Robotic automation proved itself in the technology market and has taken enterprises by storm in the last decade, with a myriad of RPA vendors moving to provide greater products and improvements. At its current accelerated rate of speed, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will have achieved near-universal adoption by 2023 according to Deloitte’s 2017 RPA analysis. With so many companies cashing in on robotic automation potential, the question isn’t whether a company should adopt RPA, but from whom they should adopt.
Not all RPA companies nor their products are created equal. Many RPA vendors offer RPA solutions in some capacity, but many are not enterprise-ready. To be enterprise-ready refers to RPA solutions that function across all platforms within a company’s operations. Offering an RPA solution tailored to only a few functions within a business can inhibit growth over time–posing a short-term solution with long-term consequences. To help assess whether RPA companies are right for your business’s needs, here are some questions you can ask to make an informed decision.
INQUIRE ABOUT CUSTOMIZATION AND FUNCTIONALITY CAPABILITIES
An effective RPA product will include high levels of customization and the capability to function in every area of business operations. Enterprise-ready RPA solutions cater to all aspects of operations and work with a broad range of applications. Most require little to no specialized integration. RPA vendors should offer the capability for a centralized management interface to measure and monitor performance. Additionally, enterprise-ready RPA solutions must have customization capabilities to fit your company’s needs. Customization ensures the transition to robotic automation is seamless and easy.
RPA solutions must include both attended and unattended process automation. Note that RPA is digitized and does not include a physical robot. Attended RPA bots augment human-based tasks in processes that require intuition and where outcomes are not always the same. Front office work and customer service data collection are two areas where attended bots excel. The use of unattended RPA bots works best when a process can be completed entirely by the bots, such as file imaging and auditing. Providers who have the capability to deploy bots for all processes are great candidates to consider in your discovery process.
INITIATING AN INTERVIEW WITH RPA VENDORS
Three critical issues RPA vendors should be capable of addressing are scaling, employing predictive analytics, and maintaining security. Scaling involves much more than the capacity to grow with your business. Technology continues to evolve across multiple platforms. So, inquire whether your provider can deploy on-premise, through cloud-based platforms, and through hybrid infrastructures. Having the flexibility to deploy on multiple platforms initially, or with the option to at a later date, gives businesses room to expand with RPA as product lines and services grow.
To help your business scale, RPA solutions must offer maintenance options and the ability to upgrade the entire solution or specific components at a time. Enterprise-ready RPA solutions will work with any third-party vendor application. As your business outgrows and exchanges its enterprise software, make sure that your provider’s RPA solutions will adapt along with you.
Prior to speaking with RPA vendors, your company should have a clear set of goals in mind for process automation. Common goals include reducing human error and decreasing the time needed for task completion. Ask potential providers about cognitive automation in their RPA solutions, commonly known as predictive analytics. Solutions equipped with cognitive automation grow and fine-tune processes to further reduce error and speed over time, increasing ROI value.
Be sure to ask your provider about whether solutions meet security requirements. In an age where cybersecurity and data encryption are paramount, RPA solutions must offer protection against cybersecurity threats. Providers with multiple encryption algorithms that can adapt to your company’s operations are ideal candidates.
IMPLEMENTATION AND POST-IMPLEMENTATION USE
Implementation should be flexible when deploying RPA solutions into on-premises, cloud-based, and hybrid infrastructures. Post-implementation usability requires no additional skill such as a specific degree or certification for the average user. However, providers should offer tools and resources in addition to one-on-one education. Verify that RPA solutions have a quick learning curve with access to materials to further education from the provider.
BUILDING AND MAINTAINING POSITIVE RPA VENDORS RELATIONSHIPS
Choosing a provider comes with it the invitation for partnership. Good candidates for RPA solutions will be committed to supporting your business. This means throughout its RPA journey, from conception to post-implementation support. Look for RPA companies who can help your business craft an automation strategy and offer a broad range of RPA solutions to best automate your processes and capture the full ROI. Good candidates will be involved in every step of the processes to ensure your long-term success.
Finally, ask prospective providers whether they are capable of helping your business become self-sustainable in the future. As the adoption of RPA solutions becomes vital to market competitiveness, providers who offer training and resources post-implementation will help your company thrive. These resources give opportunities for your company to carry out maintenance and basic service support in-house to maintain the flow of operations. RPA companies that cannot offer self-sustainability inhibit growth and open the door for vulnerability in the future.
As your company moves forward in its RPA discovery analysis, use these questions as a guideline to selecting the best RPA provider for your business. In short, choose providers that can both craft and execute your automation goals from conception to post-implementation. Make sure their tools are enterprise-ready with the customization and the flexibility to meet your automation needs. And most importantly, choose a vendor committed to your company’s success as it embarks on its RPA journey. In this way, your company sets a firm foundation towards self-sufficiency and vitality.