RPA tools vs Test automation tools (Selenium-TestComplete...)

I dont really understand what is the difference between RPA tools vs Test automation tools (Selenium-TestComplete…). I guess that RPA is more for automating a bussiness processes and test automation tools are for automating the tests for some product/app.
Am I right? If so, These scenarios are very different from each other so I guess that there are also some situations where the use of one or the other can be compatible?


Hi Carlos!

RPA tools comes in different types, some are better at some things than others. Similarly it has to do with the tool stack of the system under test.

Claissic big names RPA tools mostly focus on automating business processes. For standard systems (enterprise grade like SAP, dynamics 365 etc) and for legacy systems - some of the RPA tools could be relevant to consider. see article below.

If your system under test is web only, and you have the source code - use the classic test automation tools. If it’s web, but you don’t have the code base perhaps testim.io and cypress.io is relevant for your end to end tests. Consider if you have the classic layers of the test pyramid available.

If you prefer to build a codebase of test on top of SAP, RoboCloud/Robot Framework has some options too.


Thanks for your answer Jesper. When you said “If your system under test is web only, and you have the source code - use the classic test automation tools” I was wondering: Why if your system under test is web only? :slight_smile:

first of all, if the system under test is web only, there is no need to spend 1000’s of $£€ on the big name commercial RPA tools. :smiley: Their strength is more on processing automation of tedious end user business tasks and where the testing goes across things on the desktop (outside the browser) … (and systems without an available code base)

If your system under test is web only, you can follow the modern testing principles and build in Observability in (https://charity.wtf/) and a lot of the things in the code. Plenty of best practices around ci/cd for web systems. Obviously it depends on how well the knowledge about the system is codified - but you can work on that within your org/team too.

It’s more tricky of the source code of your web SUT is not available to you and render new locators every time you deploy or refresh. … for that consider to move up the stack and use cypress or testim.

IMHO :slight_smile:


The RPA tools are designed to help the user during the presentation layer for interaction with applications. Some popular examples include UiPath, Blue Prism, VisualCron, etc. The RPA technology is made to easy building of applications fostering quick deployment and management.

However, test automation tools are used by testing companies or QAOps teams to automate their software testing needs, especially for those that involve repetition and demand extensive manual efforts. Selenium, Robotium, Swift by BugRaptors, etc.


As said the RPA tools are generally engineered to run long repetitive processes to remove manual effort and introduce greater reliability due to accuracy and not going to make a cup of tea. The tools can either be ran locally - attended - or on remote machines - unattended. When running attended they can wait for the user to interact and then process information. For example an insurance company with 2 systems that aren’t connected, the user can press a button and the bot enters all of the information in the second system.

The tool we use will swap between desktop and web automation within the same flow. If you want to have a look at an RPA tool the Microsoft Power Automate Desktop is free, as is the Community Version of UI Path.

Some of the simple things people want to do is an advanced mail merge between Excel and Word, both power automate and UI path can do this with ease. Power Automate can do it in the cloud via APIs, you wouldn’t even have to run it attended. Another simple example people have are updating and manipulating Excel data to add formulas and change data structures, you can do this through macros and code, or with a few clicks in Power Automate.

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There has been introduced a new “thing” called " Robotic Test Automation" I’m still unfamiliar with it but it seems to be something like RPA + Test Automation.

RPA or Robotic Process Automation is an automation technology that can automate any repetitive business tasks.
The RPA is platform independent and mainly is consist of bots that automate a process for humans.
The best use of RPA can be described by its use in workflow automation.
When using the RPA tools your focus is not any on working on a single unit but to automate a whole process from start till the end.
Some uses of RPA can be data extraction, image recognition, payroll processing etc.

Now selenium on the other hand is just a tool that in simple language controls web browser.
Functional testing, salesforce lwc testing etc are some form of testing that can be performed with the tool.
Test automation tools can help you run a process over and over again, imitating any human behavior.
So in other words it is just performing the task by following the exact steps coded to it, like any human would do.