The history of RPA is not long at all. In May 2013, a McKinsey report included ‘advanced robotics’ among the disruptive technologies, those expected to “transform life, business, and the global economy”.
According to UiPath, 2014 was the moment when robotic process automation started to be a significant competitor to business process outsourcing. Afterward, it took only two more years until it started to be institutionalized by business companies.
Where are we today? We are at a point where both adoption and scaling have advanced tremendously, and RPA has reached new levels of maturity, becoming a must for companies determined to pursue a real competitive advantage.
To put it differently, many enterprises have learned by now efficient ways to overcome the challenges of RPA implementation and deployment, and automation has evolved into a core technology.
In order to ensure some common ground, we’ll start with our favourite working definition of RPA, as a very useful tool for maximally efficient use of a company’s resources, where ‘tool’ stands for both software and services.
What are the outcomes of this ‘maximally efficient use of resources’?
According to McKinsey, RPA can bring about a quick and robust ROI, i.e., up to 200% in the first year of deployment, and 20–25% cost savings.
But the benefits go beyond the financial ones; consider rapid scalability to demand spikes, headcount flexibility, improved risk, compliance, and audit management. Perhaps the most important consequence of automation is a human-centered way of doing business, which makes both the customers and the employees more satisfied with improved services and by higher-value tasks, respectively.
If you are still at the beginning of your automation journey and you feel a little out of your depth in the attempt to deal efficiently with the challenges to implementing RPA, we wrote an ebook meant to assist you in making savvy implementation decisions.
RPA implementation challenges and how to overcome them
1. Starting with reasonable expectations
Given the RPA hype, it is easy to fall prey to an over-enthusiastic perspective. But keeping your feet on the ground is crucial because of the large-scale impact on the assessment of the outcomes of automation, and hence, on subsequent decisions regarding scaling up to enterprise level. A helpful way to do this is to start with a clear hierarchy of business objectives, and then figure out how exactly RPA can help to attain them.
2. Managing employees’ resistance
The “robots will steal our jobs” narrative, often used as a typical robotic process automation objection, is the core reason for the staff’s lack of willingness to accept new technologies.
Prior to engaging in the automation project, you should educate them regarding what software robots can and cannot do, and help them understand that the bots are to be seen as helping, and not as hindering, the current work roles. Moreover, you should invest in training employees regularly, as the ‘automation era’ will likely require them to acquire new skills.