As the first blog post in this series pointed out, product and company are the two key evaluation areas for identifying leading robotic process automation (RPA) providers. That post covered the criteria for selecting a robotic software product. This post addresses how to identify the best robotic process automation software company for business process automation. After all, purchasing great software won’t mean much if the company behind it doesn’t measure up as well.
Without question there’s a subjective element to any selection process – certainly UiPath views its robotic software as the best in the world. Accordingly, the goal of this guide is to provide active and potential robotic software customers with a framework and criteria to serve as a basis for objectivity.
Identifying Top RPA Software Companies
The best software companies – any company, for that matter - are characterized by a healthy balance between three core stakeholders: customers, employees and shareholders. Although this guide is focused on customers, there is also an indirect reflection from the other two stakeholders: software companies require excellent employees for innovative product lines and robust shareholder investments for technology leadership.
This framework covers the three most important elements of company selection criteria: technology leadership; customer commitment and company credibility. The weighting of these areas will depend on the judgement and priorities of the individual customer.
Technology Leadership is a useless term unless it’s used in a way that directly relates to tangible customer value. Therefore, this framework outlines criteria for customer value across four technology leadership areas: tactical; strategic; innovative and adaptive.
Tactical: tactical leadership could also be described as “practical”. In the final analysis, does the company’s technology create high value for the customer in the here and now?
Specifically, does the software product:
- Make Business Users Confident & Productive: RPA is an emerging technology – it is a new experience for almost everyone. This means a superior product will employ intuitive & self-evident features that immediately make business users feel comfortable and confident. Unless a sense of competency is quickly established, acceptance by users will be a long, hard, road. Guidance on what constitutes an effective user experience can be found here and here.
- Enable Developers to Maximize Automation Possibilities: robotic software has two user groups – business-side employees who own & know the processes being automated; IT resources with the skillsets to extend business-user automation into higher functionality and value. Examples of essential technologies for productive automation development can be found here and here.
Strategic: strategic leadership should follow a specific roadmap designed to maintain and expand technology value in a logical and sequential way. During the selection process, each prospective company should be asked to share their product development roadmap.
That roadmap should display both a past – how did product lines arrive at their current state – and a future. After reviewing a company’s product development roadmap, a customer should ask themselves – do the past and current product lines extrapolate into a future technology I feel comfortable with? Beyond the product development road map, potential customers should look for tangible signs of active product development, including:
- Consistent & Timely Major Releases: does the company have a proven history of consistent and timely major product releases? “Consistent” is a key attribute of disciplined software development. Have release dates been essentially the same over the past several years? If not, are any variances small enough to still allow customers to accurately incorporate them in their own automation plans? “Timely” is a key measurement of product investment and innovation. With an innovative technology like RPA, major releases should occur annually.
- Frequent Minor Releases: does the company support major releases with minor releases that occur at least quarterly or, ideally, monthly? With emerging technologies, frequent releases should be a continuous source of minor – but often quite valuable – enhancements. A dearth of minor releases is a cautionary circumstance, it can signal insufficient resources (money, people, or both) to simultaneously develop both release types.
Part 2 will complete selection criteria for a company’s Technology Leadership – covering innovation and adaptability – then move to the areas of Customer Commitment and Company Credibility.