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7 Qs to Find the Right Automation Vendor & Tool

By: Hyperscience
Published: March 17, 2020

Digital transformation means that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) business strategies aren’t a forward-thinking option, they’re a necessity.

After you determine which business processes to automate, and then build a plan to do so, the next thing to do is to determine which automation vendors can deliver your practical vision and launch business process transformation through the right capabilities, offerings and support.

But how do you know which vendor is right for you? Here are seven questions to ask when choosing an automation vendor.

Has the vendor developed their own capabilities?

Start by narrowing down options to those vendors that have developed their own capabilities. They should be experts in their own proprietary software and should be available for troubleshooting and support as you navigate their systems.

Arrange for software testing to ensure that it performs as advertised and that your team can effectively add this new system to your existing tech stack.

Does the vendor and their solution solve an existing problem?

Put another way, is there a clear first use case, or even better, multiple use cases? Maximize your investment by choosing an automation tool that will pack a punch and solve problems found in large and small processes, such as automatically classifying documents or extracting data from handwritten as well as electronic forms.

Using predictive models, there are some capabilities that are designed to help you identify other pain points that could be solved through automation. Remember that there is a difference between efficiency and productivity — are the problems an automation product is designed to solve actually a problem in your business? Often there can be too many processes for too little value, as described in this McKinsey report on streamlining or eliminating overcomplicated processes in order to increase profit.

Can it handle diverse inputs and unstructured data?

Most agree that an organization’s ability to mine and leverage data will be a key determinant in their ability to remain competitive. The vast majority of an enterprise’s data, however, remains trapped in paper forms, PDFs, images, scanned documents and more, which renders it unavailable for practical analysis. According to IDC, 80% of data worldwide will be unstructured by 2025, meaning this problem shows no signs of slowing down. Ensure that the automation solution is built to handle real-world, imperfect inputs.

At Hyperscience, we regularly work with companies who have started automation projects only to discover that a large portion of their processes involve document processing and data extraction. Without the right automation tool in place to unlock and lift the data, the critical first step in decision-making, they can’t move forward with any automation initiatives.

Hyperscience’s ability to read and handle different document types and text inputs such as invoices, checks, distorted and low resolution images, and more is one of the reasons it’s valued as a top data extraction tool for its customers.

Can the solution be easily implemented?

Accessibility and ease of deployment and integration is key when choosing an automation vendor. Though companies should start small, prioritizing quick wins, they also need to find a partner that can scale beyond these first projects. How easy is it to get the solution up and running or add more use cases or lines of business? Maximize return to your organization by making sure your team can successfully integrate the software capabilities into your existing processes. Ask vendors about their API as well as existing partnerships and out-of-the-box integrations.

Further, a well-designed, easy-to-use solution also drives scalability, which is necessary for continued innovation and streamlining of automated processes. Hyperscience, for example, deploys on commodity Linux hardware and is designed to scale horizontally to process any volume of documents.

Can their products be deployed on-premise?

Due to data privacy and future flexibility, find a solution that can be deployed on your campus using your hardware servers or your private cloud servers. Prevent the potential of future leaks by keeping the software capabilities close to home. Remember that the right vendor will offer customer support regardless of location.

Security is of paramount importance, so don’t skimp on this step. It’s also worth diving deeper to understand how the vendor handles release management, basic user permissions, and compliance with security and governance best practices.

Will the product continue to learn and get better with time?

True AI solutions will update frequently — even daily — to improve upon processes and performance. This is called incremental learning — more advanced ML processes that continuously improve and “that incorporates incremental learning to extract information efficiently from constantly incoming data”.

A good machine learning (ML) solution will deliver high rates of accuracy and innovative automation — and it will also continue to get better over time. Find out if there are built-in mechanisms that ensure a highly accurate system at the start; one that becomes even more accurate over time due to advanced machine learning models. You should expect continuous improvement over time.

Can your team easily learn and use the tool?

How intuitive is the software? Does your personnel have the skills they need to learn the product efficiently and effectively? What vendor tools are available for training and ongoing customer support? This is one of the most crucial elements in choosing the right automation vendor, as the capabilities offered won’t matter unless your team can effectively and efficiently learn and use the products.

According to a recent Forbes article, an integrative, rules-based programming powered by people will bring the most ML bang-for-the-buck. Your workforce should be empowered by the automation tools you employ. Remember who AI is serving — if processes are too difficult to implement or if the training is bogging down your employees, it may be appropriate to scale in a different direction and “‘transition from siloed work to interdisciplinary collaboration, where business, operational, and analytics experts work side by side,’ as stated by McKinsey.”

As you ask yourselves and potential automation vendors these questions, and then thoughtfully compare their answers, you’ll be able to find the right solutions for your business to improve returns, increase productivity and efficiency, and optimize the benefits of automation.

Interested in seeing how Hyperscience stacks up to the competition? Speak with a member of our team today.