In the series of articles about RPA, we show the two most important aspects of investing in process automation, and we explain how to prepare for it. In the previous article, we shared our experience about planning RPA implementation focusing on building and engaging the team at the subsequent stages of the project. Today, we will present to you the criteria that we find crucial in choosing an RPA platform. Its adaptation to the needs of a specific organization is one of the essential success factors.

Firstly: the people

A fundamental element of every project are people — the availability of an involved competent team that will carry it out. For the sponsor of work associated with robotization, it means that the company should focus on RPA platform providers who meet two major criteria.

  • The first one is an extended network of local partner businesses.

The implementation of robots in an organization entails a significant change; therefore, other risks (for example, related to the technological side of the program) should be limited accordingly. Cooperation with a trusted, preferably local, partner with competencies confirmed by the technology provider will let you address the emerging challenges effectively.

  • The second one is free access to training materials and active community of users of a given platform.

Thanks to this, you can build competencies in the team responsible for the automation by your own.

Why are these criteria so crucial? It is because fulfilling them will let you avoid the risk of vendor-lock. It means that the success of an automation program is dependent on the availability of expensive and probably difficult to reach experts specialized in niche technologies.

 

The next stage: technological verification

It is another important aspect related to the technology. What should you pay attention to with respect to the technological verification of considered RPA platforms?

  • Safety standards

It is not just the way of key and password storage, encrypting communication between different platform components, or the integration with the selected SSO (single sign-on) mechanisms. It is also vital that the product itself, and the process of platform development meet specific standards and obtain certification (for example, Veracode Verified Continuous). This is especially important in the case of financial institutions.

  • Standards related to the organization’s IT architecture

They have an impact on the time necessary for the recovery of platform functionalities after a serious failure or on the approach to building a high availability environment. These parameters may not seem crucial during the implementation of the first processes, but it is worth remembering that, ultimately, robots will probably be included in the group of apps of which high availability is required.

  • Functionality associated with robot configuration and the process automation itself.

This factor can be concluded as the most important in the whole undertaking. The best way to evaluate whether a given platform will meet your expectations is purely empirical verification. We encourage you to include elements, such as cooperation of robots with critical applications in the company and different ways of robot interaction with business apps (np. Critix), in the PoT/PoC phase (proof of technology/proof of concept).

As part of creating the first processes, it is worth paying attention to the team’s opinions on the examined platform and take them into account in the process of choosing the solution. Not only does the facility of creating new program robots with the selected technology matter. We must also assess the functionalities associated with managing the operation of created automata, planning their launch, and managing the results of their work in general.

Since software robots can work in 24 hours a day, also on holidays, it is worth taking into account new opportunities that occur with the increased availability of these digital employees. Therefore, the functionalities associated with planning the work for a robot and verifying the course of work are that essential.

  • Components that allow detecting processes to automate based on the analysis of the transaction data (process mining).

They play a role, especially in the case of bigger organizations.

  • Support for different automation variants.

With respect to the approach to automation, the selected platform should support attended, unattended or hybrid robotization in case of which human intervention is necessary, for example, to handle an exception or to make a business decision so that the process could be continued without human participation.

  • Easy integration by means of programming interfaces (API) and launching code written in one of the popular languages (C#, Java Python, SQL, etc.).

It may seem that it denies the idea of robotization for everyone. However, it often allows us to reuse proven solutions and save time during robot implementation.

 

Phase three: the cost

The commercial aspect, that is the cost of the undertaking, should be a derivative of our robotization plan and expected return on investment. Major RPA platform vendors provide their products based on yearly licenses (the charge in the case of maintaining the same license package in the following years of operation remains unchanged). It is worth remembering that there are companies which offer other ways of billing their customers. Their quotations are based on the robot working time, or license per user. Sometimes, they apply a one-time license fee, and then a much lower maintenance fee.

 

Summary

Finally, I have one more clue: while analyzing long-term benefits of investment in an RPA platform, it is worth looking at the vendor’s plans associated with their development and the new versions of the product released so far.

I hope that this article will help you define the process of selecting an RPA technology. In the next one, we will give you some more insights into the rules which should be followed when you build the list of processes to automate.

Author

  • Adam Drzewososki
  • RPA Consultant
  • A manager with over 15 years of experience in software and technology consulting. A graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology and the Warsaw School of Economics experienced in managing big teams (over 50 FTE) in international programs and projects. He has cooperated with clients from the financial, manufacturing, and telecommunication industries in Europe and the Middle East. At Craftware, he is responsible for consulting and development of RPA services.

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