What Are PDD and SDD In RPA?

Anyone still in doubt about the rise of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) need look no further than a Grandview study that showed the sector’s value was expected to soar from $358 million in 2017 to $3.11 billion in 2025. In a business world where increased efficiencies and reduced costs are the holy grail, the ability of robots or software to process a transaction, communicate with other digital systems, trigger a response or manipulate data is almost too good to be true. It’s little wonder that 85% of large and very large organisations are planning to deploy some form of RPA by the end of 2022.

Befitting an emerging technology though, newcomers to automation will likely find their heads spinning as they come to grips with the nuances and intricacies of developing and deploying RPA. While there are countless facets to be explored, let’s focus on two acronyms that appear regularly in RPA conversations that every business should be aware of given the vital role they play in the journey to automation.

What is PDD in RPA?

PDD stands for Process Definition Document, which outlines the business process to be developed within RPA. Typically prepared by the end-user and/or business analyst, the document is then used by the developer as the basis from which to design automated solutions.

Documenting a process in detail is essential for a successful automation. This means gathering as much information as possible about the task and identifying all the gaps and possibilities of improvement to make it more flexible for RPA. This includes the process flow and sequence of steps for the current manual process (the ‘as-is’ process), along with the potential automated process (the ‘to-be’ process) which may be illustrated as a map or diagram. Key details may include FTE, transaction load, business rules, error handling, risks, dependencies and known and unknown exceptions.

A vital communication tool, the PDD is a highly confidential document due to its sensitive contents and should be shared with business leaders for final approval before being passed to the RPA development team.

What is SDD in RPA?

An acronym for Solution Design Document, the SDD is usually prepared by the developer and helps end-users understand how to implement the automated solution. They are created for every business process that is automated using RPA and contain high-level design reports that describe the ‘to-be’ process.

The importance of having a quality SDD in any RPA project cannot be understated. By detailing factors such as the architecture design, applications involved in automation, decision logics and exception handling, the developer offers their client the best chance of RPA success. Other items that may be included in an SDD include information security (required compliance observation), debugging tips for potential issues and factors that impact the success of the automation.

Defining how errors and exceptions will be handled and communicated to the user is also critical as it not only improves the stability of the bot but allows insights into scenarios that could otherwise be missed. This is particularly critical for transaction-based processes as an RPA should never be halted due to one single transaction failure. A proper resilience plan should also be established with the business to ensure minimal risk in the event of bot failure or server/software issues. Given the complex nature of creating an SDD, it is also highly recommended to use versioning and track changes to ensure access to previous drafts.


When it comes to RPA, over-documentation is a blessing rather than a curse. Whether outlining a business process in a PDD or drafting an SDD for a business, the documents are not only essential for the immediate automation of a task but ensuring that access to key information and knowledge about the RPA is available to future developers and users.

With RPA highly valued by sectors such as financial services, health care, retail and human resources, discover the key steps to consider when preparing for your own RPA journey.