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Five Questions for Your Prospective RPA Partner

By Rosie Lemanek, VP - Finance & Accounting, Sutherland Global Services

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Rosie Lemanek, VP - Finance & Accounting, Sutherland Global Services

There’s a growing agreement that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is more than just the latest tech buzzword; it’s an emerging automation technology that comes with the promise of significant cost savings, performance improvements and data quality benefits. 

The advantages of RPA over traditional automation are clear. The RPA systems mimic human behavior with no change to the existing technology infrastructure, and are technology agnostic, so it works across legacy ERPs and mainframes. In terms of deployment, RPA can be rolled out in days and weeks as opposed to months and years.

“ The RPA systems mimic human behavior with no change to the existing technology infrastructure, and are technology agnostic, so it works across legacy ERPs and mainframes. ”    

What’s a little murkier is how to select an RPA provider. It’s important to know about the costs as well as speed and ease of implementation, but here are an additional five key questions to ask when evaluating your potential partners.

1. Where Have You Done This Before?

A proof-of-concept is nice, but an actual in-the-field working solution is even better. Ask to be shown case studies of where the potential vendor has successfully implemented a Robotic Process Automation solution. Ideally, you will want to see case studies or references that cover the various RPA lifecycle, from rollout to over the one-year mark.

2. How Well Do You Understand My Industry?

In addition to having RPA expertise under their belt, you’ll want a partner that comprehends and is deeply familiar with the nuances of your industry. A robotic solution can address industry-specific business imperatives including regulatory compliance and data management. As well, if you can combine your RPA solution with other horizontal managed solutions, like outsourced finance and accounting services, it provides the ease of a single provider and helps reap greater savings, greater efficiencies and better integration.

3. What’s Your Approach to Identifying Processes for RPA?

With RPA, it’s important not to shy away from tackling complex processes. The technology is much more than a simple point solution, and an end-to-end approach, rather than simply automating on a task-by-task or singular function basis, will maximize the return on investment. By starting with“Crawl, Walk, Run” methodology your organization will be able to realize some quick, tactical wins. This helps build stakeholder buy-in essentials for the strategic transformation needed to create true end-to-end process value.

4. Will You Put Skin in the Game?

Is your potentialRPA provider willing to take a risk for your organization? A true partner will explore new business models that go well beyond delivering on cost savings. How open are they to outcome-based models that will improve your operations and deliver value? Make sure they are willing to invest in the relationship and share the rewards.

5. How Will You Deliver on Innovation?

Before you’ve signed on the dotted line, there is no doubt you’ll hear the word “innovation” a few times. But what does this actually look like in their governance outline? What’s the process for delivering innovation? Get detailed information on how your potential partner will encourage team collaboration and how new ideas for process improvements will be reviewed, discussed and selected. How will process change be mandated, monitored and managed? A culture of continuous improvement needs to be embedded in daily transactions, not reserved for quarterly meetings.