Top 10 pitfalls to avoid for a successful RPA rollout

Successful implementation of your automation projects, as well as long-term success require careful planning and strong governance. If you have already been doing RPA for a long time but are not able to scale / experiencing setbacks — don’t worry. You are not alone. Let’s discuss about some of the most common pitfalls regarding RPA with some useful tips together.

Firstly, RPA projects should align with your organization’s strategic goals and objectives. Knowledge and understanding of the strategic importance of RPA is crucial in achieving robust automation. Also, when transitioning from pilot to full roll-out, it requires preparation & long-term vision. Yet, one of the most prevalent pitfalls of RPA deployment is the lack of a strategy for dealing with automation roll-out and sustainability.

Many organizations have goal of rapid implementation, they often rely on unstable, non-scalable approaches when trying to grow RPA. As a recommendation I see RPA roll-out should start small and aim big / futuristic to be successful. It’s not easy to establish an RPA program on top of an enterprise’s existing IT infrastructure without a well-developed strategy for implementing the software from pilot to full-scale.

Executive level engagement, general change management program, engaging key stakeholders during startup phase are vital for successful RPA implementation. You should consider the different stakeholder groups in your organization and engage at all levels. Key Stakeholders include,

Executives / Senior Management — who will be able to sponsor, support and make key decisions.

Information Technology (IT) — who will provide infrastructure for automation, assessing platforms and tools, ensure the new technology has access to the core enterprise systems.

Business Stakeholders — who knows the processes inside-out and can provide valuable insight when assessing suitability for automation. Moreover, they are the audience who would get benefited from the RPA program as such.

RPA implementation does allow cost-cutting, but it seems naïve to see the technology part only from that viewpoint. Though FTE/Cost reduction is one of the key benefits, it’s importance will soon defer to other long-lasting benefits (like productivity, quality, customer satisfaction) as the technology becomes better understood. Often cost of errors are underestimated. If you have an ambitious RPA program, then short term & fully measurable ROI is unlikely.

Often organizations underestimate the skills required for RPA implementation considering it can be done by anybody in their organization. This leads to multiple complications, and they wouldn’t be able to scale beyond simple automations. If you are a large organization with an org-wide automation initiative, you may look to establish an ‘ RPA Centre of Excellence’. Your COE would need more focused RPA roles. Like RPA Developers, Testers, Business Analysts, Bot Admins, Solution Architects to name just a few. Need for experienced & diverse skill sets as well as large in numbers.

There’s a lot of debate that happens on the delivery methodology that is involved in any RPA Implementation. According to me, it is a mix of Agile and Waterfall that delivers the project. You may need to be aware of the pros and cons and make appropriate call. Some important points would include, ensure rapid application development and rollout, prevent excessive documentation, choose stable and reliable processes, define / scope your automation boundaries appropriately.

Do not aim to automate 100% of the process. Often, it would end up too costly and diminishes the ROI. Anywhere around 80% level of automation is often optimal. You should clearly understand where to limit and draw the boundary lines appropriately.

Selection of right processes to automate is of vital importance. Make sure to select & prioritize processes according to automation potential, complexity, ROI etc. Do not allow people to politically influence or give preferential benefits for certain groups within the organization.

IT plays a crucial role in the success of an RPA project. You will need close interaction with IT and involve them in an early phase. They would own the infrastructure, manage and provide access to various applications, manage licenses, handle patches / updates and upgrades, handle application-level issues and more.

However, do not approach RPA as merely an IT topic. It is more about business process understanding rather than IT Ops.

RPA as a trigger for next productivity jump key to an organization’s digital journey. As the company matures with its automation implementation, it paves way for more complex end-to-end process automation with the use of more advanced, complementing technologies. So be open to kick start the journey when the opportunity kicks in.

Unfortunately, some RPA projects don’t deliver the results that businesses were hoping for. If that’s the case, don’t give up at early stages. Analyze your results and assess why the expected benefits weren’t achieved. RPA processes are often surrounded by huge business case expectations, that sometimes prove unrealistic. Its important to manage and overcome such expectations.

Thanks for Reading. Stay tuned!

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- Murukesh Jayaraj

#rpa #automation #implementation #challenges #intelligentautomation

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Murukesh Jayaraj

I am a techno-functional personality with well-honed skills in Business Analysis, Architecture, RPA, Team Leadership, Design Thinking & Application Development.