As robotic process automation (RPA) gains more and more impetus, it’s important to distinguish between what’s hype and what’s not. While of course there’s always great promotion surrounding the introduction and development around Robotic Process Automation, not everything is hype, and many businesses are seeing significant value from the use of RPA.You’ll see a lot of these statements repeated in some form or other in various RPA discussions.
- Significant cost reduction almost to the tune of 50-80% reduction.
- It’s easy to get started. No special skills required. Even the process executives can ‘train’ the bot
- By extension, this is not coding and doesn’t need formal processes/change management
- RPA can automate (almost) any manual process
However, the truth is not as simple as projected. Yes, there are cases where RPA has delivered considerable savings in record times, but there are several more cases of failed RPA initiative. Failure could be on multiple fronts:
- Not realizing the ROI. This is typical because 30% effort reduction does not translate into 30% cost saves.
- Robots leave out corner cases and automate only the ‘happy path.’ These results in several exceptions that the process executives need to handle.
- The pilot was successful, but the bots aren’t able to scale. When deployed at large, there is chaos.
- The technical truth that some applications or business processes are easier to automate than others.
The harsh reality is that RPA is no magic bullet. Like any technology advancement, full benefits can be achieved only by fully understanding the technology and adapting to it. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has advanced significantly in the last few years, but prospective users need to overcome the hype to apply this emerging technology efficiently. By interacting with existing software systems at the level of the graphical user interface, RPA can bring about a “virtual integration” of multiple systems while executing repetitive work more accurately and reliably than humans can.
Most common ways to achieve successful RPA adoption are:
- Not to lose focus on the end goal. The project is not only about implementing RPA but delivering value. This means more collaboration and coordination with all related units and the right governance to facilitate this collaboration.
- RPA is one of the tools in the toolkit and not the only tool. Even where RPA is adopted, look at streamlining, simplifying and documenting the processes and the exceptions.
- Get the IT organization on board before embarking on the RPA journey. After all, the people in the organization will ultimately be responsible for a whole new technological layer, not just the robots, but the associated VMs and servers, the support, audit and security implications. Proper processes should be in place around these aspects before the bots are deployed at scale.
- Similarly get the process executives and support personnel on board. Their sense of ownership of the RPA initiative will decide the success or failure of the initiative. They are the ones who know every corner case and every trick in the book to get things done. They are the ones who would need to jump in if the bots fail, and they should look at bots as their creation which they will train better to ensure they don’t fail in the future, rather than looking at bots as a nuisance.
- To ensure that the employees are firmly on board the initiative, have open communication with them. Ensure that their fears are addressed, and they see bots as software assistants that will help them with mundane tasks while they focus on delivering value. Make the owners of the initiative.
- And finally, have a plan to translate the effort reduction to cost reduction effect. Look at ways of using the spare capacity for higher value work, to reduce external consultants, to expand the business, to offer services to other companies. In short, look at ways of transforming the company.
RPA is continuously evolving in areas like non-digital input types, machine learning, and natural language. The reality is that RPA needs to be addressed as part of a broad set of tools. The use of tools must be balanced with more direct ways of automation to get the best mix, thereby achieving maximum impact on the overall agility of the organization to respond to challenges in its environment.
Contact us today for more information on Robotic Process Automation.
Hitesh Sarda-Vice President – Banking and Financial Services@YASH Technologies