Is RPA worth it?

Q: Is RPA worth it?

A: No.

Make no mistake: it’s not a snake-oil technology, and RPA software itself is typically solid.

But you could be automating the exact same complex processes for a fraction of the cost if you use a back-end (rather than a front-end) automation technique.

And we’re not talking a minor price difference. We’re talking a difference of tens – sometimes even hundreds – of thousands of pounds.

Automation without the “robot” hype

RPA – or robotic process automation – is a relatively new method of automation. But the results it produces, and the tasks that it automates, are categorically not new.

BPA – or business process automation – achieves the same output, but gets there in a slightly different way.

Let’s compare using our own ThinkAutomation model.

is rpa worth it? setup comparison

As you can see, the two systems offer the same core service, powering the same end results. The only difference is that RPA uses bots, while BPA uses conditional processing.

So, is the use of bots worth the price hike? First, we’ll need to take a closer look at those prices.

A look at the numbers

If you’re asking “is RPA worth it?” from an ROI perspective, then the simple truth is that you’ll get exponentially more ROI from a lower-cost BPA platform.

We’ve written about this in detail elsewhere, but the total cost of a standard RPA implementation is estimated at £206,180 per year. That’s because the fees involved – consultations, training, the number of licences needed, are extensive. (And extensively underestimated.)

But what if you just want a straight-up licence cost? Again, let’s compare using our own ThinkAutomation model.

So, to recap thus far:

  • With RPA, you’re paying an absolute minimum of ~£10k, likely to rise to substantially more than that.
  • With BPA, you’re paying a flat fee of ~£2k, with no extra fees or hidden charges.
  • And with either solution, you can automate the same kinds of processes, using a similar automation studio, with the same kind of scale and extensibility.

Rule-based logic vs “digital workers”

Okay, so is RPA worth it because of that core difference of automating via “software bots” or “digital workers”? (As opposed to automating with BPA’s rule-based logic – via if/then/else statements?)

It’s admittedly flashier to use “digital workers”. They can operate on the interface level, and manipulate an interface in much the same way that a human worker can. Think scrolls, clicks, saves, in-app actions, etc.

With BPA, meanwhile, you’re using a series of back-end integrations to execute the desired actions in the desired programs. This can be a little clunkier, and requires rule-based logic.

But ultimately, you’re still pushing data from A to B. You’re still parsing and processing. You’re still transforming, extracting, uploading, updating – doing whatever you need with data, inside whatever program you need it.

And if the post-configuration yields of automation are so similar, does it really matter how you get there?

TL;DR: Is RPA worth it?

Not when you could achieve the results you want without spending anywhere near as much, no.

And don’t just take our word for it.

You can download ThinkAutomation for free – no credit card, no data entry required – and start building automations for yourself. We’re pretty confident you won’t be so keen to spend tens of thousands after seeing what you can build inside ThinkAutomation.

Further reading