Software Libraries: Do They Really Work?

Software Libraries: Do They Really Work?

February 15, 2022

Libraries by their very nature are brilliant resources with so much knowledge and a never-ending subject list that tapping into it all is more than a life’s work.

But, with all that information it’s easy to get lost and even easier to find something that isn’t actually useful to you. Just like the brick-and-mortar outfits, software libraries are much the same. They’re cool and have value at a basic level but beyond that, they begin to struggle.

Here’s where we’re at with them.

Hot Take

As always, this is just our opinion and there are others in the industry who really back software libraries. But it’s our belief that these repositories for automation don’t really, truly, serve people to the fullest. Like many things today people want a quick fix, a shortcut, 10 tips to…, but in reality, there aren’t shortcuts or a one-size-fits-all approach that is going to work with RPA.

Window to Another World

One advantage we will concede is that it often opens the door to what is possible with technology. If you’re in a tech-phobic business or have stakeholders who just don’t want to know, the low-hanging fruit of pre-built automation to demonstrate potential is a great starting point – especially for simple tasks.

Easing Pickings

Software libraries within a business actually make a lot of sense, particularly in very large organizations – such as SAP, TCS, and Cognizant. If your developers can quickly grab something pre-built to your standards and then tweak it to fit the scenario then that’s a win. Providing things are documented and controlled properly this approach speeds up development and implementation. In fact, it epitomizes the purpose of a library – to build on shared knowledge.

Generally Too General

So we’ve covered the good now for the less good and actually it’s just one thing – software libraries lack specificity. Don’t get us wrong, there are libraries teeming with highly niche automations but none of them will work for your business without significant tweaks.

That’s the drawback and it stems from the very nature of good automation is its granularity. Your process should be close to perfect and should fit your needs precisely, in turn, the automation needs to be built in the same way. For automation, one-size-fits-all actually fits no one.

Unlike an Open Book

Abbyy is a popular library for all sorts of automation including intelligent document processing. Using a piece of their software as an example they saw that their US invoice processor couldn’t read EU invoices because the formatting is different. Let’s take it a step further and imagine Spanish invoices, perhaps, differ from the rest of Europe. This is a really high-level example and already we’re seeing deviations. Automation needs to be built for a single process at a time.

The bottom line is that you can’t build automation with a few clicks. Using a simple fix devalues the complexity of the problem you’re solving. To get the value from automation that is most definitely there, you need to add specificity. And while a library can be great if you need to find a basic template, there’s a good chance that to understand how to make them work for your business, you need an expert.

Keen to discover the power of automation for your business? Contact PAteam today!

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