One hundred and twenty-four.

That’s how many RPA software tools are listed on G2, the B2B software review website, as of this writing.

And that number is growing fast, as the global robotic process automation market size is expected to expand from $1.40 billion in 2019 to $11 billion by 2027.

With all this choice, it’s no wonder B2B leaders struggle to choose the best RPA tool for business process automation.

We get a common question here at Thrive Automation: “What is the best RPA software?” The answer, of course, is that it depends: on your business model, use case, intended goals, budget, internal team resources, and skill level.

But before we choose the right one for your needs, let’s quickly dig into what RPA is and how it works.

What is RPA technology?

Robotic process automation involves taking a manual business process and automating it through a software robot (or ‘bot’ for short), thereby freeing human resources to focus on higher-value work.

These bots form part of your digital workforce and use a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and rule-based automation to reduce human error, improve efficiency, and win back time.

Here are just a few ideas of what RPA bots can do:

  • Recognize and extract data from documents
  • Collect statistics from systems
  • Open emails and attachments
  • Move files and folders
  • Copy and paste data
  • Follow if-then rules
  • Make calculations
  • Reconcile data
  • Fill out forms
  • Scrape data

An RPA robot can work around the clock, essentially delivering automation anywhere it’s needed in the business at any time. With the right RPA implementation in place, you can start seeing results in just a few weeks or months.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand the different types of RPA platforms out there, their limitations, and how to decide on the best automation opportunity for your business using our evaluation criteria. But before we jump into that, let’s set the stage with some context:

The risks of choosing the wrong RPA platform

There’s lots of information out there about the benefits of RPA and best practices for RPA adoption, but little about the risks of choosing the wrong platform. Making the wrong RPA tool selection leads to:

  1. Low adoption in the organization: If teams across your organization don’t see the value of your chosen RPA software, it can lower adoption rates and lead to siloed workflows, like IT deploying it for their processes while Sales sticks to doing things manually. Down the line, this leads to misaligned productivity rates and lagging business processes.
  2. Delayed RPA deployment: A hard-to-use RPA platform that requires complex implementation and lots of training may delay your RPA journey. Each passing week means continued profit and productivity losses.
  3. Technical glitches: A poorly maintained RPA tool may cause technical glitches on mission-critical processes. The risk of delayed deliverables and disarray is not worth the investment and may negatively affect your RPA project.
  4. Security issues: Your RPA platform should protect your data and processes from unauthorized access, erasure, or changes. The right RPA tool comes with robust security built-in.
  5. Poor compliance: RPA deployment should not come at the expense of compliance standards. Good RPA software lets you build process bots that comply with internal and external audit requirements.
  6. Increased process complexity: You’re buying RPA software to make your team’s life easier, not harder. Clunky, complex RPA software merely forces your team to spend more time fixing flawed processes than getting work done.
  7. Poor service: Going with the wrong RPA vendor or RPA developer can lead to customer service headaches down the line.
    With that context, let’s now look at how RPA platforms are different and how to choose the best RPA solution for your business.

3 key elements of RPA software

There are three key elements of RPA software to keep in mind as you consider your next tool. These are:

  1. Programming options (no-code/low-code vs. programmable or code-based)
  2. Cognitive abilities (none vs. built-in vs. marketplace-supported)
  3. Usage (attended vs. unattended vs. hybrid)

Programming options

To automate your business processes using RPA software, you must first program the RPA bots you’ll use. There are four ways to do this:

  1. Low code/no code RPA tools – Drag and drop bot builders are best for teams with no coding experience.
  2. Self-learning RPA tools – These observe employee workflows and learn what to automate.
  3. Coding RPA bots manually – Offers the greatest flexibility and best for teams with skilled developers on board.
  4. Recording screen actions – Like macros, you feed the bot with a recorded set of actions it can run later.

Cognitive capabilities

With cognitive automation (also known as intelligent automation), programmed bots determine their actions based on gathered inputs from other applications. An example is leveraging public records, handwritten customer input, and scanned documents to perform required ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) checks for a bank.

RPA tools may provide zero cognitive capabilities, offer built-in cognitive capabilities, or work with marketplace-supported cognitive capabilities from third-party developers.


We can broadly classify RPA tasks as ‘attended automation,’ ‘unattended automation,’ and ‘hybrid automation.’ Different RPA tools are optimized for different types of tasks.

Attended tasks require an employee to run them. An example is a call center specialist running an automated process to get customer info from SAP and Salesforce before responding to a call. While they facilitate decision-making and boost productivity, attended tasks may lock up computer resources during runtime.

Unattended tasks integrate with existing computer software and can be triggered in the background without employee intervention from another system or service, or on a schedule. A great example is an automated invoice processing or expense approval system.

Hybrid systems combine the power of attended and unattended RPA systems to deliver tasks that can run automatically in the background and handoff to an employee when needed. An example is a cash reimbursement automation that processes expense reports and awaits managerial approval before proceeding.

How to pick the right RPA software for your business

There are a few questions to ask before choosing your next RPA platform. Share these with your team during your next planning session to gather as much information as possible and make an informed decision.

#1 Which tasks do we need to automate, and how complex are they?

RPA technology isn’t a magic pill that works across your business. It is best for accessing web enterprise apps, collecting data from various applications, copying and pasting data, extracting structured data from documents, and processing emails and attachments.

RPA is not a good fit for creating annotations for data variance, making subjective decisions, or performing exploratory data analysis.

#2 Do we have the in-house skills and resources to train employees to program bots? 

If you have a limited team with no specialized programming knowledge, you’re better off with a low code or no code RPA tool. Consider a fully programmable RPA tool if you have a well-staffed and technically-skilled team. Thrive Automation can support your team, regardless of their technical proficiency.

#3 How much task visibility do we need? 

With centralized deployments, the best RPA solutions offer broad visibility into what each of your digital workers is doing, how they are performing over time, and what bottlenecks you need to resolve.

#4 How many tools do we need to integrate our RPA bots with? 

For organizations with multiple tools in their tech stack, comprehensive integration ensures uninterrupted workflows and seamless handoffs with minimal human intervention.

#5 Which operating systems do our machines use? 

Most RPA software can handle task automation on Microsoft Windows, but many have limited or no support for macOS or Linux systems. This might limit your pool of tools, so plan accordingly. To avoid operating system limitations, consider using web-based  RPA applications.

#6 What’s our budget? 

There’s an ongoing cost to deploying and maintaining RPA and training your employees. Having an adequate budget ensures mission-critical tasks don’t get suspended mid-cycle. You can choose between flat-fee and consumption-based RPA pricing.

#7 What risks should we mitigate? 

Specific RPA solutions (like screen recording RPA tools) may present security risks by requiring access to login credentials and sensitive data. Other forms of automation may need to comply with your internal governance and compliance processes.

#8 How many teams within the organization need an RPA solution? 

Smaller teams may result in faster implementation and reduced costs, while more comprehensive implementation may cost more and take longer to accomplish.

#9 How scalable do we need the RPA solution to be? 

As your workflows increase or become more complex, you’ll need an RPA tool that can match your scale. You may hit the ceiling on scalability and flexibility if you use a rudimentary or legacy RPA solution for your business.

#10 How much support do we need? 

The best RPA solutions come with stellar customer support to answer any queries you may have before, during, or after implementation. Software review sites can provide insight into which RPA tools and vendors are best known for their product support.

For example, Thrive Automation’s Thrive Care provides extra support to any team that requires it. We offer custom training and an education package that demonstrates bot operation. Our team can also monitor and manage key operating parameters and conditions, while also providing on-call support for attended bots.

Choose the best RPA software for your business today

Having more options for RPA services increases analysis paralysis, but the stakes have never been higher to get your automation tool selection right.

At Thrive Automation, we specialize in helping businesses find and implement the best RPA solution for their needs. Our RPA developers specialize in programming and customizing bots to carry out specific jobs that humans typically perform.

These bots work faster, more accurately, and more efficiently, seven days a week. We can teach your bots different workflows to help you with data validation, data transfer, user notifications, procurement management, hiring and onboarding, and more.

And because not all companies are created equal, either, we customize workflows based on your company’s specific processes and goals. You can pick from either of our best-in-class solutions for your RPA initiative.

Contact us today for a free, no-commitment consultation to understand how Thrive Automation can help your business drive change.

Learn More About Our Unique Services Designed to Meet Your Individual RPA Needs

Learn More about our RPA Services