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Publication date: June 13, 2018

Robotic Process Automation – RPA Pitfalls

RPA can bring many benefits to an organization, but there are also pitfalls.

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Written by Angela Polania

Angela Polania, CPA, CISM, CISA, CRISC, HITRUST, CMMC RP. Angela is the Managing Principal at Elevate and board member, and treasurer at the CIO Council of South Florida.

First, not all processes are candidates for RPA and those that are, are typically part of a short-term solution that requires continuous maintenance. Employees could also show resistance to an RPA implementation.

Thus, it is important to ensure that the selection criteria make sense

Not all processes are candidates for RPA; in fact, to be considered for RPA, a process should be repetitive, high-volume, rules-based, and mature. For instance, processes that rely mostly on human judgment may not be candidates for RPA. Hence, organizations should assess their own operations and identify the processes that best fit RPA criteria to avoid falling short of expectations.

A short-term or long-term solution

It is important to keep in mind that RPA is not intended to improve end-to-end processes.  Rather, RPA is great at automating tasks or processes that are part of an internal journey. In some cases, RPA can create bottlenecks in areas that are not capable of handling the increased throughput created by automation. Before automating processes via RPA, it is critical to first map-out end-to-end processes to see the big picture and to implement the optimal automation solution. Ideally, RPA should be included as part of a long-term digitization strategy.  Bots could support a complex ecosystem, in the short-term or in conjunction with intelligent Process Automation in the near future.

Continuous Maintenance

In addition, bots require continuous maintenance to be able to run without issues. It is possible for multiple bots to suddenly fail as a result of changes in dependent systems. If employees are not aware of the interdependencies between the IT system and RPA process, robotic processes are at risk of failing at any given time. However, such risk could be mitigated by incorporating RPA projects into the change management system and by properly training employees on RPA.

Employee Resistance

As with any type of automation, it is common for an organization to experience employee resistance. This could be due to resistance to change, fear of losing their job, or other uncertainties. On the contrary, RPA can improve the quality of work by taking care of redundant processes and freeing employees’ time to work on value-added tasks. An RPA change management strategy should be designed and implemented to incorporate RPA into an organization. Once employees understand the benefits of RPA and how it impacts them, resistance can be minimized.  However, every company is different and hence it truly depends on the culture.

Conclusion

Even with its own disadvantages, RPA has many benefits that should not be overlooked. Organizations should take a close look at their operations to assess their readiness for RPA automation.

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