The Challenge to Automate Oracle EBS with RPA
Introduction: What is RPA?
In today’s world of digital advancements, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is becoming one of the most sought-after solutions to help solve business process shortcomings and enhance organizational productivity, efficiency, and stability. With RPA, companies can provide operational excellence, a key component in building a successful business.
Robotic Process Automation works by allowing employees to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing business flows from legacy back-office applications through a recording feature. These bots accurately mimic user actions, such as sending or reading emails, copying and pasting data between applications, and performing data validation. RPA bots then execute these manual, repetitive tasks by playing back the automation for pre-recorded flows. Automations are based on set rules, and they seamlessly integrate with one’s existing applications.
Why is RPA such a popular trend in business today?
The automation revolution is making a significant impression on businesses all over the world. Many industries are rapidly adopting RPA (including manufacturing, healthcare, retail, financial services, transportation services, customer service, IT), proving that it is the trending technology with unparalleled benefits. It has been globally recognized that automation solutions create higher rates of service quality, reduce data entry errors, provide greater flexibility, and most importantly, lend themselves to greater speed and scalability. With its end goal to mimic human tasks as closely as possible, Robotic Process Automation can take care of mundane, repetitive tasks and processes. Thus, allowing employees to work on higher-level tasks and goals to help increase company productivity and revenue.
Realizing the Benefits of RPA
The benefits of RPA are endless. Its domino effect on business operations and outcomes is immeasurable and for good reasons. It enables cost-savings and fast ROI; it allows for greater productivity and more accuracy; it’s scalable, and it provides better customer experiences and satisfaction — among many more advantages. Moreover, RPA improves business outcomes by accelerating workflows, thereby freeing up time for employees to work on higher-level tasks. This shift not only eliminates wasted hours spent on manual, administrative, time-consuming tasks but also improves data quality, productivity, and employee morale. People don’t want to feel like human robots, which frees them up to contribute in more meaningful and advanced ways.
Meanwhile, companies benefit greatly, as RPA bots work around the clock, 24/7, and ensure 100% reliability, speed, and precision. RPA bots are intuitive, and therefore, they are easy to install, use, and configure. It’s as easy as showing your bots what to do and letting them do the work for you.
RPA proves most beneficial on complex data entry applications, such as Oracle EBS and those custom systems developed using Oracle Forms. Many organizations worldwide currently use these applications as their mission-critical, back-office systems, having based their entire day-to-day operations around them. These organizations are now struggling to find an enterprise-level RPA solution to automate the processes trapped in their Oracle applications and enjoy the cost savings, increased flexibility, and improved accuracy of the data entry processes achieved with RPA.
Why does Oracle Forms/EBS need a specialized solution for RPA?
While there are many RPA solutions available, these tools are not made with the complexities and unique sensitivities of Oracle applications in mind. Oracle Forms technology is built differently than other technologies out there today, and as a result, has different needs in order to automate smoothly. Traditional RPA tools may bring significant ROI when automating other applications. Still, Oracle Forms/EBS users will often experience errors, complications, and failures in their automations — ultimately preventing these companies from achieving the results and ROI they’re after.
Users automating Oracle legacy systems with traditional RPA tools have reported significant complications. Such users have discovered that any UI changes — even the slight movement of a button location — will prevent traditional RPA tools from finding the necessary button, causing the automations to fail. This is of great concern as UI changes can occur quite frequently, whether due to a developer’s changes or as the result of routine upgrades and patches. Consequently, each of these slight UI changes will disrupt the automation’s ability to playback the recorded flow and will require that new flows be recorded every time a change occurs. Additional complications include slowed speed, timeout errors, and constant failures due to pop-up and error messages. Other drawbacks include the inability to run concurrent flows, which can become challenging and expensive if a company is looking to automate multiple business processes in parallel. Doing so will require investing, installing, and maintaining a new server for each dedicated process, plus having an orchestrator to manage them all. In addition to all the technical complications that can arise in production, Oracle Forms/EBS users have also found that it can be a long and expensive process to develop certain customized Forms components, such as tabbed canvases. What quickly becomes clear is that Oracle legacy systems require something different from other applications to ensure smooth and stable automations and achieve ROI.
One example of this was seen in our work with Worthington Industries, a large manufacturing company in the United States. After automating several business flows with a leading RPA vendor, they soon encountered instability and failures, specifically with their Oracle system’s automations. After such a significant investment in their RPA strategy, it led to unstable and unreliable bots, ultimately keeping them from seeing any ROI from their Oracle automation journey.
While looking for a solution, they found AuraPlayer, a patented modernization and automation solution made specifically with Oracle Forms/EBS in mind. They discovered that AuraPlayer is tailor-made for the complexities and sensitivities of Oracle legacy applications. Unlike traditional tools using screen scraping, AuraPlayer’s RPA solution does not rely on the UI layer at all and instead works by deeply analyzing the Forms UI components, Web UI components, and at the Forms protocol level. By not using the UI, AuraRPA could help alleviate Worthington’s struggles, as its automations are not affected by UI changes, upgrades, patches, or pop-ups. Moreover, AuraPlayer’s specialized tool allows for increased speed, performance, and scalability, as it can run hundreds of concurrent flows on a single server. Since AuraRPA can be used independently or integrated with other tools as a plug-in, Worthington was able to integrate AuraPlayer’s RPA solution as a plug-in to their existing RPA orchestrator specifically to automate their Oracle applications, thereby bringing immediate value and ROI. Using this specialized Oracle RPA tool saved them 200 hours in development time and continues to save them 75 hours of data entry a month.
It is becoming clear that RPA is the key to helping businesses gain and keep momentum, especially as they attempt to adjust to the “new normal” following the pandemic. The global RPA market size is steadily growing, already reaching $1.89 billion in 2021 and expected to rise to $13.74 billion by 2028. Ultimately, the benefits and ROI will almost certainly exceed the costs of deploying RPA. But as we have seen, users of Oracle legacy systems must first ensure that their RPA solution is truly compatible with their system’s needs and complexities. When done right — with an RPA tool that protects and works efficiently with your Oracle applications — there is no doubt that automation can help take your business to the next level.
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As always, if you have any comments or questions, we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to get in touch.
AuraPlayer is a unique, patented technology that automatically generates mobile applications and automations from existing back-office desktop applications, allowing customers to begin their digital transformations while leveraging existing investments. AuraPlayer eliminates the need for system integrators or rigid packaged solutions. The technology brings a new level of agility to legacy systems, with their low-risk, flexible, affordable, and automated solutions without redevelopment.