Despite Setbacks in RPA Implementation, Organizations Find an Exit Door

Despite Setbacks in RPA Implementation, Organizations Find an Exit Door

Over the past few years, robotic process automation (RPA) has been widely adopted and implemented by organizations around the world, creating a seismic change in the workplace. With RPA's promise of increased productivity, lower costs, and improved customer experiences, it should come as no surprise that so many organizations have been quick to jump on the automation bandwagon.

Unfortunately, growing pains and failed expectations have become commonplace. A recent report by EY estimates that as many as half of all automation initiatives have failed to meet their objectives due to a cycle of seemingly constant RPA breaks, downtime, and labor-intensive maintenance and support.

In response to these challenges, organizations deploying RPA and industry insiders alike have begun calling for a standard way to describe what each process to be automated does in a way that all automation tools can understand.Standardization would directly address the fact that, at present, all RPA platforms and the complementary tools that occupy different points along the automation value chain (such as process discovery, process/task mining, and iBPMN tools) describe and specify process automation details differently.A common means to specify this would not only dramatically improve interoperability, but would alsohelp RPA users to capture maximum value from their automation efforts and scale it across the entire organization.

The consequences of not having a standard for specifying process automations can be felt in everything from stalled automation pipelines to vendor lock-in. Look, for example, at process discovery tools, a key component of any automation toolchain.Process discovery providers currently markup discovered processes in proprietary formats. Before those processes can ever move through to execution in any target RPA platform, a sizeable effort is needed on the part of the user to manually transcribe them, which is both time- and labor-intensive. It can also lead to errors in the transcription process,requiring costly rework before deployment, all of which slowsimplementation and undercuts anticipated gains in productivity.

Similarly, because each major RPA vendor has its ownproprietary approach for describing automations, the ability to open, read, and act on automation project files is currently limited to the automation platform a company is using. This makes it next to impossible for a user to change RPA vendors without starting the entire automation process over by rebuilding each bot, which is cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. As a result, a user who is dissatisfied with the performance of their RPA vendor or has identified a preferable platform option has little choice but to remain with their current vendor.

This situation could be even worse if an RPA vendor goes out of business. With no universal industry design standards, it would mean that any RPA program using that vendor's software would have to rebuild their entire automation portfolio from the ground up, regardless of how much time or money it takes.

To better understand what can be gained by establishing a set of RPA design standards to promote interoperability, portability, and the growth of customer success, the PDF (or Portable Document Format) provides a great case in point. When Adobe released the PDF as an open standard, the ability to save it in any word processor and open it in a myriad of other tools unlocked a form cooperation that was previously impossible to attain, paving the way to the paperless office and digital transformations in businesses everywhere.

There is no reason why the RPA market can't get to that same level. Establishing a universally accepted automation design standard can connect commonalities in a portable automation format that is understandable across the board, regardless of the RPA vendor.

Specifically, a set of established RPA standards would allow users to design their automated processes once, run them on any automation platform they choose, and easily migrate digital workforces from one platform to another. In this way, users will never have to worry about being locked in to using a vendor with which they're unhappy. And should a vendor go out of business, the user will no longer be forced to restart their entire automation process from square one. So long as the user is happy with their RPA ecosystem as currently deployed, a new vendor can simply pick up where the former vendor left off.

Because there would be no need to understand the technical details of an automation platform, established RPA design standards would also separate automation design from implementation. All of this will empower usersto accelerate their digital transformations and shift their human workers into more meaningful tasks.

While a great deal of progress has already been made into unlocking RPA's true potential, a universal set of design standards that creates a common automation format could take the market to the next level. Well-defined standards would make compatibility, interoperability, and portability an integral part of every RPA deployment. More important, establishing a set of design standards so desperately missing from the RPA landscape will drive greater user efficiency and generate the kind of return on investment that was originally anticipated.

Tony Higgins is the Chief Product Officer at Blueprint Software Systems and is responsible for the vision and evolution of Blueprint's Enterprise Automation Suite, a powerful digital process design and management solution that enables enterprise organizations to identify, design, and manage high-value automations with speed and precision in order to scale the scope and impact of their RPA initiatives. Tony has a broad base of software delivery skills and experience ranging from start-ups to global enterprises, and is passionate about building technology that helps teams to rapidly optimize, automate, and digitally transform their organizations.For more information, visit

By Tony Higgins 

Chief Product Officer, Blueprint Software Systems

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