Robotic process automation (RPA) is a trending topic in the world of software as a service (SaaS), and so many organizations have seen some serious ROI after implementing RPA technology. Increased efficiency, transparency, accuracy and accountability, as well as time savings and the ability to become more competitive in the market are all common benefits of integrating RPA with an existing ERP system.
However, RPA vendors also recognize that there are many RPA implementation projects that fail, or that don’t generate the expected ROI. This does not mean that the technology is bad or that the vendor did not deploy it correctly. Below are some common RPA implementation problems, in addition to some of the most effective fixes to get your team on-track toward a smooth integration.
Problem 1: Bad Procedures
Many believe that implementing RPA will be an automatic fix to their bad, inefficient processes. Unfortunately, this is not the case. RPA does not fix bad processes, it only makes the bad processes faster. It’s important that companies work with their RPA vendor to analyze their processes prior to integrating the technology to make sure their procedures are streamlined even before RPA.
Fix 1: Think Strategically
Start implementing automation in the areas of your enterprise where you know you can experience the most substantial ROI. You can always expand across the enterprise and continue with a full digital transformation, but it won't happen overnight. Being strategic with your software solutions is essential in order to move other parts of your company into the automated world in the future.
Problem 2: Automating Complex Processes
It may be called robotic process automation, but RPA is best used to automate specific tasks rather than entire processes. Unfortunately, companies don’t always look at it this way and see automation as a chance to get the entire company on the robotics bandwagon. Companies often underestimate how complex the processes that they are trying to automate are. Companies may get discouraged when they try to automate an entire process and it doesn't work, and they occasionally abandon the project altogether. The most success will be seen when simple, tedious tasks are automated.
Fix 2: Humans and Robots Working Together
RPA can’t eliminate all human intervention – and you don’t want it to! Humans are a valuable part of your organization, and you want to keep them around. By using RPA to automate the manual, repetitive processes, it frees up your staff to focus on more high-value work that requires decision-making and a more strategic approach. RPA is smart, but your employees are smarter.
Problem 3: Too Much Automation at One Time
Once you start experiencing the benefits of automation, it’s hard to stop. A successful automation implementation results when RPA is integrated into processes that are already streamlined, but are currently human-intensive and manual. RPA can’t deliver results when it is disjointed, so companies should focus on a specific, manual, repetitive task and start and continue to look for other opportunities to automate down the road. Slow and steady!
Fix 3: Focus on Basic Automation
Look at the flow of your organization. What are the basic tasks that each part of your organization is doing? By integrating RPA into specific parts of the organization and focusing on basic automation, you can eventually achieve a bigger digital transformation and end-to-end automation. In order to do this, you need to define what success looks like. Success may not be achieving high ROI right out of the gate, or achieving total company digital transformation. For the first six months or one year, success may be eliminating paper, increasing efficiency or freeing up your staff’s time. Start with the basics.
Problem 4: Choosing the Wrong System
Oftentimes, a failed implementation comes about because an organization chose the wrong RPA vendor. This may include going with a vendor that is either too robust or too simplistic for their needs, or one that is module-based rather than comprehensive. These systems often don't have things like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) built in, or that charge per invoice. The costs of systems like these can add up fast, and the functionality may not be adequate for a business's needs.
Simple: Do your research! Attend webinars, talk with vendors, make lists, ask for references and read up on the vendors you're considering. Knowing what functionality is included in the system, what their ongoing support plans are and how they've helped companies similar to yours is essential. It's also helpful to be prepared with a list of goals so that you can approach vendors with these and discuss the specific areas of your business that you want to address.
So if you’re thinking about automating RPA, don’t let the problems discourage you! With some planning, a strategic approach and some boundaries in place, you can set yourself and your organization up for a successful RPA implementation.