HOW TO DECIDE WHICH RPA TOOL TO USE FOR YOUR COMPANY? – COMPARISON BETWEEN UIPATH AND MICROSOFT POWER AUTOMATE
Latest Research from CLPS Innovation Lab
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a hot topic in the IT industry today, with UiPath and Microsoft as the two major players in the market.
- UiPath is a veteran robotic process automation supplier, providing an end-to-end automation platform to help companies and organizations effectively implement automated business processes. UiPath has always ranked among the top in the annual RPA industry global analysis report in the recent years. It is reported that UiPath received the highest revenue in the vertical field of RPA last year.
- Microsoft Power Automate is an RPA tool owned by Microsoft. At the 2019 Microsoft Ignite Annual Conference, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Flow was renamed to Microsoft Power Automate, and added external connectors and AI functions on the basis of the original Flow to constructed RPA products overall. This year, Microsoft acquired Softmotive, one of the companies that initially involved in the RPA industry, to further enhance the RPA function of Power Automate.
Recently, CLPS Innovation Lab has thoroughly studied the two RPA products and conducted relevant verification practices and evaluations. This research analyzes and compare the two products in terms of product components, system architecture, process development, training and support, and licenses, among others.
The UiPath platform consists of three integrated components: UiPath Studio, UiPath Robot and Orchestrator.
- UiPath Studio: Process designer. Users can achieve low-code automation by observing customer work steps and using the rich activity library provided by UiPath after completing foundation training. Alternatively, by using the recorder to intuitively model the process automation without writing code.
- UiPath Robot: Process performer. It can run the workflow based on the rules agreed in advance. UiPath Robot has Attended Robot and Unattended Robot. Unattended robots can perform scheduled workflow in the background without human intervention. Third-party cognition and OCR technology can be embedded to process and close any local, old or Cloud applications, extract and pass data between structured and unstructured data sources such as applications, documents and databases .
- Orchestrator: It is a UiPath control room that needs to be built into a web server. It can help users set plans, monitor and manage Robot and various automated processes.
Power Automate is a SaaS-level multi-function workflow engine, combined with Microsoft CDS, data connectors, and AI Builder to build countless possibilities for workflow automation.
- Power Automate: Process designer. It provides the ability to automate processes from the background (API) and front-end (UI), breaking the data isolation among systems, applications, social platforms, and other services commonly used in daily work. Users can directly apply hundreds of officially provided process templates to their workflows or design from scratch.
- Data Connector: It can connect multiple external applications, share data services to solve the problem of data island, so that Power Automate can create automated workflows among multiple services.
- CDS: A brand new data service platform that based on SaaS model that Microsoft is trying to build, storing application data in a standardized Common Data Model.
- AI Builder: AI enabling tool in the workflow. It integrates several mature Microsoft AI algorithms and functions, such as keyword extraction, language detection, and text recognition. In theory, due to the native integration of AI Builder and CDS, as long as the data is located in the internal storage of CDS, it can be used by AI builder for modeling analysis and prediction.
2. System Structure
UiPath’s local version, including CS architecture, client + IIS Web server + SQL Server, Orchestrator, Studio and Robots are relatively independent.
Orchestrator is used to manage Studio, Robots, and the machine where Robot is located. It also helps to configure the processes to Robot and monitor the running status of the processes.
Studio is used to develop and debug the processes and publish the processes to Orchestrator through the HTTPS protocol.
Robot is used to execute processes and to connect to the Orchestrator through HTTPS protocol.
UiPath also provides certified end-to-end automated cloud platform and users can deploy Orchestrator to public or private clouds. Studio and Robots connect to the cloud platform via HTTPS protocol.
Power Automate is an online service for developing and debugging automated workflows, which is integrated in Microsoft’s Power Platform. The platform is rooted in the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud and is based on the Microsoft Azure. It seamlessly connects with cloud services such as CDS, AI, and DevOps. It also supports and expands Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365, among others. Automation between cloud and local data is achieved by building a custom data gateway.
3. Process Development
UiPath’s process is not subdivided like Power Automate. It can be roughly divided into “business process with human intervention” and “business process without human intervention”, which are processed step by step according to the agreed business rules until the expected business results are achieved. The unattended process can set the start time and repetition period based on the schedule. UI flow can be embedded in both processes.
The development of UiPath is driven by events, and each operation has an independent activity. For simple processes, based on the logic and rules of the process, simply drag and drop the required activities to accumulate. For components that need to be captured, select the action event first, and then capture the component. For complex processes, you need to write the code.
UiPath relies on the syntax of VB.net, and developers need to be familiar with related syntax and class libraries. In Studio, you can directly write and run VB code in the form of invoke code, or you can package the DLL file into a nupkg package and introduce it into the project. UiPath can be extended to support calling VBA, VBScript, Python, Power Shell, and more.
For complex processes, it is recommended to use the ReFramework officially provided by UiPath, which has strict log records and exception handling.
In terms of reusability, UiPath supports refining common processes into a Workflow for project invocation. It also supports the generation of reusable packages through custom Activity, and publishes reusable components as Library.
Power Automate provides five types of “Flow”:
- Automation flow: When a specific event is encountered, a specific process will be triggered to execute.
- Button flow: Also known as instant flow. The process will be started when the button on the mobile device is clicked.
- Schedule flow: Different tasks to be executed based on the schedule that is set in advance. The times of recurrences within a certain period can also be set.
- Business process: This workflow is just like the step guide that every user needs to follow, run step by step to achieve the expected business results.
- UI process: It records manual steps and plays automatically. It’s applicable to both modern and old applications.
Each “flow” is consists of a trigger and a series of standard operations. The trigger is a specific event in the process. Once the event occurs, the process starts. Power Automate presets multiple trigger events and a series of standard operations will be triggered after for more than 300 applications. The connectors that are not officially provided need to be customized. The daily simple workflow can be completed by dragging and dropping standard operations. For complex or large data processing business flows, other tools may be required. For example, when encountering a large amount of data processing in Excel, it will be slowed down and inconvenient to debug. The users still need a certain programming concept. For scripts written in other languages, there is currently no method that can be called directly.
Power Automate provides process templates for different work scenarios, which can be used directly after modification.
4. Training and Support
UiPath has built an official online training academy, which has a complete course system and video teaching, and provides complete online documentation and official forums.
- UiPath Academy: It is categorized by role, provides free UiPath online video courses, and allows users to easily master RPA concepts and UiPath development skills.
- UiPath GO!: One-stop shop for RPA. UiPath, developers, and others can develop and upload suitable automated process components for specific topics. UiPath users can download and use them for free as needed.
- UiPath Forum: the official community platform. UiPath users can ask questions, discuss solutions, get answers, and more, which makes it an active and useful platform. At the same time, UiPath appointed an official team to provide support to community users through the forum.
In addition, UiPath occasionally provides demonstrations and hands-on training on best practices.
Although Power Automate has official documents and forums, It does not have a complete course teaching system, unlike UiPath that can help users learn to use Power Automate from scratch. The training documents are also more suitable for IT individuals who are familiar with Microsoft product development. It is difficult for users who does not have a background with Microsoft products to get started.
The licenses of the three components of UiPath are charged annually.
Power Automate has two license plans:
- License by flow: Implement flows with reserved capacity that serve unlimited users across an organization. License is being charged per month.
- License by user: Allows individual user to create unlimited flows based on their unique needs. License is being charged per month/user.
6. Trial/Free Version
UiPath provides an unlimited community version and a 60-day enterprise trial version.
Power Automate provides a 90-day trial version, or can apply for a developer plan.
Both of the RPA tools have their advantages and are constantly being updated and improved.
UiPath aims to enable end business users to encode and automate their own processes. To encourage an easy learning curve, UiPath provides users suitable experience to learn step by step. The packaged activities are stacked based on the steps of the process. In addition, the interface is intuitive, making it easier for beginners to understand. However, as the process becomes more and more complicated, users without programming experience will find UiPath difficult to control, and developers will find it complicated. For large projects, multiple containers make it difficult to navigate a specific process. However, it must be emphasized that the utilization of UiPath in areas such as finance and HR where manual operations are complicated and with high repetition rate, its efficiency can indeed help enterprises save a lot of time and labor costs.
Microsoft Power Automate is a public cloud service that only requires a web browser and an email address, but it currently appears to be applicable only to the Azure cloud platform. Power Automate focuses on integration with Microsoft’s own business tools such as Office 365, Dynamics365, PowerApps, Power BI, and Teams, among others, and tools used in the organization such as Salesforce, Workday, among others), which requires a Microsoft account. Therefore, the existing training is more suitable for users who are familiar with Microsoft products and development. Power Automate is indeed a powerful tool. Its rich data connectors can build an automated workflow ecosystem for Microsoft RPA. With the power of Native AI and Azure big data analysis support, Microsoft RPA is smarter. Power Automate supports mobile devices. With a single touch on the smartphone, it triggers workflows, which greatly improves the work efficiency of enterprise employees.
Based on the in-depth research efforts and the characteristics of the above-mentioned RPA tools, CLPS Innovation Lab has collected several business scenarios that require manual repetitive operations and consume a lot of time from human resources, finance, administration, and other departments.
With the simplicity and combined with Microsoft products such as Office365 and OneDrive, CLPS Innovation Lab concludes that Microsoft’s Power Automate is a better choice for scenarios such as file backup, push notification after receiving an email, and automatic audit workflow, among others.
- As we have confirmed, Microsoft Power Automate can easily and automatically calculate weekly data of the recruitment department, automatically collects the health status of the employees, gathers real-time statistics and dynamic display during the epidemic situation.
For deployment of multiple processes which involve complex business logic or with large amount of data to process, UiPath is more suitable because of its development flexibility.
- For example, we have developed several processes including automated financial voucher input, automated attendance data and notification process, and automated addition and maintenance of fixed assets for admin department, among others
However, before selecting the most suitable RPA tools for automation, the enterprise should consider the need and situation, product positioning, process automation level, and other factors.
CLPS Innovation Lab has been consistently committed in RPA research for years. With its successful project experience and comprehensive knowledge, CLPS Innovation Lab has the capability to provide professional, comprehensive, safe, and reliable robotic process automation solutions to enable enterprises to start a new journey of digital transformation.