Microsoft 365 Unattended License-November 2020
Microsoft 365 Unattended License Details
What is the difference between Robotic Process Automation and a bot?
It is important to note that a bot is a computer program that executes the steps in a Robotic Process Automation process. The Robotic Process Automation is the action and process performed by the bot, whereas the bot is the interface and “user” executing said actions. Bots are often utilized to assist a person to execute automation and repetitive tasks and cannot be utilized in order to reduce the number licenses that would typically be required for
device or software use.
“Robotic Process Automation”, otherwise known as “RPA”, refers to when an application, or any set of applications,
are used to capture data and/or manipulate applications to perform tasks.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or artificial intelligence (AI) workers. In traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language. In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI), and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI.
Bots can interface with any application through the UI the same way a user does. Such bots are “trained” by their users by being “shown” how to complete a task and typically follow logical rules such as “if/then” rules while reading & writing to databases. Bots also work with and drive existing applications by opening emails and attachments or inputting data to forms.
You will find slight variations across the industry on bot definitions. Microsoft has its own definitions in order to provide clarity to customers for their specific needs and the potential software licensing implications when implementing RPA scenarios.
What is the Microsoft 365 Unattended License?
When we look at Microsoft’s view into licensing Robotic Process Automation solutions, we follow the same general
outlines as the broader industry definitions. “Robotic Process Automation”, “RPA”, or “bots” means an application, or any set of applications used to capture data and manipulate applications to perform repetitive tasks. Specifically,
when Windows client and/or Microsoft Office or Office 365 is involved, bots operate upon any UI element of Windows 10 within an OSE and/or operates upon any Office application in any OSE.
The Office and Windows components here are key since Microsoft is providing license, bots use rights, and access to its software. Due to the ability for these RPA solutions and bots to perform tasks and access systems the same as a human user would, it is critical to understand this distinction.
We also classify bots into two distinct categories – Attended and Unattended. Below are examples of Attended and Unattended bots. Examples that would require a Microsoft 365 – Unattended License are noted.
“Attended bot” – An Attended bot assists a person to execute automation on the person’s local and/or remote
workstations. It operates concurrently with the person on the same workstation/s to accomplish repetitive tasks and
is triggered by explicit actions of that person.
• i.e. cut & paste information from one screen to another
• i.e. user triggering an action to auto-update customer contact information
• i.e. user clicking a keyboard key in order to send a meeting invite for the next available time to a specified
“Unattended bot” – Any bot that doesn’t conform to the definition of “Attended bot” should be considered an
• i.e. running SQL queries and inputting data into forms
• i.e. sending Excel reports at midnight through an automated process (requires RPA for M365 license)
• i.e. having an application use Microsoft Word to automatically open submitted files and extract data to a
CRM application. (requires RPA for M365 license)Common Robotic Process Automation Scenarios
The following examples highlight the various methods to accomplish the same task with and without a Robotic
Process Automation solution:
Example 1: User receives a message from corporate and needs to send to multiple people in the organization.
• With Attended RPA: If there is a macro that allows the user to click a button and send the message to all parties.
• With Unattended RPA*: If there is a macro that runs autonomously by recognizing the mail and sends the
message to all parties without the user performing any action.
• Without RPA: If the user manually sends the message to all parties.
Example 2: Web Site or Screen Scraping – When a site or screen contains information (stock, news, media, content,
etc.) the page can be scraped by a bot for specific information pieces which can be consolidated and presented to
the end user in order to make a decision at a later time.
• With Attended RPA: If there is a macro that allows the user to click a button and specified content on the site or screen is captured and consolidated.
• With Unattended RPA*: If there is a macro that runs autonomously by scanning for specified content on the site or screen and captures and consolidates.
• Without RPA: If the user manually scans the site or screen to physically capture and consolidate the content.
Example 3: Incoming Customer Email responses – Where an organization traditionally has a team that handles the first line of defense to respond to customer inquiries, an RPA solution can be implemented and tied to key words or phrases with canned answers or links to relevant information.
• With Attended RPA: If there is a macro that allows the user to trigger a task to provide a pre-determined answer to the customer.
• With Unattended RPA*: If there is a macro that automatically responds to customer emails with canned answers based on key words in the submission.
• Without RPA: If the user manually reads and chooses the appropriate pre-determined answer to respond to the customer.
Example 4: Onboarding new employees – An RPA solution can assist new employees to an organization that need
pertinent information to get set up in their organizational system for a smooth onboarding process.
• With Attended RPA: If there is a macro that managers can trigger in order to provide pertinent information to a new employee.
• With Unattended RPA*: If there is a macro that recognizes when a new employee has started and automatically sends them pertinent information.
• Without RPA: If the manager manually sends pertinent information to their new employee after they start.
Example 5: Forms or data processing – An RPA triggers a macro to read information and write to systems instead
of manual data entry.
• With Attended RPA: If there is a macro that is triggered by the user to assist them in writing data into a system.
• With Unattended RPA*: If there is a macro that runs overnight autonomously by reading a data source and writing to a new backup system.
• Without RPA: If the user manually reads information and physically writes it another system.
Example 6: Data transfer – Managing data transfer or backups with an RPA solution with source, destination, and
• With Attended RPA: If there is a macro that is triggered by the user that reads data and transfers to another source destination.
• With Unattended RPA*: If there is a macro that runs autonomously, logs in with credentials, and processes a data backup without user guidance.
• Without RPA: If the user manually processes the data transfer and backups to another destination.
Microsoft Licensing Scenarios
Example 1 – Call Center Automation
A call center has 50 customer service representatives. Each representative requires the ability to trigger UI automation as part of process for updating customer contact information. The automation will occur on each representative’s workstation.
Licensing Solution: 50x Power Automate per user with attended RPA plan.
Rationale: This scenario is setting up an RPA solution that is triggered by the customer service representative for an
automated process, thus this is an Attended scenario. Since there are 50 users, 50 licenses are required.
Example 2 – Finance Data Capture & Entry
A finance department receives invoices attached to Outlook email messages. The department would like to automate the process of capturing data from the invoices and entering the information in a legacy procurement system. The automation will occur without an employee’s involvement across 5 VMs in order to accommodate the volume (anticipated 10,000 invoices/month).
Licensing Solution: 1x Power Automate per flow plan, 5x Power Automate unattended RPA add-on, and 5x Microsoft 365 – Unattended License.
Rationale: This scenario is setting up an RPA solution that is automated (unattended) and accessing an Office application (Outlook) and running on 5 machines. Due to the Office requirement, the Microsoft 365 – -Unattended
License (x5) is required for each machine. In addition to this, each machine also requires the Power Automate unattended RPA add-on (x5). Finally, the Power Automate unattended RPA add-on also has a pre-req of the Power
Automate per flow plan (x1).
Example 3 – HR Reporting
An HR department has 10 users that send Excel reports daily. Each user will create a 3rd party bot that runs
autonomously at midnight and distribute these reports. The automation will occur without employee involvement
on each user’s desktop.
Licensing Solution: 10x Microsoft 365 – Unattended License
Rationale: This scenario is setting up an RPA solution that is running autonomously (unattended) and accessing an
Office application (Excel). Since this solution is not utilizing Microsoft’s Power Platform, the bot does not require any
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