Why You Should Quit Macros and Use the VBA Script Alternative
We all have something we want to automate at work. This could be a mind-numbing Excel task, a manual process involving moving content from one place to another, or something else entirely. If you’re a programmer, that might be where VBA scripts and macros come in. Unfortunately, we’re not all programmers. Unless you are a VBA programmer – and a good one at that – chances are you struggle to make good use of VBA scripts and other macros to automate routine tasks. Below we’ve listed three reasons why VBA isn’t the best solution for most of us, and one great alternative.
Problem 1: VBA is a Language That Needs to Be Learned
Visual Basic for Applications (VBA, for most of us) is actually not too difficult to pick up for the average programmer. The problem is, most of us aren’t programmers at all. That means that you’ll need to rely on IT to develop and fix your macros or learn to write code yourself. When done correctly, VBA scripts and other macros can be a powerful tool for automating routine tasks. The biggest challenge here is information: IT has it and you don’t. What you need is a solution that lets you automate tasks without learning a new language…literally.
Problem 2: VBA is a Moving Target
Let’s say you’ve got this killer macro that IT created for you whose sole purpose is to move data between two Excel 2007 spreadsheets. Five years later we have a new version of Excel, and it’s totally different from its predecessors. Buttons, options, and other objects have moved to new locations and that macro you had is totally lost. Imagine if these kinds of updates occur more frequently with other applications.
In a worst-case scenario, an unchecked macro enters data into the wrong fields for hundreds or thousands of records (read here). That’s a lot of incorrect work to undo. The problem is, macros are positional-based automation solutions. They look for spots on the screen rather than specific objects. Any changes in the position of something on-screen (and even if the window is minimized), can send your macro into a tailspin and it will need to be rewritten.
Problem 3: Macros Are Not Very Smart
We just covered how even small changes in the orientation of objects on the screen can wreck your macros. What’s worse, though, is a VBA script’s inability to handle the eventual errors it encounters. The world is an imperfect place. Websites crash, Excel formulas break, and applications fail. In each of these cases, most macros would be unable to recognize the error and either crash or continue to attempt to enter data incorrectly. Even the best macros lack the intelligence to recognize something like an error message and find an alternate course of action. You can forget about the macro notifying you if it encounters an issue.
A Better Alternative to VBA Scripts: Robotic Process Automation
The best alternative here is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Think of it like a macro on steroids. Unlike VBA scripting, there is no language to learn. No code to write. Instead, our RPA tool, Foxtrot, works off of a set of instructions you create by simply dragging and dropping a target on the screen. Most customers are up and running inside of a few hours. Foxtrot easy both easy to use and highly effective at replacing VBA scripts. It looks for objects, not spots on a screen, to do its job. Even if a button or object moves or the screen is minimized, the program will find it. Tell Foxtrot what to do if it encounters an error and it will make it happen.
Want to learn specifically how you can leverage Foxtrot to automate that pesky manual process at your organization? Request a demo today.