The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Robotic Process - Kofax

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Choosing the Right Robotic Process Automation Solution Your how-to handbook for digitally transforming the way you work

READ… COPY… PASTE… REPEAT… How much time are your employees wasting on repetitive, mind-numbing tasks to collect and input data? For most organizations, the answer is still “far too much.” According to analyst Cognizant, employees spend 22% of their time on repetitive tasks. When it comes to reviewing and inputting data—and copying and pasting between internal and external systems such as websites, portals and enterprise and desktop applications—much of that work could be automated. But most of it isn’t. Cognizant estimates that organizations automate just 25-40% of their workflows.1 And, some analysts state that half of all automation opportunities are being missed.2 The problem isn’t limited to one industry. Half of manufacturing companies still use manual processes to monitor changes and exceptions to their supply chains. Many transportation and logistics companies use manual steps for more than half of their processes.3 More than a third of financial services organizations4 and nearly half of U.S. insurers5 still rely on manual processes. All of that manual effort carries a cost, and not just in terms of labor. The more manual processes an organization relies on, the more likely they’re dealing with sub-par productivity, slow response times, higher error rates and dissatisfied customers and employees. Ensure you’re getting the most value out of your staff and processes by investing in the right robotic process automation solution for you.

Cognizant estimates that organizations automate just 25-40% of their workflows.1 Cognizant Wired 3 LinkedIn 4 Kofax 5 Clear Insights 1

2

CREATE A DIGITAL WORKFORCE More and more organizations now use robotic process automation (RPA) technology to automate the repetitive, manual tasks that are wasting employees’ time and eating away at the bottom line.

RPA is an emerging, cost-effective technology that uses software “robots” and intelligent business rules to mimic the actions that human employees take within applications. That could be looking up and verifying information, or copying and pasting between websites, portals, legacy systems and other data sources. It sounds complicated, but it’s simpler than you might think. Intelligent software robots are easy to design and deploy—requiring no complex APIs or IT involvement. If you can map what an employee is doing to collect and input data, you can create a robot to do it for them, in a few hours, without coding. RPA systems integrate with your existing technology investments and business processes, instead of disrupting them. Effectively, RPA creates a digital workforce that works alongside your employees, freeing them to focus on areas where a human touch really matters. A 2014 PMG IT survey found that 98% of respondents see the automation of business processes as vital to seizing business benefits.6 Deloitte found that 30% of surveyed companies believe process automation is more important to their business than implementing analytical software and cloud computing.7 It’s clear that RPA is becoming an accepted, and vital, priority for modern businesses. So what does this mean for you? Organizations capitalizing on RPA are realizing: • Immediate cost savings of 25-50% • 35-50% higher staff productivity, service levels and capacity • 100% accurate data and a zero error rate8 • Average processing times 30-50% faster9

PMG Deloitte 8 Institute for Robotic Process Automation 9 Virttia 6 7

Know What is at Stake Make no mistake; RPA can make a big, immediate difference to your operations. But here’s the catch: not all RPA solutions are created equal. Some RPA solutions rely heavily on simple desktop recording practices that record the clicks and keystrokes of users. Others require complex deployment models where robots are deployed to desktops versus maintaining and running robots on a centralized server. Simply put, some solutions are simple in nature and lack key enterprise features, and other RPA solutions have adopted an architecture that becomes increasingly difficult to manage as more digital workers (robotic processes) are utilized. So what should you look for in an RPA solution? Here’s the list:

SCALABILITY You want a solution that can scale massively and be managed centrally. Robots that have to be deployed to individual desktops can be problematic in large enterprise deployments when it comes to maintaining hundreds or even thousands of robots. You need to be able to run tens of thousands of robots (automated robotic processes) from a cluster of enterprise servers. Avoid an RPA solution that requires you to deploy robots to a desktop or virtualized environment. Look for an RPA platform that provides an integrated browser engine that allows you to run multiple robots concurrently on a single server versus a single robot executing on a virtualized desktop that requires access to a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer).

SPEED When you want to automate a new task, avoid a solution that requires you to wait weeks for a custom coding effort. You’ll want to design and test new robotic automation processes in a few hours, or less. You should also be able to optimize robots themselves to work quickly—holding data in memory when passing from one source to another or turning off JavaScript for specific steps in a robot that is extracting data from a website. These types of configuration settings can mean a world of a difference in how fast a robot process can execute and complete a task.

RELIABILITY As you roll out robots to automate hundreds of tasks, it’s important the solution you are betting on is reliable and will not make maintaining the system a nightmare. You want a solution that has built-in monitoring and analytics so you can oversee the health of the system, and the robots you have deployed. If unexpected errors do crop up, the solution needs to be able to notify administrators for key alerts, such as when a robot fails or a key application is unavailable. If the data that a robot is processing is incomplete or fails to pass a step in the process, human involvement and interaction with a robot must be possible. If unexpected errors do crop up, you’ll have clear, simple workflows for handling them. That includes notifying administrators when a robot fails to execute, with precise information about where the error occurred.

SIMPLE Your RPA solution needs to be easy so every employee benefits from using robots for any process, anywhere in the business. Look for an RPA platform where smart robots can be built to handle multiple types of work—from collection of data to transforming content into meaningful business information to enforcing the rules of your processes.

SMART Your robotic digital workforce needs to be as smart and nimble as your employees. You should be able to apply sophisticated business rules within your robot process to understand complex content, extract the precise information you need, and transform and enrich the data based on the business needs of your organization. Look for a solution that can read and write to any data source (enterprise systems, databases and business intelligence applications). Robots must support simple task-based activities, as well as leverage more advanced learning to further advance automation.

FLEXIBILITY Things can change quickly, both within your organization and with the data sources you’re using. If your solution is designed to a rigid set of assumptions, you’ll spend a lot of time and effort keeping it up to date. Consider a solution that is code-free, logical and highly visual in design. Reusable process building blocks are also important to produce new robotic processes quickly—maintained and managed by business users and process excellence engineers.

ENTERPRISE-GRADE SECURITY An enterprise-class RPA solution provides security at every layer to protect your data and organization. That means granular, role-based access control and management, full integration with your existing LDAP/Active Directory identity infrastructure, secure storage of credentials and comprehensive audit logs of all user and system activity and changes to the data. Additionally, it provides strong encryption for all communications—with management consoles, authentication systems and robotic servers.

ENTERPRISE-CLASS Any automation tool can be made to look good in the lab, but there’s a big jump between proof of concept (POC) and production. If you purchase a solution that wasn’t designed from the ground up for enterprise-grade scalability, reliability and manageability, you’re in for a painful process trying to add that after the fact. Look for solutions that feature scale-out architectures, automated load distribution and built-in failover mechanisms for both robot servers and management consoles. It’s best to centrally manage everything around the processes you’re automating, from job scheduling to delegation and the distribution of robots. Your optimal solution is open and flexible, so you can publish robot processes with a standard Java, .NET, SOAP and RESTful interface that can be called by other business applications and processes, or create easily consumable applications for enterprise users.

EXPANDABILITY The right RPA solution can pay dividends on its own, but it’s even more powerful when you expand it to other technologies that address a broader set of business needs. For example, process intelligence enables you to monitor your business processes and identify opportunities for further improvement. It gives you visibility into what is currently happening, so you can take action in near real-time to remove bottlenecks and expedite processes to improve the customer experience. Also, you may want to consider pulling it all together by connecting to a single business process automation platform that can help solve challenges pertaining to understanding and processing all kinds of digital content, both structured and unstructured. In this case, machine learning of documents and extraction of digital data can transform them into actionable information and deliver it into your line of business workflows for more efficient processes.

It’s a lot to consider But if you’re investing in RPA —and you want to avoid the need to re-invest to fill gaps later—you shouldn’t accept anything less than a truly robust solution.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK TOUGH QUESTIONS OF ANY VENDOR: • Will my analysts be able to create robots on their own? And will the solution be powerful enough for my developers? Is the design environment a no-coding environment that makes it accessible and usable for the business analyst, but powerful enough for developers to build very complex robots for automated processes? • Do robots get deployed and execute centrally on a server? Or will I need to deploy robots to a physical or virtualized desktop environment, making it more difficult to maintain and update robots? • Is the software licensing flexible and will the total cost of ownership (TCO) align to the value of the solution? Or is the software robot licensing model tied to virtual or physical desktop machines, there’s extra cost for designers, analytics, and control tower, and the TCO is not aligned to the value given the technical resources, hardware and software required to support a large virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)? Don’t select a vendor until all of your questions are answered satisfactorily—and be sure to watch out for these next 7 “gotchas” that a vendor might not tell you.

7

“Gotchas” that a Vendor Might Not Tell You (or Doesn’t Want to Bring Up)

When talking to a vendor about their RPA solution, beware if you hear these “gotchas”:

“WE’VE ALWAYS HAD ROBOTIC AUTOMATION.” Beware of vendors who are simply retooling products or positioning themselves to try to capitalize on the RPA market. In all likelihood, the functionality will be limited to one area of the business and bolted into other technology you may not need. You’ll find few vendors with a solid track record of building actual robots and who have hundreds of customers running thousands of them.

“WRITING CODE IS A REQUIREMENT.” If an RPA product is built around writing lots of code, you’re not going to fully realize the benefits you should expect from automation. Unfortunately, some RPA product design environments are intended for developers, not business analysts—meaning you’ll have a much greater learning curve and more ongoing reliance on IT.

“THE COST OF SERVICES MAY BE HIGHER THAN THE SOFTWARE LICENSE.” You could end up paying more for services than the actual cost of the software. Don’t fall into the trap of getting tied to a vendor’s professional services team or a system integrator who’s constantly billing you to build the next robot.

“THE PRODUCT REQUIRES EXTENSIVE TRAINING.” In some cases, system integrators (not even customers) need a few months to become proficient with an RPA product. That’s a red flag for how well the product is designed to support rapid robot design, testing and deployment. A reasonable amount of upfront training and professional services can be expected to help your team build and deploy the first few robots. After that, you should have the necessary knowledge to build, deploy and manage the environment on your own.

“OUR SOFTWARE DOES IT ALL.“ This is a classic overpromising marketing or sales pitch. The reality is, some RPA vendors just got started a few years ago and like to talk a big game. When you watch their presentation, look for the color-coded boxes in the platform that may indicate third-party components. For example, if part of your business problem is processing documents (paper and/or digital), consider an enterprise capture offering, rather than a vendor whose presentation is full of colorful technology boxes.

“YOU NEED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) TO MAKE RPA USEFUL.” Jumping straight to AI and not understanding what the vendor means by AI is the wrong approach. Yes, AI is important and is the future of robotic automation, but you can get early wins with RPA by addressing obvious challenges, without ever touching advanced learning technology. A sound RPA strategy establishes an automation classes that looks at process prioritization, development approaches, required technologies and best practices. If you need more advanced capabilities, such as content analytics and natural language processing, choose an RPA vendor that has the technology and expertise in those areas.

“OUR SOFTWARE IS ENTERPRISE-READY.” “Enterprise” is a misused term by many software vendors. If you’re evaluating basic macro recording software that runs on the desktop, think twice. That is not enterprise software. If you have to run recorders on users’ desktops, just imagine how complex the environment will get when you’re deploying, running and managing updates for hundreds or even thousands of desktop recordings. A vendor whose robots run on a centralized server offers far greater control and manageability than one whose robots run on a desktop.

YOUR RPA SOLUTION CHECKLIST Use the following checklist to make sure the RPA solution you’re considering provides all of the key features and functionality needed to maximize your return on investment.

Required Features

Kofax Kapow

Scalability and Performance Scale out architecture, built-in failover and cluster servers that can scale and support running thousands of robotic processes



Does not require connecting to a virtual desktop environment for robots that can connect any web interface or mainframe green screen, making it easier to maintain environment



Advanced production management, including scheduling, delegation and distribution of robots



Resiliency and Error Handling Provides real-time testing and debugging in a visual step-by-step process, useful for error debugging



Avoid solutions that rely on basic scraping data from a screen which creates a very fragile robot design environment



Reliability Does not rely on recording the clicks and keystrokes of a user which is harder to maintain



Low maintenance robots; no system outages when your applications are changed, saving you time and money



Alerts an administrator when an application or web source (e.g. website) changes and pinpoints where in the robotic process an error has occurred, allowing for quick resolution



Vendor B

Vendor C

Required Features

Kofax Kapow

Simple Design studio features design, deployment, QA and production support tools, including performance dashboards, a scheduler and viewers for data sources and targets



Integrated debugging environment provides visual step-by-step execution and breakpoints useful for error checking



System/business analyst users can design robots—without coding—yet powerful and flexible for IT developer



Can apply advanced business logic and workflow rules to deliver more intelligent software robots



Flexibility Handles all varieties of legacy and cloud applications, terminal screen applications and data sources like web sites, portals and Excel, as well as databases, files (PDF), XML, etc.



Native automation connectivity into key applications like SAP; native automation connectivity for terminals (IBM 3270, 5250, vt100)



Built-in headless web browser for web applications, web sites and portals that provides ability to run multiple concurrent web sessions on a server without needing to connect to separate virtual desktop or server that has a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer)



Provides Synthetic APIs (REST/web services) to integrate with other applications and workflow processes



Unified Robot Design Environment and Experience Provides a single unified design environment versus multiple design tools for learning an application and designing the process



Visual interface enables robot builders to visually recognize applications, screen areas and objects in real-time while building robot automation workflow



Vendor B

Vendor C

Required Features

Kofax Kapow

Applications, pop-up windows and other individual screen components or widgets are automatically assigned to their individual automation tab in a design studio, for individual assigning of automation processes



Can quickly add business logic that transforms and validates the data; can connect multiple data sets together



Business rules can be edited during testing and debugging of robotic processes; performs real-time testing and debugging against target application



Allows for more complex processes with different processing paths, other than the expected “happy path” linear process that recording tools rely on



Provides a project synchronization feature in a design studio and management console that supports robot design, developer collaboration and file conflict resolution, including sharing of robots, types, snippets, resources and credentials



Management and Administration Solution is managed through central point of control to avoid compliance risk



Allows single-sign-on passwords



Can centrally deploy robots—Instead of deploying them to individual desktops or virtualized desktop environments



Flexible choices on when and how a robot gets executed, including scheduling, being invoked by a user, an application or a specific event in an external workflow process



Provides comprehensive robot and system monitoring, analytics, and process intelligence to ensure things run smoothly, and process administrators are able to measure processes and areas where improvements can be made



Vendor B

Vendor C

Required Features

Kofax Kapow

Security Easily integrates existing user access roles for security purposes; easily connects to Windows Active Directory or LDAP to maintain single-sign-on credentials



Segmented user access and role management



Enables auditing of all user and system activity



Provides secure access to a management console using HTTPS and user authentication



Secure communication ensured with servers using SSL and authenticated connections



Provides secure storage of credentials using Java Key Store and strong encryption



Expandability Easily integrates with analytics software, such as process intelligence



Easily integrates with other software that expands capacity, such as advanced or mobile capture



Easily integrates a robot with advanced learning systems, like IBM Watson, to understand content and handle exceptions versus involving humans



Licensing Model Only limited by your imagination; no limits on use cases that can be built



No limits on number of robotic processes that can be designed



Value is tied to your usage; the more you use, the more value you can get from your investment



Flexible licensing fits a wide range of use cases, including those long-tail processes that always seem to go unaddressed



Vendor B

Vendor C

MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION With more and more organizations realizing the value of RPA, it’s up to you to choose the right solution for your business. Ask hard questions of your vendors, and look out for the eight “gotchas” that inexperienced vendors might not reveal. Your RPA solution needs to help your business, not hinder it. You want a solution that offers scalability, speed, reliability, ease of use, intelligence, flexibility, great design, enterprise-class capabilities and expandability. When choosing your RPA solution, fully examine its features and ensure it provides all of the capabilities on your vendor checklist.

Learn more Download our Kofax Kapow datasheet to learn more about our robotic process automation capabilities. You can contact us for more information at 1-949-727-1733.

For more information on how we can help make business as usual better for you and your customers with robotic process automation, contact us at [email protected]

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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Robotic Process - Kofax

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Choosing the Right Robotic Process Automation Solution Your how-to handbook for digitally transforming the way you work READ… ...

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