I watch a lot of stand-up comedy on YouTube and Netflix. (But who doesn’t?) Anyway, last weekend I was watching one of my favourite comedians riffing on old cooking shows (pre-MasterChef era); especially the fact that we only have the chef’s own testimony on how tasty the food really is. And I know you’re wondering what that has to do with learning RPA… so let me elaborate.
By no means do I question the quality of the chef’s cooking. But the joke got me thinking about how we tend to validate our own skill level by our own standard. There is subjective validation at play, i.e. we are each biased toward our own abilities. I should know; I am an excellent dancer.
But such a bias can be particularly dangerous when learning a new skill like Robotic Process Automation! Many companies across the world are adopting RPA into their digital workforce. As a result, all technical and even non-technical departments of every business are working with RPA robots in one way or another.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that soon “familiarity with RPA” will become a desirable skill on any resume, including yours! And I am sharing three of my very easy, personally tested learning hacks to get you started!
How to start Learning RPA?
Whether you are a new graduate exploring RPA as a potential career or a DIY solo warrior looking to reduce your manual work through RPA, there are several platforms available today that you can learn and master.
However, the success of your efforts will depend on more than just completing academic training or participation certificates.
If this is one of the first posts you’re reading on this blog, I recommend checking out this post on Why UiPath is The Best Platform To Start Learning RPA. This is not to nudge you toward a specific tool, but because this post details what you should consider when making a choice. Also, my recommendations are tailored to an individual’s learning success, not to the commercial success of big corporations.
The Three Hacks To Learning RPA
It’s easy to look at a professional chef effortlessly make a tantalising dish on live TV. In fact, it’s so easy that we sometimes forget or neglect the hard work and years of practice that went into that “effortless” performance.
If I were to cook in front of a live audience and TV cameras, I’d probably make Chai – the one thing I do well – and still, probably add salt instead of sugar! Luckily, learning RPA is not that difficult and there are tons of resources available (including yours truly 🙂).
So, is learning RPA really a cakewalk?
Well, at the risk of being Captain Obvious here, I must say that there is no substitute for hard work.
But of course, there are ways to make the struggle easier!
Here are three ways you can minimise your effort when getting started with any RPA platform of your choice.
1. Find The Right Guidance
Robotic Process Automation is selling like hotcakes right now. But with this rapid growth of the technology, more and more companies are launching their own RPA software. As a result, there are two new developments in this space.
1.1. Clever Marketing
Companies – old and new alike – are coming up with clever and better marketing to appease customers.
Every conceivable buzzword is being thrown around to promote the next best, all-encompassing product. It is not necessarily misleading, but it can certainly be overwhelming sometimes.
1.2. Continuous Improvement
Another major side effect of fierce competition is that companies are always improving their software, which means frequent updates to the software interface and pre-built libraries (ready-to-use code packages that save you the time to build from scratch).
As a result, the tutorials also need to be updated for the new features; which may not always be as quick as the updates. Also, other community volunteers who make tutorials or YouTube videos also need to rework their training material.
Do. Your. Own. Research.
Read (blogs, LinkedIn), listen (to podcasts) and watch (YouTube videos). Find people and resources that talk about the tool you’re trying to learn. I personally love working on UiPath, but that’s not because it’s the only tool I have tried. I have learned (and even taught) some other popular platforms.
There are some really great communities of RPA developers and enthusiasts alike, who share information and technical experience gained through personal failures. Connect with the people and communities that resonate with you. Share with them your problems, and also lessons that you learned on your own.
It is through this process that I found my online RPA community, which brings me to my next point.
2. Find The Right People
It seems like a long time ago now, but I learned about UiPath in early 2017. I was already working on Blue Prism at the time and was learning Automation Anywhere simultaneously. As part of my own research (Yes, I always start with Hack #1 for everything I do), I had tried to get help on the other tools I was learning at the time.
It was frustrating to know that there were no developer-friendly licenses to help you learn on your own. I was fortunate enough to be working for a company which made licenses available for us just to learn. But it also made me wonder how would an industry grow fast enough if everyone insisted on keeping secrets.
I love all things open source and it broke my heart to see this closed doors policy everywhere. That was until I started learning UiPath.
And Then I Found ONE Open Door!
I learned that UiPath is one of the leading RPA software providers that also offers a “Community Edition” where developers can learn to build robots without having to worry about license. It sounded too good to be true, so I tried it. And it blew my mind… (and then blew it some more, because I discovered UiPath Academy and UiPath Forum immediately after that.)
Now all these years later, I am a part of an RPA community that welcomes more RPA beginners every day. The Community Edition is still available, with all the features 100% available to every developer. And for learning RPA, UiPath Academy is still one of the best resources!
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
Of all the inspirational things I have read or heard about learning, the analogy of standing on the shoulders of giants is my favourite. Those who have gone somewhere before us will always have some wisdom to share. I have learned so much from reading and watching my RPA family build amazing things and share their knowledge with everyone with such enthusiasm!
Find the right people. They will take you where success awaits.
3. Get Started!
Now, you probably already saw this advice coming… Yes, I am not the first one to say this and yes, it is probably the most repeated advice ever, but You Gotta Start Somewhere! It’s the same story as with planning to workout, waking up early or learning to play the guitar! Whether it’s fun or dreadful, starting something new is always scary. And it takes time to set a routine. All you really need to do is start somewhere.
But don’t take it from me. Here is some gifspiration for you to get going!
Even with RPA, any resource could only be helpful if we’re willing to put enough effort into it. Now that you have started your journey to master the secret art of Robotic Process Automation, let me share a powerful learning technique that involves mindset training.
The Three-Step Framework To Learn Anything!
It takes time and effort to master any new skill, and it’s almost always overwhelming in the beginning. It’s like looking at the mountain’s summit even before your hike has started. I have my own mountains to climb too, and sometimes it gets quite daunting. I am currently learning to be a better content creator for YOU – my audience!
So, recently I was watching one of my favourite mentors talk about starting new projects on his YouTube video. He shared what he calls a Three-Step Framework. You can make the learning process much less daunting by breaking it into these three goals.
1. Get Going
In the beginning, focus on just the start. Your first few attempts may be colossal failures. But Push On!
Focus on finishing the official training offered by the RPA platform of your choice. Look for solutions online, and ask for help on forums. Use Hack #1 and Hack #2 from this post as much as you can.
2. Get Good!
Once you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s time to focus on getting better at this.
Take the RPA Challenge. It’s self-explanatory and regarded as one of the best ways to test yourself. 🙂
Try to actively help others on various RPA forums. There are so many of them!
3. Get Smart!
In this step, you can decide how you want to apply your newly learned skills.
If you’re a job seeker, consider getting certified in the tool that’s most suitable to your liking. This may sound counter-intuitive or even plain stupid. But I recommend learning the tool YOU like – if you have the choice. Jobs are plenty, job satisfaction is rare. Always look out for Number One.
If you are a one-man-army, be it a solopreneur or even an employee just trying to make your own job easier, the certifications are not important. Focus on finding boring and mundane things in your own routine. Get inspiration by searching “RPA use cases” in various RPA forums. There’s a lot of gold in other people’s ideas, too!
The list of hacks I provided is intentionally generic in nature, not specific. They provide a broad framework to find the help you need – but to do it such that it suits your learning style. I hope you find value in the approach I suggested. In my opinion, the best way to succeed at something is to choose the path that favours you. Find what you want to learn, and then give it your best!
Where are you in your RPA journey? I would like to help out with your research in finding the right guidance, the right people and also when you get started! I would love to hear and share your story with the broader RPA community. Complete the survey below and join the RPA For Everyone community. You can also follow or connect with me on my social channels (available at the top of the page).
If you found this article helpful and informative, I would ask that you share this with three of your friends and colleagues who will also benefit from this information.
(Just before I go, here is the link to the YouTube video of the stand-up by Gaurav Kapoor. Go show him some love.)
And of course, Happy Learning! I’ll see you in the next post. 👋🏼