Robotic Process Automation - How To Get Started?
Forrester Research recently published their latest Wave analysis on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The research measures the strategy of each RPA supplier – marking each as weaker or stronger – then compares this to the actual present-day offering. So there is no judgment based on hype or what might be coming in the future.
The good news is that none of the major suppliers have a weak strategy and weak offering – all the companies are offering an attractive service. However, even the Forrester summary lists fourteen different suppliers, and half a dozen of them are categorized as leaders – how do you get started with so many options?
First, you need to find some advice from someone that has already delivered RPA projects, so they can brief you on what is possible and which of the suppliers might be best for your specific problem. This is where a company like IBA has a great advantage because they have delivered hundreds of RPA solutions using all the leading software – so this is a great way to start.
Many executives start by directly approaching the leading RPA software companies, describing their problem, and seeing if the supplier can quickly come up with a pilot project that demonstrates their approach to building a solution.
The advantage is that this approach is free, but the big disadvantage is that once the pilot has been built then you will be locked into the solution and software offered by this company alone – it is unlikely that you can encourage several software companies to all build pilots. They will invest the time and effort in building an initial solution only if there is a strong chance that it will help them win the project.
For all these reasons I do believe that it makes sense to ask a trusted systems implementer for advice before you go to the software companies. If they have delivered many different systems then they will know the advantages and disadvantages of each system and how it might work for your solution.
A few more general points I would suggest are:
1. Do your research: do check what analysts like Forrester and HfS are saying about the RPA suppliers – the analysts have insight into how the market is developing.
2. Use the trials: you may be able to try out trial versions of various systems, just to get a feel for the strengths of each system.
3. Experiment: don’t lock yourself entirely in with a single vendor right from the start. Try out some small projects with competing systems just to see what your team finds most useful.
4. Workshop: use workshops to really define what needs to be automated, what could be achieved, how long would it take? Create a plan that also has a benchmark – you know what will be improved and by how much.
RPA can appear to be a complex and expensive investment and it is easy to get locked in with a single supplier unless you take steps at the start of your journey to experiment and define how you want to use RPA. Do some research, think carefully about the type of solutions your business needs, and then work with an experienced partner to select the best option. There are a lot of choices in the market right now, as the Forrester research shows, but sometimes you may need a niche player rather than the market leader. It’s much easier to venture on this journey if you talk to someone that has already implemented RPA solutions in real companies.
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