Software as a service (SaaS) is now ubiquitous in every organization, across any industry. As all companies look to modernize and operate in the cloud, the demand for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) delivered as SaaS, or RPA as a service (RPAaaS), has gained mainstream momentum. RPA as a service is increasingly becoming the technology of choice for business leaders across the C-Suite and departments to transform how work is done drastically. RPA as a service is desirable because of the speed of implementation, fast time to value, and low total cost of ownership (TCO) due to no infrastructure management.
Beyond the obvious cost and ROI benefits, business leaders should include the following criteria in evaluating any RPA-as-a-service solution:
RPA is a technology that has evolved over the last two decades. When it comes to RPA as a service, how RPA has been "SaaS-ified" and brought to the cloud is critical. Cloud-native means that the platform was developed on a microservices architecture to leverage the inherent benefits of the cloud, such as ease of use, automatic updates, faster innovation, scalability, and low TCO.
While cloud-native solutions are built from the ground up, other solutions may be lifted and shifted from on-premises environments to the cloud. While this lift and shift may benefit from being in the cloud, scaling, updates, and maintenance often require the same effort, resources, and cost as an on-premises solution compared to the automatic nature of a cloud-native solution.
Criteria question to ask: Is this solution cloud-native or cloud-hosted?
A single integrated SaaS platform
RPA is at the core of automation, but it's the tip of the iceberg. In addition to RPA, end-to-end automation has a transformative impact across the entire organization, which requires the ability to discover and document processes efficiently; use of the latest AI tools and techniques to understand, extract, and process data from different document types and sources; deliver valuable insights with built-in analytics; deploy digital assistants to streamline employees' daily tasks. The critical factor to consider is how all these crucial capabilities work together in a seamless, integrated way in the cloud versus installing and deploying each functionality separately. With a single, integrated SaaS platform, you can start with what you need and add other capabilities when and where you need.
Criteria question to ask: Can this one platform do everything I need today and in the future?
Ease of use
The easier an RPA solution is to use, the faster you'll achieve time to value. RPA as a service is 100% web-based—this includes all functionality. RPA as a service is quick and easy to set up on the web and accessible to all users via a web browser. One example of fully web-based functionality is bot development. Like any other SaaS application, users can log in and build bots online with low-code, drag-and-drop functionality. Bot development and design using RPA as a service eliminate the need to download local desktop software clients that on-premises or cloud-hosted solutions typically require. This also enables easy collaboration on bot development, better visibility, and ease of management.
Criteria question to ask: Can everything, including complete bot development, be done on a web browser?
Ability to scale
Scale can be considered in two ways when evaluating RPA-as-a-service solutions: the technical ability to add capacity and efficiently manage bot workloads as volume demands increase and the ability to scale the power of automation across your organization.
With a cloud-native RPA-as-a-service solution, the technical ability to scale vertically or horizontally to support surges in automation workloads or growth in automated processes is effortless and built-in. You don't have to invest in infrastructure as you need to scale. You don't have to interrupt your automation program to add capacity. You can easily plan for any upcoming volume bursts and automatically adjust your workloads on a day-to-day basis. As you add lines of businesses and departments to your automation program, you don't have to worry about running out of space.
Bringing the benefits of automation to the entire enterprise means empowering more employees to build and use bots. RPA as a service can easily accommodate citizen developers with access to bot development to get more processes automated more quickly by subject matter experts. Additionally, the ability to deploy interactive digital assistants across the web, mobile, and desktop for employees at large to use can only be done at scale via RPA as a service.
Criteria question to ask: Can this solution scale on demand to meet the changing needs of my business?
RPA as a service provides a multi-layered approach to security. From secure cloud operations to data management to application security to role-based access management. Among the security standards to look for in RPA as a service are essential certifications provided by thorough third-party industry-recognized auditors, including ISO 27001 and SOC 1 and 2 Type 1 and 2 certifications.
ISO 27001 certifies that a provider is in full compliance in how they manage information assets in their cloud services. The level of security that this credential assures means that you can automate processes with confidence that your sensitive data will be protected.
SOC 1 and SOC2 certifications ensure that a provider's internal controls meet financial regulatory compliance and security compliance across several different audit requirements. These demonstrate provider's reliability in their practices to deliver core services, such as RPA as a service in this case.
Criteria question to ask: Does this platform have comprehensive SecOps and CloudOps security monitoring and defense in addition to ISO 27001 and SOC 1 & 2 certifications?
As business evolves, so will work and processes. When investing in RPA as a service, it's important to evaluate the solution based on today's business challenges and whether it is flexible and future-proof enough for tomorrow. RPA as a service built on a microservices architecture is adaptable. In conjunction with a CI/CD software development approach, it ensures the platform is always up-to-date and continuously improving. With RPA as a service, you always have access to the latest technology— you don't have to worry about upgrading to a new version or platform because innovation and capabilities are delivered automatically to you when available.
Criteria question to ask: How difficult will it be to maintain this platform over the next several years as my business evolves?