Automation is becoming business critical. The way in which it is helping organizations increase productivity, cut costs and improve services to customers means it is tabled at many board meetings around the globe. But, as with any emerging technology, it comes in many forms — all of which claim to be the ointment for all your operational ailments. With an ever increasing spread of RPA vendors, claiming advanced capability in ‘Intelligent Automation’, it is difficult to know what solution will truly benefit your business.
So, how do you choose a platform when there isn’t any standard? Every business has a different structure and nuances that only people that work there understand — which means a one size fits all solution isn’t necessarily going to slot in nicely.
While choosing an automation vendor is not easy, there are some essential questions that can help you so you don’t get burnt and your company steps ahead of the competition.
From operational planning to supplier requirements, let’s look at different questions so your business gets the best match.
Interrogating the automation platform
As you set out on your voyage to find an automation platform, resist the urge to rush into deploying departmental, or niche platforms. It will probably deliver quick tactical value for your organization, but you shouldn’t overlook the long term view. It is important to ask a set of questions that will help you to avoid solutions with a mishmash of add-ons, bolt-ons or plug-ins to achieve the desired results. Instead, find a single platform, which doesn’t require a whole new workforce to manage the license agreements and interconnectivity alone. Below are a small selection of questions you should ask, especially when faced with a piecemeal solution:
- Does your organization have the resources to integrate multiple technologies?
- Does the platform require complex understanding to work?
- How will you manage the complex contracting agreements if using multiple vendors?
- How much training will your team need on many different products?
It’s essential to challenge any automation vendor about how they plan to deliver the automation platform and how they support you.
Finding your capability requirements
It is always tempting to get over excited when presented with the opportunity of automation. You don’t want to get lost in a vendor sales discussion - keep your vision for requirements in mind. The best way to keep the discussion on track is to create a clear picture of what you want and how the automation tool is going to be used — with questions similar to the below around capabilities;
- What tasks are your workforce performing day to day at the moment?
- How many of these could be automated with different iterations of automation?
- How would automation impact your business?
- How will this affect your workforce?
What are the key aspects to achieving speed and scale?
Whenever a new platform is acquired within a business the first thing an organization wants to achieve is a return on investment. An automation project is no different — the issue is, how you get there? Firstly, you need to counterbalance the speed of deployment, and secondly, the effective scaling of the platform. The risk of deploying too quickly can mean that you erode value and don’t understand the consequences of your deployments, not to mention the detriment to scaling the solution across your business.
Successful scaling falls under three key areas; what is the breadth of functionality? How is it deployed across a business? And, how it is deployed with your current business structure?
Is the solution built for the future?
You can buy tactically, and short-term, but is that really a good business decision? In some circumstances it could be. You could be deploying automation to fix a niche problem or have a tactical need in a certain department — however, for most this clearly isn’t the ideal way to deploy automation for the future. The main question for future proofing your investment is, how intelligent is the automation platform? Any automation vendor with any merit will be looking at ways to integrate intelligence - and not just integrate it, but also have built in abilities to continually evolve or adapt. Why does this matter? Because it can enable your business to think strategically and have the power to deliver a resource anywhere across departments, or operations. By deploying in this nature, confidence can be gained in the platform and you can address tactical changes in the short term, and the long term all under one solution.
By asking the right questions you can discover what platform will best fit your organization. What will turn the project into a business strategy? In order to reach this end goal, it is good to have a set of thorough questions depending on your business needs, and investigate every aspect of the vendors offering and delivery method.
For a more in-depth look at the questions to ask your automation vendor download a copy of Essential Questions when Choosing your Automation Supplier