Which is the best Robotic Process Automation tool in the market now?

You might also be interested in the following article: Which is Better - Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere or UiPath? A Look at the Leading Robotic Process Automation Software Providers

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There has been a lot of interest in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), especially in the last couple of years. Many organizations are now seriously evaluating RPA, as part of their broader digital transformation strategy.

As a result of this keen demand, there has been a proliferation of RPA software vendors, arguably more than the market can currently absorb. It is also important to note that many of these vendors have limited operating histories and track records. For example, according to one study, 42% of the vendors surveyed have had their first client implementation only in the last 5 years.

This therefore begs the burning question – which is the latest and greatest RPA tool in the market right now?

To be sure, this is always going to be rather subjective. Different folks are likely to have their own opinions and preferences. Customer checks seem to confirm our suspicions that there is no clear winner at this juncture.

Your chosen RPA tool must be “fit for purpose”

We believe that the overarching consideration has to be “fit for purpose”. Choosing the right tool to automate the right process and supported by the right people.

This is somewhat analogous to buying a car. If your main objective is to travel from point A to B safely, a Toyota will do just fine. On the other hand, if you like to drive with speed and finesse, then a Ferrari might appeal strongly to you.

To ensure that your chosen RPA tool aligns with your organization’s objectives, it may be prudent to first conduct a product evaluation prior to any full deployment. Typically, this evaluation is performed as part of a RPA Proof-of-Concept or Pilot.

What are the evaluation criteria for a RPA tool?

Based on our interactions with clients, below are some of the important factors that you need to take into consideration in your buying decision:

1. Commercial model

This is number one on this list for a good reason. The vendor’s pricing structure and licensing model has a direct impact on your return on investment. Ceteris paribus, vendors that offer perpetual, concurrent licenses offer a distinct competitive advantage by helping to keep your opex down.

Some vendors have also started to support concurrent execution of multiple processes within a single robot (as compared to sequential processing). This is potentially a game-changer in our opinion as it optimizes the number of robot licenses required. We are definitely keeping a close watch on this.

2. Deployment options

Here, we are looking to see if the vendor can support both attended and unattended automation on the same platform. We will not go into the differences between this two modes here, but suffice to say, support for both will increase the automation opportunities, and hence payback, within your organization.

3. Governance & security

The importance of governance and security can never be overemphasized, especially when you are offloading sensitive work to the robots. This ranges from the obvious, such as robust authentication and authorization for both users and robots, granular Access Control List, credentials store and many more. Other distinguishing features include Maker-Checker feature (essentially replicating the four eyes principle), Process Lifecycle Management and even running sensitive processes with a ‘secure’ screen.

4. Exception handling

The more complicated your process is, the increased likelihood that you will encounter some exceptions – basically unexpected events or errors that occur during the operation of an automation. Unfortunately, despite best intentions, exceptions are sometimes unavoidable. Hence, it is important that the RPA tool can handle any exceptions gracefully and robustly. The more granular the exception handling mechanism is, the better control you have over your robotic operations.

5. Maintenance & support

This is an important consideration, and one that is frequently being overlooked. Supposed that you have deployed a global workforce of unattended robots running 24/7 across datacentres in multiple locales. To ensure you meet the required Service Level Agreements, it is critical that your vendor has a follow-the-sun support model. On the other hand, we find that access to local support, whether through the vendors themselves and their appointed partners, is desirable for cases of attended automation.

6. Ease of use

RPA that is so easy, every employee can use it – this is one of the major attractions of RPA. Tools that are code-free, and have a modern Graphical User Interface and drag-and-drop functionalities are desirable. They help to shorten the learning curve of the end users and increase the speed-to-deployment.

7. Vendor roadmap

RPA is a rapidly evolving field. There are already mentions from some vendors of RPA 2.0 and RPA 3.0. In addition, many vendors are also moving rapidly into the cognitive space with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence capabilities. As such, it is important to understand the vendor’s vision and strategy, and how that aligns with your organization’s roadmap.

To be sure, the above list is not meant to be exhaustive. Certainly, companies should tailor the above evaluation criteria according to their own unique requirements. For example, if your organization uses Citrix extensively, then perhaps strong image recognition and processing capabilities should be one of the key factors.

Perhaps somewhat controversial to some, we have not included product features as one of the evaluation criteria. The main reason is that our experience indicate that in terms of core functionalities and features, the leading vendors tend to converge rather than diverge. In other words, there is not much to choose between them in this aspect.

The democratization of RPA

The good news is that many vendors are now offering free software for people to try out, providing you with an invaluable opportunity to find out what works best for you. Notable examples include UiPath, WorkFusion and many others.

Lastly, for those of you who prefer working with a technology consultant to identify the right RPA tool, one useful tip is to choose a partner who is vendor-agnostic. After all, you do not want to pay big bucks to your consultant to conduct a pseudo-evaluation exercise and at the end of it all, they recommend a vendor which is most commercially profitable for them, not you!

Good automating.

You might also be interested in the following article: Which is Better - Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere or UiPath? A Look at the Leading Robotic Process Automation Software Providers

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