Five Considerations When Choosing an RPA Solution

As the market for RPA quickly grows and evolves, new themes emerge. Here are five themes that are relevant whether you’re just starting with automation, or scaling your current RPA solution.

Adopting an RPA solution via a systematic and informed approach

In the frenzy to adopt an RPA solution, many enterprises moved forward after spending only a short time evaluating which software tools work best with their infrastructure constraints or IT policy. Often, adoption has not taken place in parallel with building a systematic program, or Center of Excellence, around RPA. This means there’s no expert body to guide process selection, robot development, and robot management. These factors are just as, and sometimes even more, vital than the automating processes themselves. It is vital to consider whether there is buy-in across the organization from key stakeholders. There should be a framework in place for moving from automation concept to full implementation. The time spent upfront creating a robust governance model around RPA allows our customers to scale effectively.

Increase in RPA solution providers

What began as a small group of pure-play RPA solution vendors has turned into an M&A frenzy. Not to mention the partnerships ready to take a piece of the RPA market! While this can consolidate the market and drive down costs, it causes confusion when choosing an RPA solution. There are signs that the market is trending toward providing a holistic solution (not just a point task-automation tool). These solutions incorporate RPA as a part of an automation toolkit, and allow customers to tailor to their needs.

Here are some questions you might want to ask RPA vendors:

  1. What is your product roadmap?
  2. How are you moving from point RPA focus to holistic automation?

And what happens if your chosen vendor gets acquired by another organization? This leads us into the next hurdle when choosing an RPA solution.

Compare licensing models

Most vendors adopt a licensing model with a yearly fee per robot. But soon there will be a shift to more ‘flexible’ models that let customers pay for usage as measured by indicators such as time, transaction volume, etc. Although this is a more intuitive and efficient model, the journey there will cause confusion among procurement shops who will have to wrap their heads around comparing diverse licensing models. This won’t be easy, as each RPA solution comes with its own unique approach to pricing.  Over time, M&A activity will simplify this by consolidating the pool of vendors.

Why an RPA solution alone might not be enough

While an RPA solution automates manual tasks, it alone may not be enough. For a proof-of-concept, simple task-automation capability may meet the mark. But as an enterprise scales and applies automation to more processes, it will become clear that an RPA solution alone is not enough to get things done. For example, what if the process you need to automate relies on various data formats? What if the system needs to support multiple ingestion channels? Is there active hand-off that needs to take place between people and automation? These all suggest the need to pair your RPA solution with other capabilities such as capture, BPM, and analytics.

Taking a holistic approach to bundling these capabilities is called Intelligent Automation. With an Intelligent Automation focus lens from day one you can avoid the trap of trying to apply RPA to all processes, only to realize (post investment) that it wasn’t the right thing to do.

Finance and accounting are ideal areas for Intelligent Automation, as repetitive tasks and unstructured data are the norm. The procure-to-pay process can benefit from these types of automation. You can use your RPA solution to extract invoice data from e-invoicing web portals. Next, an advanced OCR capability recognizes the document and extracts and perfects the data into a digital format. Then RPA completes the process by moving these images into your ERP.

Why a scalable RPA solution is a must

Finding the right RPA solution takes focus and buy-in from the right stakeholders. Making the wrong choice here leads to lost investment, disappointment, and a pivot away from RPA (which could have driven ROI).  It is most important to adopt a platform that supports scale. The landscape is full of RPA solutions from vendors who try to bolster their scalability via outside partners to fill technology gaps. Leading software providers offer an Intelligent Automation platform, which bundles an RPA solution and smart automation technologies together on an integrated platform, customizable for your needs today and in the future.

Take a look at our automation solutions here.

This piece is by Chris Huff, CSO at Kofax, and first appeared in its original version on the Kofax website.