Open Source Adds Dimensions to Robotic Process Automation

March 23, 2021  |  Andrew Dvirnyk

In recent years, our IBA Group engineers and development teams have seen a major increase in interest related to Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA appeals to businesses across industries for a variety of reasons. First, and in many ways, most importantly, RPA is easy to use. However, as much as RPA is an easy-to-use solution, it is not a simple one to put in place. In part because of its power, and because it touches so many facets of your organization, when working with RPA solutions, you are bound to encounter complexities at every stage. Those complexities are resolved with the right guide. But not everyone has that.

Enter our IBA Group. We have a wealth of use cases for business process automation spanning company sizes, industries, and countries. Our teams, led by veteran engineers, have automated more than 500 processes since 2016. This is significant. As other companies were still discovering what RPA is, we at IBA Group were already using it to bring value, efficiencies, and cost savings to our clients.

How Fast is RPA Growing?

According to the internationally recognized research and advisory company, Gartner, RPA is the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market. In fact, Gartner estimates 85% of big and large companies will deploy some form of Robotic Process Automation.

This speaks to the benefits and opportunities of RPA, of course. What it also does is gives organizations looking for RPA solutions a word of caution. Namely, not all RPA solutions are equal. And not every company that you engage with to provide Robotic Process Automation comes with the expertise, commitment to excellence, and years of experience that IBA Group has.

Let’s take a moment to explore some of what our years of experience have taught us about RPA and the future of automation for businesses of all types, across industries.

Open Source RPA

First, we look at a situation that is not unique. Just like with most popular software, there is a push to develop open source RPA. Up until fairly recently, open source for popular software solutions often came with a lack of fully functional solutions. This means that, until recently, open source the RPA ecosystem was relatively immature at best.

However, we are witnessing a variety of changes and improvements that lead us to believe that the future of open source RPA is bright.

So, what is changing in the open source RPA ecosystem, and why do we expect to see significant improvements for your business in the short and long term? Once again, our confidence comes from our experience. And we are privileged to share our experience with a variety of organizations looking to improve their operations through automation. In order to do that, you need to know where to start and how to grow.

Sometimes, the easiest way to get to these answers is to explore the challenges that you are facing when making RPA solutions decisions. We walk through some of those challenges here, and outline some of the ways that we help you to overcome those challenges, save time and money, and improve operations.

Top RPA Platforms

Our engineers and developers have years of expertise working with a variety of RPA tech stacks. Our clients benefit from that expertise in a variety of ways, from cost savings to efficiencies, to all the value that comes with smooth, stress-free transitions to automation solutions.

The top RPA platforms include Automation Anywhere, UIPath, BluePrism, and Workfusion. These platforms are popular for a reason. They offer powerful solutions that fit a range of specific and complex needs. Now, as is the case with most popular, high performing software, each of these top RPA platforms also comes with high licensing costs. And further, choosing (and paying for) a top solution does not guarantee successful RPA deployment across your organization.

What is the ROI on RPA?

Before we talk deployment, let’s take a careful look at cost. It is important to note that, according to Deloitte, if you are a small or medium enterprise (SME), you may expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 – $15,000, for one bot. Yet, one bot is never enough. Consider this: most enterprise organizations are likely to need as many as 500 robots for a complete RPA solution. That amounts to an expected expenditure of around $20 million.

So, is it worth it? What kind of ROI can the typical SME expect from a $20 million investment in RPA solutions? There are a few factors that help answer this question. For one, look at the impact on human capital spending. In the scenario we just described, in which your company invests in a comprehensive RPA solution to the tune of 500 bots, you are looking at potentially saving the cost of training, salaries, and benefits for upwards of one thousand employees. Depending on your own numbers, you can expect to save around five times the amount that you invest in the RPA solution.

Making Sense of Pricing Models

As HFS Research points out, RPA software pricing and licensing models are notoriously difficult to understand. Let’s take a moment to simplify it so you can start making the best decisions for your enterprise.

First, we look at the breakdown of separately licensed modules. Typically, the technology set is broken down into modules that are licensed separately. Each of these modules has a specific use. Some might be bot dashboards. Others are the bot builders and bot orchestrators. And finally, others are the hubs for analytics related to the bots.

When it comes to licensing models, these may be annual or perpetual. Or, RPA licensing models can be consumption based or structured as SaaS. In addition to these differences, licensing costs vary between unattended and attended automation, as well as the number of users you have, the number of bots you have, and the number of machines you have, along with their run-time.

Despite what your budget needs may be, you should also recognize that many RPA vendors force bot and/or license minimums. These complexities can be significant barriers to RPA adoption. Here, our goals are aligned with yours. We work to make it as easy as possible for COEs to control technology costs. At the same time, we improve automation capabilities across your organization.

RPA Platform Capabilities

In addition to making sense of pricing structures and licensing, platform capabilities are an important piece of the RPA puzzle that you need to understand and clarify.

Despite their popularity and their significant expense, in some cases, the top RPA platforms offer limited functionally. Functionality limits affect code debugging and bug fixing. This means that you can expect a significant investment of time and resources whenever you want to program something new.

That means more complexity, more time, and more cost related to the investment you made with the objective to make your operation run more smoothly and efficiently. This is a problem. And it is a problem we know how to solve.

Need for Fully Functional Open Source RPA Solutions

Among the problems we solve is addressing the lack of fully functional open source solutions on the market. Does this mean there is no way to DIY RPA solutions? Not exactly. Limited solutions are available. However, limited is certainly a key word here!

Yes, you can find different limited solutions to make you own RPA. However, these are not centralized solutions. As such, you cannot scale to meet your evolving needs. Further, there is no standard of support to help you grow and to resolve errors and initiate repairs.

Resolving Errors

There is no doubt that Robotic Process Automation is the future, and that it is an exciting and worthwhile investment for your organization to make. While this is really good news for all of us who believe in the power of technology to transform the ways we do business, it also means that you are bound to encounter flashy sales presentations that neglect the complexities we exposed in this discussion.

So many of these approaches, that are looking to grab your attention and your investment, create an illusion of a user-driven model that can be scaled to fit the scope of enterprise needs.

However, this is not really the case. In fact, it is the opposite. If you choose the wrong open source RPA solution, or elect to use one of the popular RPA solutions without the guidance of experienced RPA professionals, you encounter process automations that are prone to errors. And these errors compound when in-house business users who lack the necessary development skills attempt to resolve or work around them.

Ultimately, you need to select, implement, and maintain RPA solutions with the guidance of a trusted, experienced advisor who brings the business insight and programming power necessary to turn automation investments into essential, money-making solutions for your business now and for the future. That all starts with hard-won development knowledge and a commitment to engineering excellence.

In our next article, we take a closer look at how IBA Group puts developers first to automate everywhere.

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