To put it in simple words, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the process of using robots to perform repetitive or rule-based tasks. To say that RPA has changed the business world would be an understatement. According to Forrester Research, the RPA software market is expected to reach $6.5 billion by 2025. The RPA-related services market could reach $16 billion by 2025. The last stat is a telling statement of businesses embracing RPA.
Organizations that adopt RPA into their system can change the face of their business by becoming faster and smarter. It improves efficiency, increases business data security, provides data for analytics, helps meet your accuracy goals with consistency, and creates a better customer experience. As we will keep reiterating in this article, the benefits of implementing RPA are endless. Like every activity worth pursuing, you will face challenges while implementing RPA too, but it is well worth the effort.
Over 70-80% of rule-based processes can be automated. Thankfully, many business activities are based on rules and logic. This is where RPA makes all the difference.
In this article, we look at the benefits of RPA in several sectors, common challenges you face during implementation, and ways to overcome them.
RPA use cases:
A survey conducted by UiPath in 2020 found that the most common use cases for RPA are finance and accounting (47%), customer service (31%), and human resources (23%).
RPA systems can work across different platforms, applications, and departments. It can easily integrate with your existing IT infrastructure. Let’s look at RPA use cases for different sectors.
RPA bots can handle most banking activities such as record keeping, reporting, payroll, accounts payable, and receivable. Reducing operational costs and increasing compliance by reducing the human error rate, RPA bots help finance teams focus on strategic tasks and grow rapidly at scale.
Loan processing and validation, card management, account closure, same-day fund closure, Know Your Customer (KYC), customer ID verification, responding to customer requests, financial reconciliation, audits, quality assurance planning, and regulatory monitoring are few of the specific tasks that RPA bots can successfully do in the banking sector.
Check out: How Zuci helped Las Vegas Credit Union Reclaim 80% of Employee Time and Effort With Digital Workforce
RPA boosts employee productivity with effective performance management, improves the brand image, takes data-driven actions, and so on. It allows HRs to focus on value-added tasks. Onboarding automation, candidate sourcing, employee history verification, attendance management, payroll management, employee exit management, arranging interviews, etc., are a few of the tasks that RPA bots can do.
Check out: World’s Largest F500 Company Magnifies Speed and Quality of Its HR Functions Using Zuci’s RPA expertise
The retail industry is highly benefited from RPA as it offers numerous benefits, ranging from reducing costs to improving customer service. Invoice automation, return processing, register reporting, CRM automation, inventory management, customized marketing, and ERP automation are a few among the many use cases in the retail industry.
Thanks to its rule-based programming, RPA bots are of immense help in customer service. RPA automates data exchange to serve customers better. It reduces operating costs by a huge margin since it reduces the need for employing people in several customer support areas.
RPA bots are great at processing claims, speeding up the form registration process, and helping them stick to compliance standards by using automated notifications and updates.
In the manufacturing industry, RPA bots can decrease the time taken on routine tasks, decrease time-to-market, maintain an audit trail, minimize process errors, etc. Data collected by RPA bots can be leveraged by analytics tools and “digital twin” software to identify gaps and discover opportunities.
Common RPA implementation challenges
Let’s look at some of the common challenges faced by businesses when implementing RPA.
Lack of proper planning and strategy
Implementing RPA in an organization is a crucial task, and it needs the tacit approval of major stakeholders. It also requires proper planning to make the implementation successful. Having a proper strategy helps in creating a system that will help with RPA implementation. Lack of clarity will be the biggest impediment to successfully running RPA bots.
Before undertaking an RPA implementation exercise, ask the following questions:
- What are the objectives for implementing RPA?
- How do we measure the impact after implementing RPA?
- Is RPA a viable solution? Should other technologies be considered?
- Does RPA offer a permanent or a temporary solution?
- How do we scale RPA implementation to other areas of the business?
- How do we educate employees about the impact of RPA?
- Proper planning ensures that RPA implementation goes smoothly.
- Identify processes that are ideal for automation.
- Clearly define your goals and the outcomes that you expect.
- Evaluate RPA tools and vendors that best fit your requirements and budget.
- Develop a roadmap on how you want the entire project to pan out.
Doing all of the above pointers will increase the chances of your RPA project becoming successful.
Resistance to change from employees
There is a lot of resistance from employees because they feel left out of the decision-making process. They are not adequately informed about the reasons for implementing RPA. No wonder there is resistance from employees to embracing RPA.
People are resistant to using RPA technology because of a few more reasons, like the ones below:
- They are worried that their jobs will become obsolete.
- They are comfortable in their way of working and will not want to unlearn and start anew. The prospect of having to learn new tasks can also feel overwhelming for them.
- A lack of understanding of RPA, how it works, and how it can benefit the organization can result in them being resistant.
- The organization’s culture can impact how new technologies are accepted. If the culture is resistant to change of any kind, it will reflect when RPA is implemented as well.
Alleviating your employees’ worries about how you will be implementing RPA is going to be a major task, and this is what you must focus on. Prepare a career roadmap for them, including pointers on their new responsibilities. Give them complete details on every process that will be automated.
Let them know how it will impact their current responsibilities and the future plans that are in place for them. They need to understand that they will be tasked with high-value tasks instead of focusing on ones that are repetitive.
A technological addition of this scale is fraught with security challenges, isn’t it? Of course. Ensuring your RPA solution is secure is pivotal, especially if it can access sensitive data. Data encryption is one way to maintain security.
Let’s look at some of the security risks associated with implementing RPA:
- Unauthorized access: RPA bots can access sensitive data, and unauthorized data will lead to identity theft, data breaches, and other security incidents.
- Lack of monitoring: When regular monitoring and auditing of RPA systems isn’t done, it will become difficult to detect security incidents.
- Vulnerabilities: Like every software in the market, even RPA software might contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by highly-skilled attackers.
- Compromised credentials: RPA bots have access to login credentials to enter systems. If the credentials are compromised, unauthorized parties will access them.
Conduct a security assessment to identify the possibility of potential risks and assessments. Implement access control to prevent unauthorized access to your data. Don’t forget to encrypt sensitive data. Monitor and audit your systems regularly. Keep your RPA software updated with the latest security patches and updates. It will reduce the risk of security breaches.
Lack of proper infrastructure
In 2007, when the State Government of Queensland, Australia, set up a new payroll system for 80,000 of its healthcare employees, it didn’t pan out the way it was expected. The initial contract was for $6 million and was expected to go live in six months. But the project wasn’t completed until late 2010, and there was also an additional cost of nearly $25 million. There were major defects even after it was implemented. An additional 1,000 employees were hired to manually take care of the payroll, adding another $1.5 billion over a period of eight years. The project was a disaster on all fronts.
This was called “the worst failure in public administration in Australia’s history,” and rightly so.
When the report was completed, failure was found at every stage of the project, including the procurement process and how the vendor managed the project. Even though this was a case of a payroll implementation gone wrong, it wouldn’t be difficult to extrapolate the same kind of effect when RPA is implemented without the right infrastructure in place.
When proper infrastructure is unavailable, it will be impossible to set up RPA systems successfully. You will end up in unfavorable situations similar to the one that the Queensland administration faced. It will create unnecessary complications and will not give you the result that you want. Proper infrastructure and a highly-skilled team are necessary to make it work.
Assess whether your IT infrastructure can handle the workload that comes with implementing RPA. Determine whether your data storage, processing, hardware, and software requirements can be met by your current infrastructure.
Make sure your infrastructure can be scaled up or down as required. Develop governance policies to make sure that implementation of RPA happens in a controlled and systematic manner.
Integration with existing systems
Your RPA solution has to integrate with a number of existing systems and applications. If you don’t have a dedicated team to do this, it can get quite tricky. Working with an RPA partner helps you complete the integration process with ease.
RPA integrates with existing systems based on the organization’s requirements, below are a few of them:
- APIs: Most applications provide Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow RPA bots to interact with them.
- Database access: They can access databases directly to update or retrieve information.
- Screen scraping: RPA bots interact with existing systems by mimicking how a human user would act.
- Custom Connector: They need to be developed for RPA bots to interact with specific systems. Even though they are complex and time-consuming, it allows for more customized integration.
- Middleware: There are integration platforms or middleware that connect different systems together.
Identify the applications and systems your RPA solution must integrate with. Determine the integration requirements that include data formats, protocols, and interfaces. Create a plan that includes timelines, milestones, and responsibilities. Assess the compatibility of your existing systems with the RPA solution and make modifications or upgrades if necessary. Test the flow of data and check if the systems are communicating with each other correctly.
Lack of proper resources and budget
Not accounting for the resources required and the budget will result in the project failing. You will not exceed the budget unless you have accounted for every minute expense in advance. For a project of this magnitude, foresight and planning are pivotal.
When tasked with convincing the CFO to implement RPA, you can use the following pointers:
- Identify the organization’s current processes which are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming, and error-prone. These are the processes that will benefit from automation.
- Estimate the time and cost savings that you can achieve by automating the above processes.
- Calculate the ROI if you implement RPA for these processes.
- Present your CFO with a business plan that highlights the benefits of implementing RPA. In the presentation, focus on the amount of cost savings and increase in efficiency and accuracy that can be achieved with its implementation.
- Address all the concerns that the CFO may have regarding it. Explain how it reduces costs in the long run and how it frees up employees to work on core tasks.
- Include case studies or examples of other organizations that achieved ROI with RPA implementation.
- Explain the kind of competitive advantage you can achieve by implementing RPA.
If you present the leadership team with a solid plan, convincing them to get the go-ahead on RPA implementation becomes easy.
Difficulty in finding the right RPA solution
Finding the right RPA solution is going to be as important as choosing the right process to automate. Make sure that the RPA vendor has ample experience in dealing with implementing RPA for businesses in your niche. The biggest mistake that businesses make is that they choose the solution based on cost.
Let’s look at the popular RPA tools and compare each other.
||Digital Workforce Platform
||Analytics & Reporting
The above table provides a high-level comparison of some of the major features of RPA. There are several factors that you need to thoroughly evaluate and assess your specific business requirements before signing on the dotted line.
Make sure that the tool you finalize is easy to use. A long learning curve will only delay the implementation of RPA. Check whether it integrates with your existing software and systems. Find out how scalable it is, based on your needs. Another aspect of the tool that you cannot ignore is the security features that it offers. Budget is a factor as well. Once you have checked all of this, request a demo of the RPA tool to see if it works the way promised.
Choosing the wrong process to automate
Picking the wrong process to automate will be a colossal waste of time and resources. Furthermore, trying to automate a complex process will most likely lead to inefficiency. If a bot takes a lot of time to complete the tasks or leads to inadvertent errors, it defeats the process of automation. Certain processes are best left untouched.
The “why” behind automation should be strong when deciding to automate a process. There should be a thorough analysis of each process before you go ahead with the decision. Take the process’s complexity, frequency of usage, challenges to automate, and potential benefits into account. Get the buy-in from key stakeholders and include your employees who will benefit from the automation of the respective processes, in the decision-making process.
Ways to overcome RPA implementation challenges
The benefits of implementing RPA in your organization are limitless. When you do so, you will be faced with challenges, and when you do, a simple read of the pointers below will help you overcome them.
Build a solid business case
For anyone who knows about RPA, the immense benefits that it brings to an organization are clear as a day. To properly conceptualize and educate stakeholders about its importance, you have to create a solid roadmap. For example, is RPA to eliminate mundane and repetitive data entry work or streamline your onboarding process? There are many more use cases. Choose the ones that are most relevant to your business needs.
Here’s how you build a solid RPA business case:
- Be clear on the specific challenges that you want RPA to address.
- Clearly establish roles and responsibilities for the stakeholders, along with an accountability framework.
- Establish the approval process for proposing and deploying RPA bots.
- Integration solutions and the challenges that will surface.
- Demonstrate the benefits of RPA to the stakeholders. It could be increased efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, cost savings, etc.
- Implement RPA in a single department to showcase its benefits. Think of it like a pilot.
Develop a detailed implementation plan
For a project like RPA that has implications across departments, following the best practices for implementing it is a no-brainer. Everything from managing and configuring software and hardware should follow the right process. Choosing the right RPA tools, supporting technologies, and the right vendor will go a long way in making the project a success.
The above picture gives you a clear idea of how to implement an RPA exercise. The activities and the resulting outcomes for each stage are shown here. Have a clear picture of the timeline involved, the resources that it will require, and the changes that you intend to see after each bot gets implemented.
A study by Deloitte in 2020 found that 73% of organizations that have implemented RPA have already seen a positive return on investment (ROI).
Engage with stakeholders
Change Management is an aspect of technological change that no business can afford to overlook. Without employee buy-in, your RPA implementation plan will fail. Open communication and transparency is the only way to gain the trust and approval of employees.
Here’s how to introduce RPA to employees:
- Without boring them with technical details, tell them how RPA bots will make their work easy.
- Bounce off ideas from them to get them involved.
- Let the employees know that even though some tasks will be made redundant, they will take up the responsibility of other higher-value tasks.
- Train your workers on their new tasks.
Address each and every concern they have regarding RPA implementation.
Train your employees
It is important that you engage your people when RPA is in place. The best strategy to get them excited about RPA is to identify a pain point that causes issues or can be made better and build a bot for it. Now, employees have proof of how transformative RPA is and how it makes their jobs easier.
|Processes to automate
||Impact on current responsibilities
||Benefits after RPA implementation
||RPA reduces the need for manual data entry
||Employees can focus on resolving issues and exception handling that will require human judgment
||Automating the task of financial reporting ensures that data is accurate, and up-to-date
||Rather than just gathering and validating data, employees can focus on data analysis and interpretation.
||Reduces the need for manual data entry and streamlines the process
||Instead of mundane tasks, HRs can focus on creating a positive environment during onboarding.
||It can significantly reduce response times and improve customer experience
||Employees can focus on providing personalized support and resolving issues that require human judgment.
|IT service management
||Automating IT service management reduces errors and improves response times
||Employees will be able to provide more personalized support.
Proper data management
Enterprises have an insane amount of data stored in various formats. For RPA applications to conduct process automation correctly, it is imperative that data is efficiently gathered, classified, and interpreted. Without proper data management to feed automation, the entire implementation will fall flat on the ground.
Continuously monitor and evaluate
Even a minor change in the process might result in the bot not working correctly. Keep reviewing the decisions made by the bot. Make rule and logic corrections wherever necessary. Evaluate the benefits that you are getting and if there are things that you are missing out on by not having RPA bots.
Check how the bots affect the performance of the applications in the system and on the employees. Ensure that you keep track of bots that have already been deployed. Monitor your KPIs and take immediate action if your goals are not met.
Partner with experienced RPA implementation partners
You want to work with RPA vendors who have successfully implemented several bots for a similar niche. They can help you navigate the challenges of implementation and provide expert guidance and support.
50% of RPA projects fail because of their complexity and the lack of expert help at their disposal. Don’t become a part of this statistic when you can easily avoid it by finding the right partner.
Below are the things you must consider:
- They should be able to tell you which processes in your company are suitable for automation.
- Make sure your budget matches their price.
- They should have an efficient maintenance program after the implementation.
- Check if both organizations have similar values. For an undertaking of this magnitude, values matter.
- Ask for customer references.
Businesses often take the right measures required before adopting RPA. But they completely overlook the pushbacks that arise after the automation bots are deployed into the systems. Maintenance of RPA is important and should be a part of your RPA implementation. You also need to remember that your requirements keep changing, and you need to scale up or down accordingly.
Cloud-based solutions like UiPath, Blue Prism cloud, and Automation Anywhere are relatively easy to use. These cloud-based solutions help simplify and streamline post-deployment maintenance. How? Since it can be accessed and monitored remotely, it results in efficient troubleshooting and maintenance. They also include automated updates and patches, which keep the system always up to date. It also offers centralized management and vendor management and is highly scalable.
RPA helps your employees by minimizing errors, automating repetitive tasks, ensuring compliance, and so on. With businesses across the globe understanding the impact of RPA, they need to adapt quickly to workforce transitions. Empower your employees with new skills and expose them to technologies that will serve them in their careers. People will not lose their jobs because of automation but because of the lack of enthusiasm to train and upskill the workforce
Zuci's RPA services include:RPA consulting
We understand how ready your organization is to take up automation, conduct workshops, and determine your requirements for a Center of Excellence (CoE),develop an
automation plan and the roadmap to make it possible.
Zuci's RPA services include:RPA Assessment
Certified RPA analysts will find out the scope of the business processes and
determine the impact they will have on the organization
Zuci's RPA services include:RPA Development and Deployment
RPA Development and Deployment
Zuci provides highly skilled professionals such as Solution Architects, Business Analysts,
RPA experts, and Program Managers for RPA development and deployment.
Zuci's RPA services include:RPA COE Management
RPA COE Management
An RPA Center of Excellence will be built and managed
according to your unique needs.
Zuci's RPA services include:RPA Managed Services
RPA Managed Services
We continuously monitor and optimize your RPA implementation
while augmenting RPA CoE by following the best practices for it.
Throughout the article, if you had noticed keenly, everywhere we outline the benefits of RPA, we end it with “etc.” or “and so on.” That’s because the practical applications of RPA bots in any given industry are limitless. Enterprises, no matter which industry they are in, would be extremely short-sighted not to leverage RPA bots. When programmed properly, it works accurately and without any interruption.
If you are looking to incorporate RPA into your workforce, you have landed in the right place. Zuci Systems will be delighted to be your hands-on RPA implementation partner. Let’s get your productivity engine chugging along rapidly!