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Blog | Mar 8, 2021

How to Select an RPA Vendor

RPA 101 blog post: How to select an RPA vendor
Table of Contents

Top 6 Checklist: Find the right RPA and Technology Solution Provider

Selecting a robotic process automation (RPA) vendor can be confusing with all the options on the market.

Do you need a platform to support integrations from third-party applications for best-of-breed document processing? Or natural language processing? Or would you prefer an all-in-one solution that reduces issues, but may not meet more complex business needs? 

Many RPA vendors offer entry-level versions of their platforms that allow you to learn how to perform basic automations. But will the platform enable you to grow into more complete solutions when your enterprise matures?

To complicate things further, there are several questions you’ll want to ask before choosing an RPA software:

    • Will it run on the desktop or in a secure data center by itself?
    • Will it run in the cloud or on-premises?
    • Will the business drive the adoption, or will IT be responsible for programming the solutions?
    • How secure is the platform?
    • Can the business start small but scale up as it matures?
    • How intelligent is the automation?
    • Are there pre-built connectors with our current systems to help us build complex solutions quickly?
    • Are there easy-to-use drag-and-drop build options for less tech-oriented users?
    • How responsive is the RPA vendor if we need support or help with getting started?

    Getting answers to all these questions will help you make an informed decision about which RPA companies can help you build an effective and scalable intelligent automation (IA) program utilizing the power of artificial intelligence (AI). 

    What Are RPA Tools?

    RPA tools are software solutions that automate tasks in your organization. Enterprise-grade RPA tools are often sold by RPA vendors. However, small-scale open-source options are available, though often require additional expense and preparation before starting. Some key aspects of RPA tools can include user interface interaction, API integration and rules-based workflow automation.

    While the automation solutions vary between companies, many will offer a free trial to allow enterprises to test out their product and see what works for them. More in-depth automation solutions will help organizations tailor their IA to their specific business needs for easier scaling down the road.

    Intelligent automation is an AI-powered group of technologies that include process automation solutions like RPA, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), among others. RPA automates processes by deploying RPA bots to perform repetitive tasks, freeing employees to focus on higher-value work.

    Click here to learn more about the difference between RPA and IA.

    What is an RPA Vendor?

    RPA software vendors offer RPA and IA software and tools to small, medium and large enterprises, depending on their capabilities. Some may focus on their RPA platforms while others have expanded their offerings to include business process management (BPM), AI and cognitive automation, real-time process analytics and pre-built templates to accelerate implementation.

    How many RPA vendors are there?

    The simple answer is, there are a lot of RPA vendors out there. So it can be helpful to have an idea of what your organization needs while searching for the right fit.

    According to analyst reports from Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Robotic Process Automation, Everest RPA PEAK Matrix® and The Forrester Wave™: Robotic Process Automation, there are around 15-23 RPA providers currently leading the market—including us at SS&C Blue Prism, with our extensive intelligent automation platform!

    When considering an RPA vendor, you should look at more than just the software—most vendors can deliver that at a basic level. What you need to ask is, ‘Will this vendor help create individual business solutions, and will they help my business grow along the digital transformation journey?’

    How Do You Select an RPA Vendor? 

    Now, let’s take a deeper look at the six key points to consider in your RPA vendor checklist. 

    1 - Attended and unattended bots in automation

    Some RPA solutions run on a desktop as an automation helper for an employee, while others don’t require human intervention. The option that works with the employee is attended automation. The person at the desktop can quickly run an automation script that reduces the mundane tasks people generally don’t like to do. These types of automation helpers or ‘digital workers’ are generally referred to as attended automation because they work alongside the employee at their workstation.  An attended automation solution would allow a person to run a script and log in to all their applications at the beginning of the day–or search for data across multiple websites or applications at the same time. This type of automation uses the person’s login credentials to quickly accomplish routine tasks to save time. Other solutions are designed to run without requiring a person to initiate and monitor the automation while it operates. This option is unattended automation since people don’t have to be involved in the automation activities. They run somewhere other than the person’s desktop.  Like human employees, each digital worker (or software robot) is assigned a workstation and credentials to log into systems. Like human employees, these digital workers have specific access and permissions within each system.  This permits detailed auditing of work done by robots and people separately. Any work done by a digital worker is certain to follow the process outlined for it, without any potential accidental intervention by a person. This also permits digital workers to process sensitive data without concern for potential exposure to unauthorized viewers.

    2 - Cloud vs. on-premises infrastructure

    Building a flexible automation program may require selecting one or more implementation types to support the desired outcomes. 

    For example, a financial services bank managing large transactions may want to protect the automation environment by managing the platform behind their firewalls inside one of their secured data centers. However, that same bank may also want to automate interactions with their clients through a chatbot or mobile application, requiring the automation-based platform to scale quickly to accommodate demand through cloud deployment. 

    In each case, the platform should be flexible enough to offer native capabilities to support both scenarios.

    3 - Business-driven vs. IT-led

    RPA vendors can either engage business leaders directly with ‘no code required’ solutions, allowing trained business users to build automations directly to support their functional areas, or leverage ‘low code’ solutions that are driven through the IT department to develop automations. 

    Empowering the business to quickly create solutions that address specific processes can greatly speed up the adoption of the RPA solution and lead to big organizational benefits.

    While IT teams are more experienced with the change control and programming aspect of the systems, it’s important to work together with IT to understand the impacts of automation on current system loads, plus the implications related to governing the automation program. 

    Building a Center of Excellence (CoE) that engages both business and IT teams is an effective way to create real value through automation.

    4 - Security and scale for RPA and IA

    Many RPA vendors offer the promise of quick and easy implementation for your automation program. While this may seem attractive, you could also open your organization up to additional risks.

    When reviewing RPA vendors, find out how the platform protects the organization while offering flexible and secure IA deployment. Make sure the system provides an activity log to validate everything the digital worker is working on.

    Securing the system is essential, but you’ll want a solution from an RPA vendor who can deliver both simplicity and scale. Successful automation programs grow quickly. Ensure the RPA vendor you select lets you grow quickly and supports the ongoing needs of your business. Look for an RPA vendor with a track record of success scaling up their clients’ IA programs.

    5 - Intelligent automation across technology

    Building simple automation is something every RPA vendor can do. But how can you ensure you’re getting the IA you want? The most reliable RPA vendors offer both built-in features and a platform for connecting to the most popular technology platforms.

    This allows you to start with less complicated automations, then build gradually using either the built-in solutions for document processing, front-office interactions and contact centers or expand to connectors that offer limitless possibilities. 

    Intelligent automation and hyperautomation expand the opportunity to interact with systems, using AI and machine learning platforms that you can mix and match to provide solutions tailored to your business needs. This powerful flexibility to grow—from modest automations to very complex and compelling solutions—is the benefit of working with a mature RPA vendor.

    6 - Getting help when you need it

    As you start your automation journey, make sure your RPA provider can support you. This includes training and access to an active community of like-minded users and experts to help with questions about implementation, process designs and automation operations.

    The most reputable RPA vendors will be available 24/7 for enterprise support, offering you peace of mind as you build your automation program. After all, it’s not enough for you to just invest in the automation software—you also need an RPA vendor willing to invest in your success!

    Where To Go From Here

    Selecting the right RPA vendor requires careful consideration of several key factors. Firstly, organizations must determine whether they need a platform that supports integrations from third-party applications or an all-in-one solution that may have limitations.

    Additionally, assessing factors like deployment options, automation type and whether the approach is business-driven or IT-led, are all crucial.

    Security and scalability are vital concerns, and RPA vendors should offer robust protection while allowing for the rapid growth of your automation program. The vendor’s ability to provide IA that integrates cognitive AI and ML will help your organization go from simple automations and progress to more complex solutions.

    Finally, strong customer support, training and a vibrant user community are useful attributes of a reputable RPA vendor.

    Overall, the success of an automation program depends not just on the software but on partnering with an RPA vendor that invests in the organization’s growth and long-term success.

    Work with us

    Once you’ve considered your checklist of what to look for in an RPA vendor, you may have more ideas of how your enterprise can benefit from a full IA solution. Your digital transformation journey is an evolution of continuous improvement, and SS&C Blue Prism is here to help you from deployment to scaling and beyond.

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