Five reasons why software robots belong in the cloud

Published:14.03.18

There is a lot of discussion among RPA experts about if and how an organization should build its RPA center of excellence (CoE) and how to solve challenges that come with an on-premise approach, where software robots reside in the company’s IT environment. Usually situated in the shared service center (SSC) or the IT department, the CoE’s role is to bundle all RPA capabilities and provide company-wide and standardized access to automation technology. Since we at Intelligent Automation by NORIAN have been receiving a lot of positive feedback on our Automation as a Service-offering (AaaS), let’s take a closer look at the concept of the CoE, as well as the on premise and cloud-based approach to software robotics.

 

Motivation for building an RPA CoE varies greatly

When we discuss the pros and cons of cloud-based vs. on premise software robots with customers, we usually address these questions:

  • What is the best approach for your organization to get started with RPA and to scale up quickly?
  • What needs to be in place when you are establishing your own RPA CoE vs. using AaaS?
  • If an RPA CoE combined with an on premise-model is your preferred choice, when will the investment pay off?

Motivation for building a CoE varies. Many simply want an organization-wide, standardized approach, while others plan to offer RPA as an internal service to different departments and business units. After having discussed this with many customers, we identified these five  recurring challenges:

  1. Recruiting: For a functioning RPA CoE you need people who are business process experts and at the same time have an understanding of software development. Experience shows it is easier to teach business process knowledge to software developers than the other way around. However, developers can be hard to find these days when everyone is digitalizing their business.
  2. Maintenance: When going on-premise, the CoE will be responsible for maintaining software robots in cooperation with your IT. You will want to make sure that your robots are working reliably 24/7. Some companies are struggling with that – which means they run the risk of business-critical robots being down for hours or even days.
  3. Scaling up: When it comes to enterprise-scale RPA, the devil lies in the details. It’s no surprise to us that some CoE managers feel their staff is busy with fine-tuning a few existing robots instead of concentrating on scaling up and finding more work to automate. In addition, growing your team might happen a lot slower than anticipated and you might not be able to scale up as quickly as planned due to lack of resources.
  4. In-house IT: Ideally, cooperation with your IT department runs smoothly and they accommodate your every need. Worst case, the robot environment that your IT department provides is not up to par for your plans for scaling up. Moreover, IT might not be able to react to your needs as quickly as you wish. Sometimes, simple things like user accounts for robots, buying software licenses, or adding more server power can take longer than you plan or desire.
  5. RPA licenses: When you buy licenses for any automation solution on your own, you will most likely have to pay the catalog price. In some cases, you might even have to buy a minimum quantity of licenses even though you just want to start with one robot.

When going for AaaS however, you will be able to tackle these challenges in an easy and cost-efficient way. In such a model, a service provider gives you access to an optimized RPA environment for a monthly fee: Your robot workforce in the cloud.

To sum up our point: At first glance, it might seem obvious that every company should build internal RPA capabilities and bundle their resources in a CoE. However, what is actually required to build internally in order to apply RPA successfully and gainfully differs greatly from company to company. In our opinion, organizations should be able to focus on the business part of RPA and on identifying which processes to automate. In other words, we think businesses should be able to concentrate on increasing their competitiveness and not on maintaining their robot workforce.

That being said, there will always be situations where going on-premise cannot be avoided. In these cases, a reliable automation partner will not turn you away, but help you build and maintain your in-house robot workforce.

Tomi Paapio

Tomi Paapio