The wave of automation across businesses is at a peak. The feasibility brought in by technologies like robotics process automation (RPA) is evidently increasing operational efficiency in more and more enterprises. Amid this, not all of them are able to implement RPA tools that complement their business strategy; hence some implementations have faltered. The lines of business weren’t able to contemplate all of the technical and governance issues or IT built a solution that doesn’t really align with business needs. In such cases, the odds of RPA success become extremely less.
Business and IT leaders, as well as process owners, should work together within the context of an enterprise automation strategy.
Where some businesses successfully implement a solution quickly, RPA implementations can run into issues that exceed any one department’s expertise in some cases. More fundamentally, piecemeal adoption may work against a coherent enterprise automation strategy.
Gina Schaefer, managing director, and intelligent automation lead at Deloitte Consulting said, “We saw some bad, bad outcomes from that. Business leaders tried having financial analysts write automation, but there is a whole litany of reasons why it doesn’t make sense [including] the time it takes, the license consumption, the security, and cyber risk issues. Those things outweigh the potential benefit.”
However, the ease of RPA implementation is attractive and compelling but it should not be the only reason that businesses need to consider.
Jay Jamison, chief product and technology officer at low-code solution provider Quick Base said, “Our point of view is that just because an RPA tool or a low-code platform has ‘no-code’ or ‘visual development’ features does not mean anyone can do it. Rather, it typically means someone who has the technical expertise to do it, can do it faster and with less hassle. Most RPA tools require an IT trained resource to operate.”
Moreover, if IT is not working in alignment with the business needs, in such a case solution may miss the mark as well.
Deloitte’s Schaefer further added, “It’s really disconnected from the business perspectives. They go to a marketplace and say, ‘Who can build the cheapest robot?’ in a race to commoditize for the least common denominator.”
As RPA can cause impressive wins such as blazing through contract reviews faster and more accurately than humans can, automation is an important element of digital transformation, which is an enterprise-level endeavor.
Furthermore, Forrester Research stated in a recent report sponsored by RPA vendor UIpath that, “Automation is advancing faster than the enterprise knowledge required to support it,” which means that “organizations must adapt their change management approaches to consider culture, skills, and organizational structures to best realize their full potential.”
What are the ways to increase the odds of RPA success?
The idea behind RPA investment is to achieve greater organizational efficiency. Forrester estimates that the RPA services market will grow to US$12 billion by 2023. Over the longer term, some jobs will be completely automated, new jobs will be created and others will be transformed.
To guide organizations through their next business undertaking, Deloitte often demonstrates what other organizations are doing and shares research findings of where organizations are investing their automation budgets. For key or strategic business practices, Deloitte may use a disruptive design approach that focuses on the outcome of a process instead of the task as it exists today.
“There’s a lot of, ‘I just want a robot.’ The first conversation we have is what are your goals, your vision, your objective?” said Schaefer. “Look at where you can have a strategic impact with this, and then of course labor savings or optimizing the time of precious resources.”
Moreover, Tom Taulli, author of The Robotic Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Implementing RPA Systems, also encourages the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
Taulli said, “IT does not necessarily have to lead a project [but] the department should be part of the process from the start. IT will be essential for compliance, security [and] access to online resources and so on. They will also help to build a foundation to scale the RPA system, which, by the way, can be extremely tough to pull off.”
Tata Consultancy Services advocates an automation office (AO) model.
“The only way to view RPA strategically is as part of the intelligent automation strategy. It should be driven by an AO model which is steered by both business and IT with the partner ecosystem. The AO construct also accounts for the business case and measurement of the success thereof. But once the nuances of the intelligent automation solution mix and the organization are understood and you have a partner that has an established framework for this, it becomes easier and quicker to adopt,” said PR Krishnan, global head of enterprise intelligence automation & AI at Tata Consultancy Services.
Krishnan further added, “The intelligent automation strategy needs to be more holistic, addressing the heterogeneity of products existing within the ecosystem, [the] granularity of processes and industrializing AI throughout the enterprise. While the ownership of this strategy may lie with a business leader, a CIO or CMO, it is important to recognize the partnerships — both internal and external — that will effectively determine the success of the program.”