RPA or Open-source Technology – What Will You Pick for Automation?


CXOs want to ride the automation wave and cash in on the benefits offered, such as efficiency, scalability, and quality. While Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been the frontrunner in enabling this value realization, the purists on IT have advocated using certain open-source software platforms that too help accelerate business processes.

Automation includes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in erstwhile manual processes, especially those that are repetitive and labor-intensive. Human effort is reduced by teaching bots certain predetermined decision criteria, sub-process relationships, and related actions, and finally embodying those predeterminations in machines.

So how do organizations decide between using RPA tools and open-source technology to drive automation for maximum value realization? Let’s see what both have to offer.

RPA Tools vs. Open-source Technology

RPA tools perform “if, then, else” statements on structured data, typically using a combination of user interface (UI) interactions or by connecting to APIs to drive client servers, mainframes, or HTML code. An RPA tool will map a process in its own language for its bots to follow, with runtime allocated to execute the script by a control dashboard. RPA tools are typically low code platforms and are easy to develop though hard to maintain. Some of the more popular RPA tools are UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, Kofax, and Pega

Open-source technology is not proprietary, and with certain provisions (depending on the open-source license), it can be modified or built upon in a manner that is open to the public. Some of the better-known open-source languages are Python, Java, JavaScript, and C#. The low-cost nature makes it easy for enterprises to dip their toes into automation without committing the requisite dollars to a full-blown RPA solution, as long as they account for the efforts needed to build and deploy an open-source solution.

So how do you choose?
  1. Screen scraping
    If your automation project involves screen scraping, then RPA is a better choice because RPA tools can scrape data from any type of user interface. Open-source libraries are not mature enough.
  2. Changes in Process
    Automation initiatives tend to involve regular changes. RPA tools have a low code platform making development and modifications much easier.
  3. Process Complexity
    The more complex a business process, the harder will be its automation journey. RPA tools measure complexity based on the number of applications and steps involved. If the process complexity is high, then RPA tools win again due to ease of development and maintenance.
  4. Transaction Volume
    Transaction volume is to judge the automation scale. If the volume is high, it needs a greater number of bots and scalable design. If the volume is high and ROI is low, then RPA tools are not suitable because of the license cost.
  5. Automation Percentage
    Automation Percentage measures how much of a process can be automated. In business processes that involve a higher number of human judgments with only some parts that can be automated, open-source technologies will give faster results.

Here is the Tool Selection Matrix which can be used to decide the right technology for your automation.

It’s for the future

RPA is the catalyst that enables enterprises to rapidly accelerate achieving service and operational excellence. It is crucial to select the right technology catalyst, as this investment and effort should deliver sustained service excellence that stands the test of evolving business needs, changing workforce dynamics, and customer expectations. Technology should always be forward-looking, reliable, robust, cost-effective, and most importantly, nimble enough to be swiftly adopted.

Authored by Adarsh Sunkad

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