Selecting your RPA Service Partner
Starting your Automation Journey on the Right Foot
Selecting the right RPA (robotic process automation) service partner can be challenging. A partner needs to have extensive knowledge and experience not only in business operations but also have the same depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in the RPA space. Having a partner with limited knowledge of RPA will only lead to problems later. So where do you start?
I imagine that trying to select the right RPA partner must feel the same as when you walk through the midway at a fair and all the carnies are trying to get your attention. Every vendor is promising the moon and the stars, and you have to hope you pick the right one and win the prize.
As a member of an internal CoE and working for two consulting firms, I have been staffed on multiple projects to come in and clean up after partners who have been hired and were not able to deliver on the promises they made. I will attest emphatically that not all partners are the same. So, what do you look for in a partner?
In my experience, there are three very important things to consider when selecting a partner:
1. Previous experience and proven work products
There is just no way to replace all that is learned through experience so that would weigh heavily for me. There is a big difference between “industry experience”, “consulting experience”, “development experience” and “RPA experience”. They are not the same. I would ask very specifically for details about what they’ve done in RPA.
In talking to potential partners, you will quickly discover who has that experience when asking the right questions. Find someone who has proven their work and can show it. Ask for specific examples in what they have done in RPA and how exactly they build the automation and processes they produce. Each partner should be able to walk you through how an automation will be built and the steps it will take to implement it. If the potential partner you are seeking is unable to do so, then maybe they are overselling their capabilities in the RPA space.
2. Best practice standards
Consider what the RPA service partner’s standards and best practices are and how they enforce adherence to those standards. I would expect a partner to have fleshed this out and to be able to tell me how to build automations right. I have seen many solutions pushed into production that didn’t adhere to best practices for one reason or another and these sloppy solutions lead to support headaches in the future, which no company wants.
3. Customer Satisfaction
Last, consider the length of customer engagement and customer satisfaction ratings when vetting vendors. Some partners will set up reference calls and show customer ratings from a group of customers who have only worked with them for two years or less. If the firm is 10 years old and they give you referrals who have been clients <1 year I would be asking where did the other clients go and why? Where are the customers they have worked with and supported for over five years? The length of engagement with a partner matters. The longevity of a partner relationship is reflective of the quality of the work and support the partner can provide.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is another good metric to view. That is a rating that can’t be bought, consequently, this rating is meaningful.