RPA Technical Insights, Part 14: How Exception Handling Can Save Your Automation From Failure

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Exception handling is defined by the management of exceptions in unassisted automation. It ensures that problems can be automatically resolved if possible, or easily identifiable and repairable by system administrators or passed for human completion where appropriate. If left unhandled, exceptions could drastically impair RPA functionality. The success of exception handling depends on how well it is implemented during development. As a result, we encourage businesses to emphasize developing the proper exception handling components. This blog will provide advice on proper exception handling practices and outline the key features of RPA tools that assist in exception handling. For starters, there are two main forms of exceptions in the RPA world: Business Exceptions and System Exceptions.

What Are Business Exceptions?

We’ll have a look at business exceptions first. Business exceptions occur when established rules are broken. They tend to happen when data or inputs do not conform to business or application criteria. In other words, business exceptions are the implementation of business rules that exist within a process to be automated.  An example of which could be around making payments, if an encountered value is over a set amount, then approval needs to be gained from a line manager.

Business Exceptions can be used to represent the rules of a process that are being automated along with providing a level of control over your deployed processes (throttling or restricting the work cases they may process).   Processes that encounter business exceptions are typically re-routed for alternative processing by employees. This method allows a business to process high-volume work while maintaining operational accuracy.

What About System Exceptions?

System exceptions happen in purely technical situations. They involve system-based events like non-responding applications, application crashes or new screens / changes within an application that were not accounted for or captured during design and development.  System exceptions should be used to handle the unknown (scenarios we have no rules for), to ensure a case is always safely dealt with.

These exceptions are typically handled by cancelling the current case, flagging it with exception details, and moving on to the next one in the scheduled queue. System Exceptions can also be monitored to determine if it is safe to run a process.  An example of this may be that the target system has stopped working (determined by a number of failed attempts), rather than continuing to work cases it would be more appropriate to stop the process and highlight the error.


Despite the advantages that RPA software can bring to the table, achieving enterprise-level exception handling is not necessarily dependent on the type of RPA tool. Successful exception handling is contingent on having an established strategy set forth by the developers who work closely to adhere to an organization’s existing practices. Having established standards of managing exceptions is the key to a high-performing unassisted automation that operates safely and efficiently. If you have any questions about this, contact us at enquiries@symphonyhq.com. Learn more about robotic process automation by visiting our Technical Blog Series.

This is part 14 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 13, How to Defend Your RPA Workforce from Technical Failure.

Be sure not to miss part 15 of RPA Technical Insights, where we introduce the security chapter by discussing the importance of encryption.

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