Imagine you are part of a company actively seeking to implement robotic process automation. Like thousands of companies around the world, you desire to streamline and optimize your growing operations across a wide variety of functions and tasks such as: reducing operating expenses; improving the quality and timeliness of your company’s services; streamlining data transfers between company databases; or optimizing your accounting department.
This of course raises questions: How can your company evaluate RPA vendors? What characteristics does the ideal RPA vendor possess? How do you make the right choice?
While the selection process for an RPA vendor will undoubtedly vary between companies, there are a handful of crucial elements that all companies should seek out, whether they’re an HR provider, a financial services firm, or an automobile manufacturer.
What to look for: the company
Ensuring the right level of support is in place when implementing RPA can make or break the automation experience. The support services offered by RPA vendors are critical drivers in fostering an implementation process which runs smoothly and with minimal disruptions to existing workflows. Some key features of a RPA vendor aligned with this train of thought include:
Dedication to technology innovation
A leading RPA vendor will show a deep commitment to constantly advancing its currently available RPA software offerings. Companies should look for a competitive company that offers major product releases once a year and minor releases even more frequently. The prospective vendor can be asked to share their product development roadmap, which should display robust plans for incorporating technological improvements in the future.
Generous customer support
Around-the-clock implementation and technical support is essential for enabling automation success. Such product support means that a vendor should be willing to provide one-on-one demos as well as email and phone support throughout the RPA journey. The chosen RPA vendor must be able to proactively meet changing customer demands over time.
Streamlined user experience
Business users should be able to graphically create process automation with a comprehensive set of intuitive, self-evident tools and features. By making users feel comfortable and confident, a straightforward RPA platform will ensure that operational acceptance of the new software will be easier to achieve. Similarly, the RPA vendor should also enable the company’s developers and IT decision-makers to easily extend business-user automation into higher functionality and value.
Comprehensive user training
RPA customers should carefully evaluate a vendor’s product training tools, since these resources help promote RPA success within a company for business users and developers alike. A leading RPA vendor should provide either onsite or remote training as well as exhaustive access to online training libraries. Training options for users should include a range of computer-based training through webinars and videos as well as online documentation of tutorials, release notes, and best practices.
What to look for: the software
A leading RPA vendor must also offer a cutting-edge RPA software product, as it is ultimately the characteristics of a vendor’s software that deliver the most tangible automation outcomes. We’ve discussed in previous blog entries the importance of selecting an automation platform that best fits a given company’s architecture, a choice which can and should be impacted by a number of variables, such as:
Ease and speed of implementation and integration
Innovative RPA products must be flexible and extensible, meaning that they effortlessly integrate with a range of platforms and technologies ranging from BPMS and cognitive tools for processing unstructured data to CRM, ERP, and Citrix applications. A vendor with a flexible, logical implementation model is essential for accommodating the RPA process from piloting to scaling. Look for an RPA solution where automated processes can be quickly and seamlessly established, because implementation costs will run 9 times the cost of the technology itself.
One of the major strengths of an RPA product is its scalability, so it is important to choose a vendor whose platform can be easily and quickly scaled. Process volumes inherently fluctuate at different moments during a day, week, and year. Companies must not only meet demands during peak times, but also make sure that robots usage is optimal across processes, something which pertains to an RPA solution's capacity management features. Last but not least, they must be empowered to scale the automation permanently to match long-term company growth. The solution must allow automated workflows and resources to be replicated and reused across future initiatives, in different business departments and locations.
Advanced analytical reporting
A robust RPA product must be designed to collect, organize, and analyze operational metrics, such as the time it took to process an order, the number of outstanding transactions, as well as the processes that generated exceptions and needed human intervention. The software product should help companies identify operational bottlenecks, determine where improvements can be made, and update their automated workflows in order to leverage leaner business performance.
All businesses are subject to regulatory compliance in order to protect their operations, employees, and customers. A good RPA product allows companies to maintain more effective legal standards by providing improved process oversight. Companies should choose a platform that saves the results of automated workflows into an activity log. Such a log file is crucial for storing the process information necessary (which process were executed, when exceptions were generated, and if employees intervened) that may be needed for an audit.
What to look for: the best overall choice
Making the right choice for an RPA vendor is not always an easy task and may be clouded by the overwhelming information provided by various vendors about their products and services. Using the key features we’ve discussed here as a starting point will help frame part of your choice, but be mindful of the fact that you will also need to very clearly establish your goals and strategies right from the start. This will play a big role in the selection process and will help determine the outcome – which, for many companies, is fundamentally a more lean, efficient, and cost-effective way of conducting their business.
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