This article was initially published in March 2018 and has been updated in January 2021.

According to UiPath, 2014 was the year when robotic process automation (RPA) started to become a significant competitor to business process outsourcing (BPO). Two short years later, it was already being institutionalised by business companies.

Fast forward to today, many enterprises have learned efficient ways to identify and avoid robotic process automation pitfalls, and automation has evolved into a core technology. Furthermore, RPA can make a significant contribution to the minimisation of business disruption due to the COVID-19-related restrictions. After helping several customers manage the shift to remote working, we wrote an article about how RPA can help you conquer the ‘new normal’ after COVID-19.

A question from potential customers remains, either as they begin to evaluate their robotic process automation project or attempt to get started by automating their first process: how can we avoid common RPA pitfalls? We hope that this article will help you foresee some of the most common missteps related to your RPA implementation.

In order to implement RPA “the smart way” and take the most advantage of it, you should be aware of the robotic process automation pitfalls from the very beginning.

We must all acknowledge and take seriously the fallibility of our endeavours, and, consequently, we should not allow ourselves to indulge in surreal expectations. The simple truth is that sometimes projects fail, for a very large number of reasons. According to IBM Systems Magazine, up to 25% of technological projects fail downright, while up to half of them require extensive revisions by the time they are set to go.

Bernard Marr writes in Forbes adds that more than half of the technological failures are in fact due to poor management, and only 3% are caused by technical problems. DIfficulties may also arise from not choosing the right processes to automate.Here are 8 questions to ask that should ease decision making in this regard.

So let us now delve a little deeper into potential robotic process automation pitfalls and corresponding means to avoid them in the course of implementing RPA.

Forethought is definitely needed for good results and successful RPA implementation. Of course you should first spell out what ‘successful’ means; but for now, let us tackle the question about what could go wrong during the implementation of your software robots. Here is a list of 7 aspects that ought to be considered and/or avoided if you want to stay safe from robotic process automation pitfalls.

1. Not choosing the right processes to automate in the beginning

A piece of advice courtesy of Cem Dilmegani, CEO at appliedAI, is that you should consider features like, for example, the process complexity and its business impact. Briefly put, you should perform a cost — benefit analysis of automating the candidate processes, based on what you consider to be your top goals.

2. Trying to implement robotic process automation on your own

Division of labour is with us for good reasons, so you must not forget to delegate the responsibility of implementation to the specialists who can best handle it. Tony Warren, executive vice president, head of strategy and solutions management at FIS, mentions things like “technical maintenance, operational monitoring and the appropriate change management procedures” among the RPA services that call for the right level of expertise, which specialist implementation navigators possess.

3. Not setting clear objectives for your automation strategy

What do you need RPA for?

Relatedly, which software provider is likely to do the best job for what you need?

While uncertainties in these respects are likely to be burdensome, definite answers to such questions will facilitate a smooth transition to delegating the tedious, repetitive tasks in your business to software robots.

4. Not having a “bird’s eye view” over the implementation process

This requires a group or an individual who can watch over the whole process from the top, so to say. Some call this essential aspect “operational oversight”, others — “governance of accretion” or simply “governance”, while others emphasize how important it is to include in the responsible team not only domain-specific specialists but also someone to take over the executive role of “central process unit”. In the long run, this can take the form of a robotic process automation centre of excellence that warrants a strategic maintenance of the system.

5. Not ensuring the scalability potential of your software robots

6. Relying solely on the IT department

The bottom line is something along the lines of the phrase ‘render unto IT the things that are intrinsically IT-related (e.g. automation codes), and unto other departments the things that are better dealt with by other departments’. As Schultz puts it, “finance cannot depend on IT for RPA; it needs to be owned by the business side.”

7. Not testing your software robots thoroughly

As our own Daniel Pullen puts it, you need to test processes in production prior to full go-live to ensure there is a like-for-like behaviour between Dev and Production. This includes ensuring the applications are the same version, testing applications under normal and peak loads throughout the day, servers & applications in a server farm all behave identically (both operation and speed), etc.

Conclusion

Anticipating and planning pro-actively should take you a step closer to gloriously passing the finish line. Although the word ‘finish’ is not perfectly fit here, since what you aim for with robotic process automation is a long-term sustainable development of your enterprise. As UiPath puts it, with “a comprehensive understanding of your company’s automation needs and the value proposition RPA provides, you can ensure a successful RPA implementation scheme that is both cost-effective and timely”.

Such extensive understanding can lead you to make use of the best practices for robotic process automation implementation. Wisely selecting the processes, a plain understanding of the required human resources or reliance on an ‘RPA sponsor’ are some of those practices, on which you can read more here.

This article was originally published on the CiGen blog.

CiGen, one of the first dedicated (#RPA) #Robotic #Process #Automation companies, providing Intelligent Automation solutions and services, using @uipath