40 Essential Selection Criteria to Choose an RPA Platform – Part 4 of 5
The ease with which your developers can code; your platform’s change management and governance capabilities; the financial strength of the platform vendor; the depth and breath of the RPA platform; as well as what other customers think, are all key considerations when selecting a game changing RPA platform.
Below are the fourth set of key criteria that should be considered as you select and score your RPA platform. This follows on from part 3 of this #RebootRPA series.
1. Ease with which your developers AND your citizen developers can code is key to your truly expanding RPA across your organisation. Key also is the ‘controllability’ of that code (i.e. code governance). Coding or scripting should be reasonably simple, after a short period of training on code standards, for both techies and non techies.
Code needs to follow organisational standards (these need developed and rigorously monitored by your Robotic Center Of Expertise | Intelligent Automation Centre of Expertise) and be reviewed by centrally by an expert coder before distribution. The easier it is to build process automation, both simple and complex processes, the more likely RPA is to scale and scale affordably. If you need specialist RPA coder talent to develop your program, then expect to scale developer numbers, as well as developer recruitment and training cost in tandem with the growth of your digital transformation program. Your RPA platform should allow you to build reusable components. Unless businesses think in terms of reusable components then they run the risk of waking having learned none of the lesson’s learned from the past (i.e. they will have created a new legacy platform built to meet their immediate needs, not the long term needs of the business). The pace of change from traditional to digital businesses requires businesses to think forward and design reusable code, business processes, data and infrastructure components to compete now and in the future.
2. Reference industry feedback on RPA product and vendor – how satisfied were other customers with the product? Don’t just ask your vendor for a reference site as none are going to pick one which was a failure but look around to get a range of opinions from folks who are using the software in live environments.
‘You don’t want your RPA program to be just another IT project which is constantly delayed and the customers do not hear or see from the team in 6 months. RPA needs to be fast paced and delivered quickly so ease of use and speed of coding is extremely important. You want to ensure that the tool allows developers to build reusable objects which can be utilised in the future for quicker development times.’Matthew Coffey, RPA Delivery Lead at Pearson
3. Financial strength of vendor – don’t jump into bed with a vendor who may disappear. There are a great number of vendors appearing in the market chasing private equity cash and whilst the opportunity for vendor organisations is huge not all will survive financially. Consolidation is likely as is the exit of companies who cannot make money.
“Automation is like the digital wild west…there’s a gold rush going on and everyone is trying to grab their piece of the land. That means there will likely be some successful vendors, but many more failures. Favour those with large market share, or an established presence, longevity and track record predating the mass hype experienced over the last 2 years”Paul Arnold, Head of Product and Development at Cortex Intelligent Automation
4. Scalability of product – Can your RPA platform scale as your scale both your business and your ambition? Does it work on the cloud to allow you to flexibly ramp up?
“Scale really applies to every element of the RPA customer experience. The product itself of course has to scale from a technical perspective, but what good will that do you if the pricing doesn’t scale along with it? Or the support? You need tight alignment between all the key elements of the customer experience to make the experience itself scale. That’s the key – you have to look at the whole and not just one or two parts.”John Grancarich, Vice President Of Product Strategy
5. Code integration options – If you want to extend your RPA platform then common application integrations such as Windows .net framework; API integration capabilities; ability to embed code; ability to access external scripts; etc. are all key. The more integration options available to you, the more you can do with your chosen RPA platform.
“Having the option of the APIs integration in your RPA platform, both REST and SOAP, is vital. The digital workers most of the times are used as orchestrators of a wider business process and for that reason the API integration should be always available and preferred over the UI automation.”Konstantinos Vogiatzakis, Global RPA Lead at Babylon Health
6. Depth and breadth of actual product – does the RPA tool have a lot of features and functionality that will serve you well this year, next year and the year after? Is there an ecosystem of partner add-on products that will enable you to deliver an end to end organisational digital transformation program by downloading assets or seamlessly integrating with other applications that can be incorporated into your digital program (e.g. RPA, AI, ChatBots, NLP, ML, etc.)?
“The key here is looking not just at what the product does now, but at the investment that a company is making back into it’s research and development. How many releases do they undertake each year? What percentage of their turnover goes back into R&D? How many new features has the platform seen in the last year? How quick have they been to address gaps in their product? Are they developing their own native technologies? Moreover, are they moving in a direction and at a velocity that matches or surpasses yours?”Edward Halsey, RPA Enterprise Account Manager
7. Change management and governance capabilities – governance and change control are two massive considerations needed to manage your processes as you scale forwards. Your process selection, change control, governance and business case tracking process over time are key in ensuring you deliver real value from your RPA platform investment. We live in a digital age where IT driven change had never been faster, nor will it ever be slower again. Having excellent change control and governance programs in place to support deliver this change is going to key for RPA and intelligent automation success ahead.
“Change is going to happen, so you have to be ready for it. We asked our members for their attitude towards innovation and 90 per cent said that it was a business essential. So don’t expect business as usual. How many said innovation was important if you’re already a market leader? Zero – so change and innovation are issues for every business, big, small and mid-sized.”Ian Hawkins, Editor, PEX Network
8. Post implementation partnering / support model – finding your first processes to automate is the easiest part of your journey. However, organisations often struggle to get past a POC or past their first 5 or 10 robots. Help is required to grow yet so far vendors have only been truly been focused on their first licence sales. Check what support your vendor offers on an enduring basis and score them low if none is available. A website with FAQs, training materials and articles is not a post implementation services!
“Find a vendor who has a team behind them who are dedicated to support making your RPA program as successfully as possible. It is in both your, and the vendors, best interests to scale. It is a win-win situation when this happens. Think beyond the sale, and consider how you will scale!”Gourav Datta, RPA and Intelligent Automation Delivery Lead
Selecting the right RPA tool or indeed intelligent automation tools is key to the success of your RPA journey. Get your tool selection right and you give yourself every chance of success. Get your tool of choice wrong and your costly business error may result in a loss of money and indeed your job.
What do you consider to be the most important criteria for selecting an RPA platform?
This article is part of a #RebootRPA series. #RebootRPA is a series of articles written by real world experts to help you overcome the challenges of selecting, implementing and scaling an RPA platform.
- RPA Reboot: RPA 101
- 14 rules for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation (AI) success
- If you are not willing to go all in, then don’t put on your RPA swimsuit.
- The biggest lie told to RPA customers – 50 robots equals success
- 40 essential selection criteria to choose an RPA platform part 1 of 5
- 40 essential selection criteria to choose an RPA platform part 2 of 5
- 40 essential selection criteria to choose an RPA platform part 3 of 5
- 40 essential selection criteria to choose an RPA platform part 4 of 5
- 40 essential selection criteria to choose an RPA platform part 5 of 5
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Note: The views expressed above are my views and not those of my employer.