The importance of RPA testing in Logistics and Supply Chain

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As per the latest Gartner forecast, global Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, which is 19.5% higher than in 2020.  

Fabrizio Biscotti, Research Vice President at Gartner, says, “The key driver for RPA projects is their ability to improve process quality, speed, and productivity, each of which is increasingly important as organizations try to meet the demands of cost reduction during COVID-19. Enterprises can quickly make headway on their digital optimization initiatives by investing in RPA software, and the trend isn’t going away anytime soon.”  

RPA or Robotic Process Automation has now evolved from non-intuitive software bots used for iterative processes to smart and cognitive automation bots that improve efficiency and productivity.  

In an increasingly digital world, RPA bots are turning out to be the key components that take care of the groundwork so that the human workforce can address the high-level needs.  

It is not feasible to have a completely digital, automated world, whereas end-to-end manual processes are time-consuming and prone to errors.  

Therefore, a mix of manual and automation with the help of RPA bot deployment is an ideal model for achieving the desired outcomes, especially in an industry like Logistics and Supply Chain. 

Logistics and Supply Chain Management involves highly complex processes, which are traditionally carried out manually.  

Being labor-intensive and time-consuming, the processes themselves become a major roadblock to achieving operational scalability.  

RPA, as an enabler of a digital logistics and supply chain network, can bring along the benefits of greater accuracy, productivity, and scalability.  

The main areas in the Logistics and Supply Chain management that RPA can augment are 

Inventory Management: As one of the most crucial aspects of a seamless digital supply chain network, inventory management demands the involvement of a high number of resources and time. Maintenance of the right levels of inventory, keeping a track of the changing market demand, and stocking the inventory at the best prices are some of the tedious activities involved in inventory management that RPA can automate.  

Freight Management: Freight management involves keeping a real-time track of a freight from the origin till the point of destination, across the entire network consisting of various modes of transportation and checkpoints. All the processes between all the involved parties of carriers, distributors, vendors, and shippers need to be coordinated for an unobstructed and timely preparation, shipping, storage, and receival of freight. Automation of freight management enables real-time tracking and coordination throughout the freight network, while reducing the risk of gaps and anomalies.  

Invoice Management: Any supply chain and logistics companies deal with a large number of shipments on a daily basis. This also requires preparation, printing, and inclusion of respective invoices along with the concerned shipments. The extensive amount of data entry, integration, and validation in invoice management necessitate high precision and accuracy, as incorrect invoicing may hinder processing of a shipment.  

Evidently, implementation of RPA in logistics and supply chain can result in increased operational efficiency, productivity, and scalability.  

However, as the processes are highly complex, traditional RPA is not capable of handling them alone and requires involvement of manual resources.  

The manual-automation model is better than all-manual processes, but the industry needs something smarter and cognitive.  

This is where next-gen Robotic Process Automation aka hyperautomation comes in.  

Next-gen Robotic Process Automation for Logistics and Supply Chain 

By leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP), RPA becomes intelligent and capable of taking care of even complex processes without any manual intervention.  

According to UiPath, “Hyperautomation validates automation but elevates it to show how the combination of RPA and disruptive technologies such as AI, ML, process mining, decision management, and NLP, and more can be used together in an end-to-end automation solution. Hyperautomation will continually use new tools and technologies, touch even more employees, and accelerate the automation of the next generation of business processes.” 

RPA bots that leverage these next-gen technologies offer higher automation coverage than those that do not. Some of these technologies are:  

  • Artificial Intelligence: Simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. 
  • Machine Learning: Smart computing of complex business logic and rules.  
  • OCRs and ICRs: Intelligent data capture to enable ease of automation of complex data structures and formats.  
  • Predictive Dashboard: Custom algorithms with accurate predictions on BOTS output.  
  • Process Mining: Turns event data into insights and actions. 
  • RPA Framework: Home-grown framework with utilities and scheduling mechanism for extended automation coverage.  
  • Natural Language Processing: Conversion of speech and voice tags into texts and actions.  
  • Decision Management: Necessitates all facets of designing, building and managing the automated decision-making systems that an enterprise practices to manage its interactions with teams, traders, and clienteles. 

While it is evident that the next gen RPA has a larger role to play in logistics and supply chain, it is imperative to understand the need of RPA testing in this sector. 

Why perform RPA testing? 

In the context of executing big scale standard systems such as Salesforce, SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics 365, the business automation tools such as RPA, provides a novel and influential tool for testers and business users doing testing. 

According to Jesper Ottosen, in an article published on Ministry of Testing, says, ”While there are other power tools for web and API testing, the RPA tools are a class of their own, as RPA tools allow for codeless automation macros on the desktop. RPA tools can do some very handy things. They can be used for both test data and regression testing.” 

With the help of an RPA Center of Excellence, logistics and supply chain organizations can:  

  • Achieve comprehensive assessment to identify appropriate business processes for RPA  
  • Categorize & prioritize the processes based on the complexity, automatability, ROI etc. using in-house utilities to build score cards  
  • Get an outcome driven RPA strategy and the “Right fit tool” for RPA automation  
  • Implement next gen techniques in BOT design – AI/ML, OCRs/ICRs, NLP, Deep Learning design principles, reusability, modularity etc. for effective script development  
  • Make processes efficient to manage changes post deployment  
  • Report defect and perform an effective RCA to contain defects  
  • Build a robust and efficient regression test suite for BOT maintenance and support  

While digital transformation is playing an imperative role in logistics and digital supply chain management and changing the way businesses deliver products, conduct operations, and fulfill orders, what if you could expedite your organization’s entire supply chain process and cut costs, all without making a major IT investment or hiring new staff? 

The swiftly enhancing technology of RPA ensures this outcome – and more. 

To sum up 

Test automation services for RPA helps enterprises in these industries improve cycle time & productivity in transaction processing and elevate AI & ML capabilities to handle high-volume, mundane tasks, faster and better.  

Cigniti’s experts collaborate with your team to identify the best RPA candidates based on the process characteristics & define the RPA governance framework for the engagement. We provide a proven desktop analytics and process assessment covering the automation activities & existing documents in place. Our experts help define RPA metrics, measures, benchmarks, and baselines and suggest any changes required, define the process validation checklist & the automation type, and also define & develop a comprehensive BOT framework.  

Connect with our RPA experts to understand how we can help your organization achieve the desired benefits with RPA implementation and also know more on the importance of RPA testing in logistics and supply chain. 

Author

  • Cigniti is a Global Leader in Independent Quality Engineering & Software Testing Services with offices in US, UK, India, Australia, and Canada.

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