Part 1 — How to slash your RPA subscription fees
Are you frustrated that your RPA program is not providing the Return on Investment (ROI) promised by your vendor at the start of the program?
Or perhaps concerned about your skyrocketing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), driven in part by your RPA software vendor intend on raising subscription pricing at will and prioritizing their profitability over your needs?
If the above describes your current predicament, read on to learn the 8 ways you can reduce the TCO and improve the ROI of your RPA program.
While RPA can help businesses generate value — both tangible and intangible — in the form of improved customer and employee experience, higher productivity, and more, this article focuses primarily on how you can slash the cost of your RPA program in today’s environment which is both inflationary and recessionary.
To begin with, let’s examine the 3 biggest cost components of any RPA program — Software, Services and Support:
- Software refers to the RPA software licensing costs. Generally speaking, most pricing models are based around annual subscriptions on a named user basis. Also, many RPA vendors now provide different products across the broader automation platform — including Process Mining, Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Document Processing, Low Code Application Platforms, Business Analytics and more — and these are typically licensed separately.
- Services refers to the costs incurred in engaging the professional services of third party service providers to implement the RPA solutions. Generally speaking, such costs depends on the number of processes as well as the complexities of these processes. These services typically span the entire project lifecycle including discovery, design, development, testing and deployment.
- Support refers to the costs of maintaining the deployed RPA solutions in production. RPA maintenance is not well understood and often ignored by companies at their own peril. Broken bots may occur due to a variety of reasons including changes to the UI/API of the underlying applications, changes to the data formats (both inputs and outputs) and changes to the business process itself.
Without further ado, let’s dive into how you can reduce your RPA operating expenses across these 3 components.
1. Actively negotiate your subscription costs during new license purchases and renewals.
The RPA software market is highly competitive with many vendors providing a largely undifferentiated, commoditized product. Often, by pushing the right buttons, these vendors would be amenable to providing discounts off published list prices. In addition, as you scale your RPA program and buy more licenses, request for additional volume discounts knowing that the majority of RPA implementations still do not go beyond 10 bots.
2. Adopt a multi-vendor strategy.
Avoid being at the mercy of your sole RPA software vendor and being subjected to frequent (should we say unwarranted) price uplifts by diversifying your RPA software. This will help keep your RPA software vendors on the straight and provide additional leverage during your price negotiations (see point 1).
3. Manage your license utilization proactively.
Especially when you have a citizen developer program or are scaling RPA within your company. Many a times, developer licenses allocated to employees remain un-utilized as they are either too busy or simply not interested. In addition, bot utilization can be low due to the small number of processes being automated or infrequent processing (e.g. monthly, quarterly or annual processes). In such instances, you may want to consider consolidating and rationalizing some of the licenses in order to save money.
4. Consider consumption-based pricing models for processes that run less frequently, i.e. monthly, quarterly and annually.
Traditional RPA pricing model that is based on named user is often commercially non-viable for such long tail processes due to low bot utilization (see point 3). Unfortunately, the reality is that such processes are the norm, not the exception, in most organizations, particularly SMBs. Adopting a pay-as-you-go pricing enables you to truly democratize automation and realize an automation-first strategy.
5. Keep a lid on costs while making RPA accessible.
If you have common processes that need to be run by a group of employees, getting one named user for each employee can be cost prohibitive. Instead, consider either using service accounts for such automations (if within a department) or purchasing a per-process plan that allows unlimited number of employees within the organization to run that (high value) automation.
6. Explore alternative RPA software.
Sometimes it may be worth your while to venture off the beaten tracks. Even though RPA is a relatively young market, there is a surprisingly large number of RPA software available. Besides popular choices like Automation Anywhere, Microsoft Power Automate, SS&C Blue Prism and UiPath, there are also open source alternatives such as Open RPA, Robocorp and TagUI. Choose one that needs your technical requirements and operating budget.
7. Be wary of hidden costs.
As many of the incumbent RPA software vendors make the pivot to become business automation platforms, it pays to do your research and identify the platform components that you need to fulfil your desired use cases. Clarify upfront if there are any paid add-ons or pay-per-use features that you will incur to avoid getting a nasty shock when you receive your monthly invoice later on.
Per-user pricing model can be complex, especially for enterprise customers with a large user base. There are various different add-ons, plus limitations on storage, file capacity and daily requests. — Gartner
8. Not all bots are created equal.
In the world of RPA, there are basically 2 types of bots — attended and unattended. As long as user interaction is not required during the automation, most users prefer unattended bots due to the ability to trigger and schedule processes without manual intervention. However, while the underlying software is similar, there is a huge price differential between attended and unattended bots licenses with the latter costing as much as 6X times the former. Hence, all else the same, attended bots should be your first port of call. Or consider a robot scheduling software that allows you to trigger and schedule an attended bot.
Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 of this blog post where we will highlight ways you can slash the services and support costs of your RPA program.
Do you know of any other ways to reduce the RPA subscription fees? Do drop us a comment below.