance and the adaptation of the robot to any changes in the production environment.

Read more on this in the interview: Robotics Process Automation: what is the secret behind its popularity?  

Author:
RPA Developer

RPA Developer at JCommerce. He is keen on struggling with complex automations, trying at the same time to use knowledge from multiple IT fields. Apart from robotics, enhusiast of .NET programming. Privately a fan of cycling, in particular cycling tourism.

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    - I have the right to access the content of my data, including to receive copies of it and correct it, delete it and limit the processing of it, as well as the right to transfer it, the right to object to the processing of it, and the right to withdraw my consent at any time. However, the withdrawal of my consent shall not affect the lawfulness of processing carried out on the basis of the consent in question prior to its withdrawal;
    - A statement of withdrawal of my consent to the processing of personal data should be submitted to the headquarters of JCommerce Sp. z o.o. or sent to the following e-mail address: zgody@jcommerce.pl. The withdrawal of consent to the processing of personal data shall result in the inability to fulfil the aforementioned processing purposes;
    - The personal data provided shall be shared by JCommerce Sp. z o.o. with the company’s authorised employees and individuals collaborating with JC under civil-law contracts, who are involved in the implementation of the purpose of the processing;
    - The data provided shall be processed on the basis of the relevant provisions of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation), ‘GDPR’;
    - Should you have any questions regarding the protection of your personal data, please contact us by e-mail: odo@jcommerce.pl;
    - The personal data provided shall be processed for the purpose for which it was supplied, or until I express my objection in this regard. In the event of filing an objection, JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall no longer process my personal data for the aforementioned purposes, unless it can demonstrate that there are valid and legally justified grounds overriding my interests, rights and freedoms or my data is necessary to establish, pursue or defend a claim, if any;
    - I have the right to file a complaint to the supervisory authority if I consider that the processing of the aforementioned personal data violates the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation of 27 April 2016.
    I hereby agree that JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as my name, surname, e-mail address, telephone number and company name, for commercial purposes.
    I hereby agree that JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as my name, surname, e-mail address, telephone number and company name, for marketing purposes.
    I hereby agree that JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as my name, surname, e-mail address, telephone number and company name, for recruitment purposes.
    I hereby agree that JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as my name, surname, e-mail address, telephone number and company name, for future recruitment purposes.
    I have been informed by JCommerce Sp. z o.o., 3 Ks. Piotra Sciegiennego St. 40-114 Katowice – the personal data controller – that: - The provision of the aforementioned personal data is voluntary but essential for commercial purposes if I have chosen a request for proposal, or recruitment purposes, if I have chosen the remaining options;
    - I have the right to access the content of my data, including to receive copies of it and correct it, delete it and limit the processing of it, as well as the right to transfer it, the right to object to the processing of it, and the right to withdraw my consent at any time. However, the withdrawal of my consent shall not affect the lawfulness of processing carried out on the basis of the consent in question prior to its withdrawal;
    - A statement of withdrawal of my consent to the processing of personal data should be submitted to the headquarters of JCommerce Sp. z o.o. or sent to the following e-mail address: zgody@jcommerce.pl. The withdrawal of consent to the processing of personal data shall result in the inability to fulfil the aforementioned processing purposes;
    - The personal data provided shall be shared by JCommerce Sp. z o.o. with the company’s authorised employees and individuals collaborating with JC under civil-law contracts, who are involved in the implementation of the purpose of the processing;
    - The data provided shall be processed on the basis of the relevant provisions of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation), ‘GDPR’;
    - Should you have any questions regarding the protection of your personal data, please contact us by e-mail: odo@jcommerce.pl;
    - The personal data provided shall be processed for the purpose for which it was supplied, or until I express my objection in this regard. In the event of filing an objection, JCommerce Sp. z o.o. shall no longer process my personal data for the aforementioned purposes, unless it can demonstrate that there are valid and legally justified grounds overriding my interests, rights and freedoms or my data is necessary to establish, pursue or defend a claim, if any;
    - I have the right to file a complaint to the supervisory authority if I consider that the processing of the aforementioned personal data violates the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation of 27 April 2016.