Keeping a Lid on RPA License Costs

By Michael Schulman

Client Services Manager, NPI

February 15, 2021

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Despite the volatility and disruption of the past year (in some measure, because of it…), global robotic process automation software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5 percent from 2020. A signal of accelerated digital transformation in the enterprise, companies are investing in RPA to reduce or remove the rote tasks that plague knowledge workers day in and day out. As is expected with trending advancements in technology, the list of vendors in the marketplace is growing along with companies’ RPA license costs.

The cost and business case for RPA is a compelling one. Organizations want to automate workflows that typically take knowledge workers valuable time to finish and repurpose the cycles toward more important tasks. Of course, there are costs associated with RPA – the cost to develop, cost to deploy and cost to maintain.

Factors Driving Uptick in RPA License Costs

RPA is typically sold on a subscription basis.  And like SaaS vendors, RPA vendors quietly implement price increases year after year. That doesn’t make much sense when you think about it.

Why should the cost of RPA bots go up? The bot is not relearning year over year. Yes, the bot technology should get better. But once a bot automates a process, that process is done, and it is on to the next one. If the cost of the solution continues to go up, then the value proposition tips out of balance.

RPA license costs are only one part of the overspend equation. There is also ongoing support of the solution. RPA vendors need strong support capabilities in place to support their customers not only as they onboard the RPA technology, but as they grow with that technology.

The challenge is that a customer’s support requirements can change as the organization becomes more adept at leveraging RPA and demand for process automation evolves. Relying on the vendor to help you optimize subscription and support to align with those changes isn’t advisable – it can lead to overbuying. Customers need to independently validate what is being subscribed to is being utilized and keep the subscription right-sized.

Optimizing Your RPA Investment for Savings

The fight for market share among RPA vendors is intensifying rapidly. Some vendors in the space offer customizable solutions, and some approach the market with a one-size-fits-all model.

It is important that your technology team consistently evaluate your enterprise RPA subscription and keep it in tune with current requirements. In some years, your needs will grow and in other years they will decrease. Make sure your agreement with your RPA vendor has allowances for scaling down (without penalty) as your organization’s automation stance changes over time and certain subscriptions are no longer necessary.

As with any material software investment, perform IT price benchmark analysis on every deal to make sure you’re paying a price that’s at or better than market. This is especially true in IT spend categories like RPA where the competitive landscape is rapidly changing.

These are only a few of the considerations in crafting your RPA solution, but they are critical to keeping RPA license costs in check. If you’d like to learn whether you’re getting a good deal on RPA license cost, let us know.

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