By David Brain
Exceptions (or errors) are unexpected events that occur during the operation of an automation. Amid a deployed RPA solution, they can halt or slow down processes. They are bound to happen with any complex automation. To minimize the effects of exceptions, RPA tools provide functionality to handle them with grace. When implemented at the enterprise level, RPA solutions can protect themselves from failure by steering clear of problematic interactions. This blog will cover the various tactics your business can use to effectively deal with exceptions.
When a process encounters an exception, there may be instances when the best course of action is to shut it down and report it. Processes that are left alone to attempt task completion with faulty inputs or components can lead to unnecessary wastage or compromised data. RPA tools utilize failure configuration to customize how a process deals with exceptions. Here, one would configure the automation to prevent the continuation undesired actions, aiming instead for a safe exit of the process.
Enterprise-level failure configurations include specialized notifications to ensure that RPA administrators are aware of the error. They provide the functionality to enable the process to either log or capture relevant information about an error. This could include a screen shot or other diagnostic information depending on what is appropriate for your process.
Administrators can then be alerted to what sort of exception was thrown and where in the automation it happened. Equipped with the details, they can exercise discretion on whether to perform maintenance to fix any glaring issues, or to continue the automation. Additionally, there are options to maintain the flow of the automation by setting a different task to be run upon receiving an exception.
Sometimes it might be necessary to continue specific processes despite encountering an exception. In these cases, failure configuration needs to be complemented with restart configuration. Restart configuration aims to get an automation back on track when an error is caught. RPA tools use different systems to initiate restarts, including general exceptions and try-catch components.
Symphony has found that general exceptions tend to be more versatile because they encompass the entire scope of the automation. Try-catch components must be built for specific groups of actions. Either way, with a comprehensive restart configuration in place, a process can be restarted without delay upon an exception.
One instance in which restart configuration should be used is when an automated application is not as reliable as desired -- if something were to go wrong and a human user was utilizing the system, they would just re-start it without informing IT of an issue. The same behavior can be mimicked within a process with the addition of informing IT if required.
Realistically, exceptions will occur. An RPA tool must provide the functionality to effectively tackle them, and developers should utilize these abilities to their fullest potential. A best practice is to build RPA solutions with the expectation of encountering unforeseen errors. It is essential to prepare your processes to ‘safely’ deal with failures when relying on an automated workforce. Notifications can alert administrators to any pressing errors. Processes can be configured to deal with failure according to protocol, whether it is through shutdown, continuation, or a restart. When resiliency measures are implemented properly, your automation (and business) will be better prepared for any bumps in the road. To learn more, refer to other parts of our RPA Technical Insights blog series.
This is part 13 of a 22 part blog series by the leading experts at Symphony Ventures. It addresses how to choose the right RPA tools for your business needs. Drawing from our global team’s extensive knowledge in automation consulting, implementation, and managed services across a range of diverse industries, we’ve drilled into the technical criteria to consider when selecting which RPA software best enables your company’s digital operation strategy. Read part 12, Customizing Your RPA Solution Through Code Integration