Our love-hate relationship with Microsoft Excel isn’t new. Excel spreadsheets are essential to manage and analyse a plethora of data produced every day. Many organizations have started automating these spreadsheets with VBA, popularly known as macros. But these scripts and macros have their own set of limitations, which makes spreadsheets highly inefficient. No wonder several businesses, large and small, are turning towards RPA software to run macros or replace them.


Let’s face it, entering data from one report to another is no one’s dream job. Macros help teams automate manual data entry process, but what about the business risks with them? Before we explain the difference between Excel macros and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), here are a few reasons why using Excel may cause more harm than good!

 

Security Issues

Do you remember the Melissa virus that took the world by storm in 1999? For those who don’t recall, Melissa was a Word document virus sent disguised in an email that seemingly resembled one of the several contacts in the user’s Outlook address book. When the document was downloaded, the file would send itself to the first 50 contacts! While macro viruses such as these may appear to be a thing of the past, they are making a comeback in a more sophisticated way.

RPA software vs Excel

 

To mitigate the risks of such malware, RPA software is becoming the favourite alternative amid all the cyber security concerns in modern businesses. RPA software eliminates the risk of running unidentified documents and spreadsheets and fosters more collaboration.

 

Ineffective Management

Following on our previous point on collaboration, managing several users on a single spreadsheet can be tedious and cumbersome! Macros are commonly used in Excel to eliminate basic mistakes, but the truth is, they also contribute to some of these errors. Since most of the spreadsheet users aren’t VBA experts, relying on macros implies that the team may not be able to solve a problem if the need arises. The constant back and forth of the document over email can also make it hard to manage excel automation. And imagine a scenario where the person who had created the macros leaves the company only to be replaced by someone who doesn’t understand the code? This will result in wasting of precious hours trying to either decipher the VBA script or create new macros. And while your team does that, the actual users of the spreadsheet will be unable to collaborate effectively!

 

Managing a spreadsheet with multiple users can complicate things when it doesn’t have to be. That is why RPA software is gaining prominence since it requires little to no human intervention while automating tasks. An RPA bot can work on its own to automate several tasks and free up the time of the user to focus on more strategic work. And these bots can perform all tasks with 100% accuracy!

 

Lack of scalability

Macros and VBA scripts can only work with limited software solutions. That is why achieving enterprise-wide automation is hard to achieve with Excel. If you want to achieve enterprise-level automation with Excel, you will have to create new scripts to duplicate features. And in most cases, macros alone won’t be able to help!

With RPA software, all these problems are solved. RPA bots allow companies to achieve enterprise-class automation that comprises central process management, audit logs, security features, and error reporting and handling! RPA is scalable and easy to use without any extensive training and know-how of coding. And if anything goes wrong, companies can reach out to their RPA vendors to fix the problem! It is a win-win for both parties.

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RPA Software Vs. Excel Macros

The best part of using RPA software is that you don’t have to discard your macros that are mission-critical for your operations! An RPA bot can run existing macros without disturbing your business environment. To help you better understand the difference between RPA software and Excel, here is an infographics:

RPA Software vs Excel

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A robot can gather data on procedures, which is impossible in the case of a macro. This makes it ideal for more complex tasks like business process automation and legacy application monitoring. If you use macros, you can automate them with RPA, which when executed with the VBA script can monitor and audit all Excel automation from a central location. RPA software can also integrate the macros into workflows! If you intend to use RPA alone, then also these non-intrusive bots can automate operational work with integrated security.

Either way, RPA bots are easy to train and can be deployed for live monitoring, reporting, and analytics. They can be used by almost all the departments to automate manual work. Still have questions related to RPA software? Contact us today to get a complimentary proof of concept and see how RPA will work in your specific business environment.

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