What are the alternatives to RPA and are they any good?

Jun 10, 2019 | RPA Blog

Over the last couple of topics, we’ve discussed what RPA is, dispelled any fears of the process and listed the benefits to companies. If you’re still unfamiliar with these, please go back and refresh your memory. Once you’re familiar with RPA and how it works, the question that follows is, are there any alternatives to RPA?

The answer is yes.

There are numerous ways you can automate a process, and these alternatives are already being implemented across a wide range of industries, in every part of their organisations. In this article, we’ll discuss two different options to RPA; applications and BPM software.Applications – the perfect alternative?Organisations use loads of applications day in, day out. This could be in the form of managing their Outlook contacts or managing more complex business processes within an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Just like RPA, applications are used to increase productivity by automating tasks. They sound the perfect solution, don’t they? Predominantly if a company has already implemented them. Not necessarily; although applications are designed to increase productivity like RPA, they can only do this on standardised tasks which benefit the whole business industry and their customer bases rather than the individual organisation’s unique processing needs.

Sadly, you can’t customise applications for an organisation’s unique processing needs.BPM software – supporting the automation process of applicationsIf applications aren’t that great on their own, what’s another alternative to RPA? Introducing: Business Process Management (BPM) software. BPM tools can support the automation of processes that run over multiple applications. BPM software is beneficial for businesses because it uses a variety of methods to achieve this automation.

If you’re thinking, that’s great! BPM software is for me! Hold your horses; there are a few things you need to consider. The downside to BPM tools is they’re expensive to acquire and maintain; a specialised team of staff are required to maintain the system on an ongoing basis so in most cases, where a smaller budget is involved, it might not be a viable solution.Things to rememberOverall, it doesn’t matter how a business automates the process if you follow these golden rules:

• Research how much it costs in licence and services

• Know the length of time for implementation

• Keep a realistic figure in mind for maintenance of the system

• Make sure the system is secure and reliable

With some crucial points to consider for applications and BPM software, RPA still comes top of my list for the most sensible way to automate business processes. For example, a business which has been built from the ground up over the last 10 to 15 years will have started with basic tasks, basic software and minimal staff. As time goes on, the business expands and adds new applications, processes and new team members into the mix. The company works and ticks along nicely, but it’s inefficient and slightly chaotic from the outside looking in. The reason this example is inefficient is that it would require numerous changes to company systems at regular intervals. Each time a change occurred, it may cause the breakdown of daily productivity (which isn’t what you want at all).

Anyone previously involved with changing a company’s ERP or critical business system will agree that the cost of these changes and the amount of effort involved mean businesses tend to hold off rectifying issues until the very last minute. Why RPA trumps the restSo, there you have it, the alternatives to RPA and why RPA has plenty of advantages over them; with RPA, there aren’t any obligations or special requirements. Bots don’t require the company to change their system or business processes to facilitate automation. RPA bots allow any company, in any situation to quickly and efficiently utilise the power of automation by putting the existing systems in front of the bot. Great, isn’t it?

However, before you think RPA is a magic potion that’s a doddle to implement, think again. It requires careful planning and a well thought out implementation process, so if it’s something you’re considering, it’s best to seek professional and experienced partners. 

David Griffith

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