What are the top 5 Robotic Process Automation tools for contractors?

UiPath, Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism represent a triumvirate of critical tools in Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

While there are more than three technology automation platforms (there are obviously a whole host), if you want to work as a contractor in an enterprise organisation, earning decent rates, these are the three that count.

But in the spirit of generosity, here exclusively for ContractorUK, let me explore what the five top RPA tools for contractors are, at least at the time of writing, writes Ged McNamara, a director of client technology and automation at Randstad UK.

1. Automation Anywhere

Automation Anywhere was the RPA market-leader early on but, as a result, there are now plenty of contractors with Automation Anywhere experience! That means Automation Anywhere expertise is slightly less valuable than might otherwise be the case.

When it comes to RPA, Automation Anywhere has become the ‘get your foot in the door’ offering. That’s partly by design; you could hand the Automation Anywhere keys to people who are good at building Excel formulae and macros -- the user interface will feel familiar to business users, and they should be relatively comfortable producing automation. But if you’re looking to pitch yourself as an RPA contractor ‘specialist’, you’ll need to position your expertise someway beyond citizen-led development.

2. UiPath

UiPath is at the other end of the spectrum. It has slowly emerged as the front-running automation platform -- and in the last five years or so has become the international standard.

While UiPath does now provide the same type of service as Automation Anywhere via its own system developer version, UiPath lends itself far better to ‘centre of excellence’ automation. There are fewer contractors who understand all facets of UiPath, and the skills gap means contracts are better paid. Shrewd contractors are trying to educate themselves on it this very moment!

3. Blue Prism

Blue Prism is a homegrown provider of process automation technology (whereas UiPath is Romanian, for example).

While not quite in the same automation software league as UiPath, it held its own against the global competition. Indeed, from what we’re seeing, Blue Prism is certainly more important in the RPA space than Be Informed BV; OpenSpan or Jacada.

Similarly, Blue Prism (BP) offers several advantages over Automation Anywhere. BP’s architecture promotes greater scalability and security -- ensuring it can handle complex enterprise-level automation needs effectively.

Second, BP's control room and audit trail capabilities are particularly robust and enhance compliance and governance. That makes it a better choice for industries with strict regulatory requirements. And third, its partnerships with other technology providers enable better integration.

4. RPA community forums, blogs, WhatsApp groups

To stay at the top of your RPA game, you’ll need a place to seek help in the event that you have a problem that you cannot resolve, on your own as an individual contractor.

Turning to the RPA community on forums, blogs and the like will give you access to a powerful resource, made up of thousands of people. The community can also help you keep up with emerging tech; you can’t rely on the 'here-and-now tools' for very long, and you will have to know where the industry is heading if you want to be a visionary in the field, or even just a consultant with foresight.

This highlights another reason why UiPath is becoming so dominant. It currently has a larger and more active user-community, which means more resources, forums, and pre-built automation components available for contractors to leverage. This ecosystem is important and will accelerate your development and troubleshooting.

5. Diagram generation and visualisation tools

The fifth tool RPA contractors shouldn’t be without is not a platform at all -- it’s a diagramming and vector graphics application.

Visualisation tools like Microsoft Visio help represent process flows. These are powerful because they help RPA contractors have effective conversations with non-technical stakeholders. Draw.io is a user-friendly, web-based alternative.

One for luck? That’ll be Teams, Zoom, and/or Google Meet

To end, I’m returning to the spirit of generosity I got into at the start, by making six not just five recommendations!

Specifically, I recommend adding to your RPA locker what might seem off-beat for being a non-RPA tool, but it’s a staple -- video conferencing apps. These should be one of your top tools as an RPA contractor because, at a higher level, the ability to communicate is critical.

The best RPA consultants we’re placing right now are capable of having a sensible and potentially in-depth conversation with people remotely, wherever they’re located in the world, and to do that effectively you’ll need to be silky smooth on Zoom and the likes of.

Tuesday 17th Oct 2023
Profile picture for user Ged McNamara

Written by Ged McNamara

Ged McNamara is the director of client technology and automation at Randstad UK. With more than a decade's experience in business analysis, he began to specialise in Robotic Process Automation in 2019, when he became Randstad's RPA domain leader. Ged began his career in technology with American pharmaceutical corporation Eli Lilly & Company. He joined Randstad, the world’s largest recruitment company, in 2010.

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