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What’s the difference between RPA and human-assisted automation?

RPAs are great for efficiency but some automation processes need a little human touch. 

the difference between RPA and human-assisted automation

Automation is a lifesaver in IT, especially for MSPs. Whether you are using robotic process automation (RPA) to put routine tasks on autopilot or tapping human-assisted automation to streamline important work processes, it lifts a burden from overworked teams and helps organizations deliver fast, consistent service to clients.  

Being able to identify which tool is right for the task – a fully automated RPA or an automation that is guided by human input and approvals – is fast becoming a high-level MSP leadership skill. These tools are often conflated but the distinction between them is important.  

RPA bots have allowed IT pros to handle more work in less time, deliver a more consistent result, and save up to 40% in labor costs

In the last few years, robotic process automation (RPA) bots have allowed IT pros to handle more work in less time, deliver a more consistent result and, according to some estimates, save up to 40% in labor costs. As they merge with AI, these bots are getting smarter and more capable.  

But asking an RPA bot to take over the less predictable work of governing your day-to-day work processes and projects can lead to problems that iterate unchecked. Moovila is often confused with RPA but when it comes to automating high-level work management, the human checkpoints in our human-assisted automation are necessary. 

When should you use RPA and when does your automation need human assistance? 

Where RPA shines 

RPA is great at taking over tasks that are repetitive, rule based, clearly structured, and that you have a predefined process for.  

For example, if you are updating a client’s systems and the work involves endless hours of pulling data from an old tool and building it out in a new one, RPA could be your best friend. Or when you are drowning in the overhead of managing a help desk, dealing with password resets, authentication, and other routine and predictable account management chores, tools like Pia’s aiDesk, ConnectWise's new hyperautomation features, and even Kaseya’s imminent Kooper Bots can take over the tiresome labor and do those jobs faster, more consistently, and at any hour of the day or night. 

These little bots are built to mimic and repeat human actions. They can even make decisions, if you give them clear rules to follow and the decision you want is always logical.  

After some minimal, code-free setup, your bots will spend 24 hours a day repeating the boring tasks that were dragging down your human team. And they will do it without procrastinating, complaining, or taking too many coffee breaks. 

RPA bots can be better at some things than humans. The radar and lidar in autonomous vehicles, for example, never blinks, changes the music, or otherwise takes its eyes off the road. Humans can’t manage that level of unrelenting focus. Similarly, an RPA bot will keep doing its task without making mistakes or sleeping. 

When things get messy, lean on human-assisted automation 

Project management is too unpredictable and complex for RPA, though. Letting a bot make a decision – that turns out to be a bad one – and then iterate that mistake throughout your project could potentially create more problems than it solved.  

Unchecked automation could be disastrous for work that requires complicated decisions, sensitivity to customer preferences, human interaction, and negotiations. Humans are much better at high-level decisions like reallocating resources, negotiating changing delivery dates, and crisis management.  

But automation can help keep track of the details and bring the need for those human skills to the attention of the right people. Moovila’s Automated Project Monitoring and Management (APMM) is precisely the human-assisted automation this work needs. 

In the way that automobile technology can warn you of an imminent crash, prevent a collision, or redirect you around an upcoming slowdown, APMM lets you take your eyes off the details while it filters through vast complexity and surfaces only the information that needs your immediate attention or a human decision. 

APMM is the right level of automation for project management 

There are thousands of data points in a complex project. Monitoring them all and staying on top of how every change will affect every aspect of the project – today and in the future – is a near-impossible task for humans. (This is why so many complex projects fail.) 

For an AI purpose-built for the job, though, this is easy work.  

APMM will notice every change in every connected calendar, resource, delivery, and task and constantly calculate the implications against the goal 24 hours a day. It never has to take its eye off the data to meet with a client or focus on other work.  

When things go wrong – hardware isn’t delivered on schedule, a resource is out sick, or an important task slips – you want to know about it as quickly as possible. Without APMM, you might learn about the problem in a meeting – if you ask the right question. APMM, though, alerts you immediately – if the delay will cause a problem – without any risk of that information slipping through the cracks. 

APMM is like the dashboard in that autonomous vehicle. You can glance at a gauge and know in an instant if everything is running smoothly or if there is a problem – and how serious that problem is. A lot of computer power is happening behind that gauge, of course. But it only alerts you to the things that require your attention. 

Complexity in a glanceable gauge 

When a piece of equipment isn’t delivered when expected, for example, the APMM will calculate how that delay will iterate downstream, what other tasks the delay will affect, and how much all of that will affect your product delivery date. It will do this long before any human has time to raise a red flag.  

While APMM won’t fix the problems – the solutions are too myriad and nuanced – it will suggest solutions. After it has run the numbers and chosen the most effective fixes, it presents you with options. You can choose one of those and solve the problem quickly. Or come up with a solution of your own. Not only does APMM save many hours of project management labor, but it also improves the outcome of your projects, making it much more likely that every project will be delivered when you promised it at a predictable cost. 


Ultimately, there is no question that both RPA and APMM tools are the next frontier of efficient service delivery – side by side both of these technologies can be game changers for MSPs. By strategically deploying a combination of RPA for routine tasks and human-assisted automation for complex decision dependent tasks, MSPs can achieve an optimal balance of efficiency and insight in their day-to-day operations. 

Curious about APMM? Want to take an APPM tool for spin? Explore a self-guided tour of Moovila’s Perfect Project for MSPs solution. 




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