26/09/2017

Adopting Robotic Process Automation – Five Things to Keep in Mind in the Procurement Contract

Just like an automated player piano repeats the same predetermined song over and over again, an automated software process robot repeats the same preprogramed task. Robotic process automation (RPA) automates routine employee tasks and processes according to pre-set commands. RPA functions by copying human actions and could be called a virtual or digital employee.

RPA is well suited, for example, to invoice and payment data processing in financial administration or to customer feedback processing and management.

I have listed five things for companies to keep in mind when drafting an RPA procurement contract.

Make Sure RPA is Compatible with Your other Software

RPA functions by making use of the software you are already using in your company. This means that you have to make sure that the licence terms and conditions of the software you are using do not prohibit or restrict the use of RPA. You should add a clause to the procurement agreement stating that RPA is compatible with the software in use by your company.

Agree on Liability

It is critical to make sure that the procurement agreement sets out liability issues in case RPA does not perform as expected and produces incorrect results. It is particularly important to agree on liability issues if you are using RPA to replace key business functions.

The compatibility issues mentioned above also relate to liability, in other words, it is important for the parties to agree on how to respond to potential infringement claims with respect to third-party software. 

Prepare for Changes

When the software being used by a company is changed, updated or replaced, the need to change the functioning principles of any RPA in use must also be assessed. In order to make sure that your RPA keeps functioning, the procurement agreement should include clauses on reconfiguring the RPA command rules due to changes in the company’s software and IT-systems. 

Support and Maintenance

In addition to preparing for change situations, you need to agree on the response and repair times for RPA defects. It is a good idea to agree on an alternative process to immediately replace RPA if it does not function as expected in a key business task in order to prevent business interruptions.

One option is for the company itself to prepare a backup plan and implement it, for example, by maintaining its employees’ expertise with respect to the automated processes. 

Prepare for Changes to Licence Metrics

The successful adoption on a RPA could affect the number of software licences used by a company. Successfully implementing RPA could lead to a reduced requirement for ERP or CRM licences. If RPA has replaced employee input, you will need to agree on changes to licence numbers with third-party software providers.