Modern businesses endeavor to accelerate digital transformation and are increasingly adopting smart automation technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) to increase business performance, increase process efficiency, and reduce costs. Enterprises are turning to RPA to automate and optimize several business processes to save time, effort, and money while producing quick, accurate, and consistent results. According to Gartner, 85 percent of very large and large organizations will have deployed RPA in some form by the end of 2022. Robotic process automation software is an easily configurable and inexpensive way to automate monotonous and time-consuming tasks to enhance business process efficiency.
Companies across different sectors, including finance and accounting, insurance, human resources, customer support, and more are implementing software robots or bots to free up their human resources from repetitive tasks. Recent research from ISG Insights predicts that more than two-thirds of business leaders in an array of support functions such as Human Resources, Finance, and Contact Center plan to implement RPA by 2020. To ensure that RPA delivers value for the business, an organization must pay heed to careful implementation instead of just diving into it without a comprehensive plan. Enterprises must envision a bigger picture and look beyond short-term gains.
RPA implementation challenges and how to overcome them
Things are easier said than done. Implementing RPA also comes with its own set of challenges, and organizations must pre-plan to address these hurdles proactively to reap the perceived benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at some common RPA implementation challenges organizations encounter, and how to mitigate each challenge:
Implementing RPA calls for active change management to ensure a smooth transition. Lack of employee buy-in may further escalate workforce resistance to change and impede RPA deployment. Enterprises need to recognize the effects of RPA implementation on employees’ roles and responsibilities, work schedules, and skill requirements.
To ensure successful adoption and minimize friction, organizations need to establish transparent communication channels to frequently share necessary information with the employees. Clear communication across teams regarding the new changes that robotic process automation brings to the table helps employees understand the benefits and implications better. Continuous communication also encourages the workforce to share feedback and suggestions. Better informed employees are more open to drive quick adoption.
Unrealistic goals and expectations
No doubt implementing RPA brings quintessential benefits to business, but expecting a complete turnaround in one go would be unrealistic. Ambiguity around expected outcomes leads to chaos and confusion among employees and adversely impacts the overall implementation of RPA.
Business leaders must address such a challenge by considering the details of processes that will undergo changes with RPA implementation and evaluate probable outcomes and their impact on respective employees. Automating processes means employees are freed from monotonous tasks to focus on high-value activities, and therefore may require new skills. Enterprises must convey such expectations to the workers with clarity to ensure everyone is on the same page. Setting clear goals from the initial stages of RPA deployment helps in measuring results accurately to expedite RPA implementation.
RPA implementation requires seamless integration between interdependent automated activities to avoid discrepancies. Enterprises deploying RPA in silos struggle to cohesively operate processes without any hindrances or delays. Another aspect of siloed implementation is deploying RPA in a particular business process without bringing it to the cognizance of IT. Failing to involve IT during RPA implementation raises several concerns regarding data security and disaster recovery.
Deploying RPA should be an enterprise-level activity, and IT should be involved early in the process to avoid any implementation shortcomings. RPA design should be aligned with broader aspects such as IT infrastructure and security to ensure a smooth deployment and seamless integration of dependent processes.
Choosing the right processes to automate
While implementing RPA, identifying and selecting the right processes to be automated is one of the biggest challenges for the organizations. Robotic process automation works well for rule-based, high volume, repetitive tasks that are independent of any human intervention. It’s crucial for businesses to understand that RPA is not ideal for each and every process and erroneous process selection impacts the organization’s expected ROI from the investment in RPA technology.
To avoid such challenges during the implementation phase, business executives leading the process transformation must conduct a detailed analysis of business processes to check the right-fit. Usually, processes non-standardized processes that require pervasive human interactions are not suitable for implementing RPA and must be refrained from initial selection criteria.
Existing IT infrastructure constraints
Existing IT infrastructure issues may pose challenges to a smooth implementation of robotic process automation solutions. Enterprises may encounter several compatibility issues between the RPA systems and the organization's current infrastructure and architecture such as interconnected systems, synchronized on-premise and cloud infrastructures, and disaster recovery management.
Modern enterprises can mitigate IT infrastructure challenges by maintaining a centralized IT infrastructure team that is responsible for ensuring synergy between RPA implementation process requirements and the enterprise IT infrastructure.
IT security concerns
Managing security risks is the most critical challenge in today’s data-driven business environment. RPA implementation requires automating general business processes such as processing orders or payrolls among others and demands extending access of confidential customer or employee information to the RPA software. Here, the risk of data misuse by bots or those responsible for designing the RPA workflows increases manifolds. Another grave security risk is access security, wherein any unauthorized user gets access to the sensitive data resulting in hacking or hacking insider threats.
Enterprises need to be more diligent in tackling security concerns and must ensure that a proper security mechanism is in place. Taking proactive security measures such as privileged access management, data encryption, and firewalls are essential for safe RPA implementation.
Robotic process automation is essential for modern businesses to drive digital transformation. RPA helps enterprises increase process efficiency at minimum operational costs, but the key lies in successful implementation. To overcome implementation pitfalls, businesses are required to invest time in strategic planning to clearly understand the processes and the need to go ahead with automation. A few primary considerations include planning well in advance and seeking stakeholder buy-in to proceed with the plan, and involving IT early in the implementation process to avoid any real-time deployment glitches.
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