By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software
Making the switch from manual processes to robotic process automation is a journey that brings up a lot of questions and considerations. No matter how large or complex your organization, the right solution can integrate seamlessly, boost efficiency and save you money.
But wasting time and money on the wrong automation solution is a mistake that doesn’t need to be made.
Fresh from the publication of Ovum’s report ‘The Value Proposition of Redwood Robotics Software’, we’ve listed just a few of the key considerations to bear in mind when you compare different robotics solutions. Be sure to read the full white paper report for deeper insights.
The most common mistake: Confusing desktop RPA with real robotics
Redwood’s platform integrates and interfaces at a system level to provide a far higher percentage (typically 90% or above) of robotization of manual tasks.
To achieve this it combines a variety of different features that don’t rely on merely replicating human activity and instead focusses on automating efficient processes.
In contrast, classic desktop RPA tools integrate at the user interface level, leading to frequent errors and the need for reprogramming any time there are design changes of the screens. In addition, desktop RPA tools don’t scale well. Each package requires virtualized hardware and software licenses.
The typical results of ‘automation’ through desktop RPA is usually around 10% - 30% levels of automation.
The difference between a holistic approach to robotics versus desktop RPA is huge.
Full automation requires the robotics software to interface with a variety of ERP and other on-premises systems, but also hybrid cloud environments, pure cloud-based applications and external websites – such as when registering a new supplier and performing a web check against a supplier blacklist
Many of these processes can be fully robotized as part of a truly scalable, software-agnostic solution. But not by desktop RPA alone.
Don’t be fooled by the demo
A key driving force in robotics implementation is cost – both of rollout and total cost of ownership (TCO). But don’t be fooled by the slick demos you’ll see and promises that can’t be substantiated.
Time and again, we hear stories from customers about RPA tools that promise the Earth in demos but fall apart in a live production environment. Or that show good utility in simple setups but are cost prohibitive and resource intensive when companies try to scale.
The kicker here is that if you choose desktop RPA instead of truly robotized solutions, the work (and cost) at the start of the journey is comparable but ends with a far lower number of automated processes and a much more complex and costly setup to manage.
A key difference with robotized solutions is the ability to accurately predict cost simply by working out how many manual processes can be automated.
Any reputable robotics vendor will work with you to show you how to document processes and break each one down as part of the pitching phase in order to achieve accurate rollout and TCO estimation.
When you approach the automation of complex processes across departments, geographies and cost centers, a vital piece of the puzzle is how those processes are deployed and managed.
While desktop RPA solutions might have some basic templates, they typically require significant time and expense to deploy. Each robot for each task needs to be programmed extensively and frequently reprogrammed when they break due to upstream UI changes.
In contrast, Redwood delivers thousands of pre-built plug-and-play best practice process robots that customers can use and drag and drop to build their robotised processes. Or use as starting point to build their own robots.
This means you can deploy in as little as just a few weeks and just as important, you don’t need a team of technicians to keep them running.
Management and orchestration
When you deploy a desktop RPA solution the total staff headcount will likely fall. But the end result is that you replace manual tasks carried out by lower-skilled employees with automation that requires constant attention from fewer higher-skilled employees. It’s like buying a puppy that never grows up and never learns to look after itself.
It’s this lack of extensibility, pre-built intelligence and demand for complex management that trips other systems up when it comes to cross-process orchestration. Without this straight through process coordination and synchronization – that simply can’t be done by classic RPA tools – the management of hundreds or thousands of global processes is complicated and expensive.
Consider activities like asset management, which frequently requires the co-ordination of hundreds of interdependent and globally-distributed processes.
The ability to automate those dependencies (and to cope with service level agreements) is far beyond the scope of traditional RPA. And even if it was possible you’d have to individually program each of those tasks and manage those interdependencies.
Ultimately, when you consider robotization, the long-term view is critical to extracting the true value from the investment you’re making – tools that only work perfectly on a single process in a demo just won’t cut it in a production environment.
For full robotization, you need inbuilt workflow management that doesn’t require technical expertise, easily configurable robots, and the ability to integrate with platforms and systems in a variety of different ways.
Pure desktop based automation might have seemed like a good idea once, but savvy customers or customers who have trialled classic RPA tools are now much wiser and understand that robot efficiency is about getting rid of repetitive and inefficient human process, not just replicating it with a computer.
But don’t take our word for it. Download Ovum’s white paper and find out why you should commit to a true process-centric approach to robotic process automation. And discover the difference between first generation RPA tools versus a flavour of robotics that puts the process at the heart of what it does.
Get in touch with Redwood to find out more.