How much does RPA cost? According to Deloitte, SMEs can pay from $4,000 to $15,000, for one bot. However, enterprise organizations may need as much as $20 million, for a complete RPA solution of up to 500 robots, which can displace over 1,000 employees, and generate over $100 million in savings.
The RPA implementation cost varies from one vendor to another. RPA solutions from UiPath cost as much as $20,000, depending on the level of automation needed. Automation Anywhere cost is also within that range, though theirs is based on the number of RPA robots.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the following:
Generally, most vendors base their RPA pricing models on automation input or output pricing models. But, is that all there is to the cost of RPA tools? Not quite, read on to learn more about RPA pricing.
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We can split the cost of RPA into three categories:
That allows us to get a detailed cost-benefit analysis, than if we were to look at the outputs of RPA solutions.
The initial RPA costs encountered include:
The above costs will be incurred before and just before the RPA solution is fully operational. Other optional but related costs include consulting services, production tools, and strategic consulting services.
The cost of consulting services will depend on whom you choose to hire, and how you will be communicating with them. Generally, you will pay more for working with consultants from a Fortune 500 consulting firm, at about $500/h.
And you would pay the least, if you are working with a college graduate who learned RPA on the job, at about $50/h.
Often, the cost of RPA tools such as testing tools will either be included in the consulting fee, if you are working with an established RPA firm. In that regard, you are going to pay more if there are more tests to be done.
Smaller RPA firms may have a flexible plan that gives you an option to own the production tools, or pay for your usage only. In case you opt to buy the RPA testing tools, the cost may be around $5000.
Depending on the type of RPA solution you choose, there may be additional costs related to infrastructure set-up, the configuration of the bots to allow easy monitoring and installation of the RPA in the underlying applications.
Once the RPA solution has been installed, there will be costs associated with user testing, validation of its impact in various departments, and in some cases, a change in the management of the automation solution.
The cost of training includes capability training, training of the RPA analysts and developers, and enterprise standards and guidelines training. Any other additional training as directed by the Enterprise Technology Architecture and Shared Capabilities (ETASC) executive, will also increase training costs.
Some vendors will charge you for maintaining your infrastructure, which is sometimes necessary after OEM system upgrades. For example, if you choose to upgrade your PCs,, you may have to pay your vendor to update your RPA solution.
There could be additional costs if your RPA has a server component.
Since RPA bots reside in existing software applications, any upgrade to the software means the bot may require an upgrade as well. If you choose to upgrade your existing software, you will also incur additional development costs.
You may also have to pay for incident management if your software upgrades are causing the RPA bots to malfunction.
During the lifetime of the automation solution, there will be additional costs related to improving the solution on various automation levels, and integrating it to other production areas. These costs may include:
Infrastructure costs include the cost of licensing, bot hosting costs, and storage and monitoring costs. The cost is usually higher if you pay per user or choose a short term subscription.
A vendor’s pricing-model and mode of deployment (cloud-based or an in-house), is what will determine the cost of the license. Cloud-based deployment may cost less if bundled, while in-house deployment can be cheaper if you choose a long-term commitment.
The typical long-term commitment is about 5 years, after which the vendor may no longer offer any support.
The number of servers or Hosted Virtual Desktops on which the RPA software will reside can be used to determine the cost of automation. The hosting solution will determine whether the automation process will be standard or high-performance.
The Bot monitoring system needs disk space to store any logs and performance messages. Typically, NAS storage is needed for centralized monitoring, and it is managed and provided by the IT infrastructure. The storage cost is an important part of the RPA implementation cost.
The RPA vendor usually provides the RPA management console, and it is useful for monitoring work status and robot health. It is also useful for prioritization, orchestration, and management of automated tasks.
RPA does not have a standard unit of measurement because bots, which are the basic RPA units, are not standardized. A bot from one vendor is different from a bot from another vendor.
A bot is not equal to the number of lines of code, Full-Time-Equivalents (FETs) or Talent and Engagement (T&E), which are common input-pricing measures in businesses.
It is hard to compare RPA products from different companies because they have different pricing configurations. Most providers use a derivative of the “number of bots” or more recently, output-pricing models.
None of those models is a standard yet. Therefore, we still do not have a way to compare apples-to-apples when it comes to RPA pricing.
Most RPA products are priced rigidly because neither buyers nor vendors are yet to put a number on automation. That leaves vendors with greater leeway in deciding how much value businesses are drawing from RPA products.
It can be misleading to consider RPA licensing costs as the only cost of business automation. As we have discussed above, there are other costs such as implementation, training, and administration costs.
Often, licensing will cost about 30% at most, during the lifetime of the RPA solution. It is therefore important to correctly factor in such costs to calculate the ROI correctly.
According to a survey carried out by Deloitte in 2018, 53% of the respondents said they had started implementing RPA in their production processes.
If that trend continues, by 2025, most businesses will have achieved as much as 97% RPA automation, thereby significantly lowering operating costs with minimal investment.
Most of the businesses that have achieved RPA automation have opted for a simplified approach to RPA automation.
Most ready to deploy RPA solutions have been made to automate manual tasks being executed on widely used new-age solutions. These solutions cost much less and take a shorter time to implement.
On the other hand, custom-built software requires bespoke development and high-end scripting to automate. It will, therefore, cost you more to implement RPA in your organization if you are using unique or modified legacy software.
However, whether you are using standard or modified legacy software, the resulting efficiencies will help you to recoup the cost of RPA implementation. It is typical to recoup RPA investment within 12 months of implementation.
Once you implement RPA, there will be immediate additional costs such as giving redundant workers a severance package. You may also want to retrain and deploy them in other sections of your business.
Even without giving redundant employees a severance package, paying them after giving them a dismissal notice is still an additional cost. While those costs may be indirect, they are going to have an impact on the overall cost of implementation.
The initial management costs of RPA will be minimal, but they will gradually increase as you deploy more bots. Once the RPA automation is spread out in different departments such as accounting, HR, Sales, Engineering, and others, you will need a dedicated person to oversee them.
However, the cost of RPA management will still be insignificant compared to executing the automated tasks manually. For most organizations, it is worth it because RPA can free as much as 81% FTEs.
The best RPA unit that we can recommend for RPA pricing is bot time. Bots do the same work that humans do, but at a much greater speed, and in an error-free manner. The main benefit of using bots lies in their ability to work fast and efficiently.