Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to the use of software robots, or "bots," that mimic human actions to automate repetitive tasks within business processes. RPA technology can interact with applications, systems, and data sources to automate procurement tasks such as data entry, document processing, and report generation. Using robotic process automation in procurement increases efficiency, accuracy, and productivity, freeing up human workers to focus on more complex and value-added activities.
RPA works effectively even without an API or web services because it operates at the user interface (UI) level. RPA tools are designed to interact with applications and systems in the same way a human user would. Bots can navigate through applications, extract data from screens, input information, and perform various actions by mimicking mouse clicks, keystrokes, and screen scraping techniques.
This UI-level automation allows RPA to work with legacy systems, custom-built applications, or systems that lack well-defined APIs or web services—which is why RPA is so useful in procurement, where legacy systems are prevalent. RPA software robots can read and interpret data from user interfaces (even legacy green screens), extract relevant information, and manipulate it as needed. They can also integrate with different software applications by emulating user interactions, such as opening applications, logging in, and navigating through menus.
RPA is useful in government procurement where legacy systems are prevalent.
While having APIs or web services can simplify integration and enable more direct communication between systems, RPA offers a flexible and versatile solution for automating procurement processes across a wide range of applications and systems, regardless of the underlying technology or infrastructure.
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Many large government repositories—like the GSA schedule library or the SBA repository of vendor information—are examples of agency systems that have not yet undergone modernization.
Currently, contracting teams need to manually search and enter unique identifiers to find a schedule or vendor. Robotic process automation could make this process much easier by deploying a bot to pull information automatically. Using the GSA Schedule repository as an example, here's a general outline of how RPA can help you achieve this:
In the Appian Platform, RPA is built into the stack and can kick off from anywhere. The actions take place automatically, invisible to the user.
RPA and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used together to enhance automation capabilities and enable more intelligent and advanced automation solutions. By leveraging AI techniques such as natural language processing (NLP) to extract information from unstructured data sources like documents, emails, or web pages, AI algorithms can help bots interpret and “understand” the content, allowing them to extract specific data points more accurately.
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RPA can collect and process data from various sources, while AI enables advanced analytics and insight generation. By combining the two, organizations can automate data collection, perform data analysis, and generate actionable insights for decision making and process improvement.
By automating a broader range of tasks, organizations will improve contract management, make more intelligent decisions, extract valuable insights from data, and achieve cost savings.
Appian Government Acquisition solutions use a variety of automation tools, including RPA and AI, to streamline your procurement process.