RPA frameworks

Identifying the best path forward

Corey Minard
| 8/11/2022
Fin Crime RPA Frameworks

Automation is becoming a necessity, so determining which RPA framework is the best fit for your organization is a critical decision.

Automation technology and robotic process automation (RPA) are becoming foundational tools in many organizations. Organizations use this emerging technology to streamline processes, free up personnel, and reduce the likelihood of human error. In particular, financial crime prevention specialists also rely on automation when gathering transactional data, completing external third-party research (including negative news and adverse media), and assigning alerts and cases to analysts and investigators.

But which RPA framework is best? A Crowe specialist offers some background and five questions to help guide the decision.

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What is RPA?

Robotic process automation is an automation technology based on artificial intelligence that can automate and facilitate processes that are manual, time-intensive, or repetitive. Through the use of robotic applications, or “bots,” software can learn your processes, create workflows that replicate them, and execute those workflows without the interaction of humans.

Benefits of RPA

RPA can provide a lot of benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Saving money
  • Making processes more efficient and scalable
  • Minimizing opportunities for human error
  • Making reporting faster, easier, and more accurate
  • Allowing resources to focus on meaningful, value-added activities

5 questions to ask

To determine how to successfully use RPA, organizations can ask five key questions to help define the best path forward:

  • Is automation part of our organization’s vision and strategic priorities?
  • Is our organization already using RPA and bots for certain processes?
  • How will we calculate return on investment (ROI), and what variables are important to the business to calculate ROI (for example, reducing human error, saving time and money, and reducing headcount)?
  • What is our budget?
  • What is our implementation timeline?

Having a foundational understanding of the organization’s current state and future vision is critical for determining which automation path is best.

Which RPA framework is best?

RPA frameworks vary, but the two major frameworks organizations can use to capitalize on their benefits include RPA as a service (RPAaaS) and in-house automation. Each path has its benefits and drawbacks and can be successful at different points of your organization’s automation journey. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks for each helps organizations make strategic decisions.

RPA as a service

With RPAaaS, outsourced resources develop and host the bots, and clients provide the data to be used. Automation occurs in the outsourced environment, and automation output is then provided back to the client. This option is often chosen when there are a small number of bots that perform routine tasks, so it is ideal for organizations that are just beginning the journey into automation.

RPAaaS takes less time to set up, as there is no internal software required, and it is fully managed by an outside provider. These features make it flexible and scalable to the needs of your organization. However, over the long run, RPAaaS is more expensive because of subscription and advisory fees that can add up over time.

Exhibit 1: Benefits and drawbacks of RPAaaS

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Short setup time
  • Fully managed by a separate entity with RPA subject-matter expertise
  • No software purchase required
  • Flexible and scalable
  • Good for a small quantity of bots performing routine tasks
  • More expensive in the long run
  • Less opportunity for RPA expansion for complex processes

Source: Crowe analysis

In-house automation

On the other end of the spectrum, in-house automation relies on internal resources such as information technology and automation developers to create and maintain bots. This alternative best fits organizations that have a broader strategic vision to use automation across the enterprise or already have bots deployed in other operational areas.

Although an in-house automation approach has higher upfront costs, it offers greater long-term savings, as cost is shared at the enterprise level and bots are created in house to interact specifically with an organization’s interfaces. Higher upfront costs include the purchase and implementation of an underlying RPA technology such as Blue Prism or UiPath software. A decision on the most appropriate underlying technology will require larger enterprise-level discussions, which could extend implementation timelines.

Exhibit 2: Benefits and drawbacks of in-house automation

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Good for organizations with a pre-existing RPA strategy
  • Greater long-term savings
  • Better control over RPA applications
  • Quality control is easier to maintain
  • Confidentiality is better protected
  • Ideal for a larger quantity of bots performing more complex processes
  • Higher upfront costs, including monetary, time, and training
  • Longer implementation timeline
  • Greater enterprise-level agreement and buy-in is required
  • Purchase of underlying RPA technology is necessary

Source: Crowe analysis

Making the right RPA framework choice

RPA frameworks offer new, more efficient, and more accurate alternatives to repetitive, manual processes. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to starting the automation journey, making the right choice begins with asking key questions.

Whether organizations go with RPAaaS or in-house automation, an effective RPA framework can offer many benefits for the bottom line and improve efficiency.