The robotic process automation (RPA) industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years. As part of ClaySys's own RPA service offering, we’ve helped many organizations, especially in the finance industry, save thousands by automating repetitive tasks that would otherwise be performed by human resources.
However, companies that have the scope for automation are often afraid to move to RPA. Many don’t understand the positive impact an RPA bot can have on their processes or the cost savings they can achieve. More still struggle with choosing an RPA vendor with the right experience.
We’ll go over some common misconceptions about RPA as well as 6 tips for how to effectively implement it in your organization.
6 Tips for Fail-Proof Implementation of Robotic Process Automation
- Identify potential changes in management
- Plan and design your workflow
- Make sure the process is automatable
- Ensure the tasks are repetitive
- Predict as many interruptions as possible
- Develop a solid maintenance strategy
Before we jump into our guide, let’s take a moment to explore what exactly RPA is and why you shouldn’t be afraid to bring it into your organization.
Why Do Organizations Fear RPA?
Often, companies are concerned about the investment RPA requires and are unsure whether they’d see returns by venturing outside their comfort zone. There’s also the fear that, by automating manual tasks that are usually performed by employees, those employees may be at risk of losing their jobs.
In truth, RPA isn’t about replacing human jobs — instead, it’s about making workflows more productive and allowing employees to redirect their time to more important duties.
When employees perform a trained repetitive task, the company has to invest in training. When those employees leave, the organization has to further invest in bringing in new resources and retraining them.
RPA Types, Tools, and Implementation Basics
There are two types of RPA: unassisted and assisted automation. Before implementing RPA in your company, it’s important to know the difference so you know which approach is right for you.
Assisted automation requires a human working along with the bot in order to perform the tasks. It’s also known as attended bots, and it’s a process best used for tasks that can’t be completely automated, like data entry operations. The bots can copy and paste data, but a human employee should always do a final verification to ensure accuracy at the end of a process.
Unassisted or unattended automation is a standalone process, where bots perform independently without human intervention.
Once you’ve decided between assisted and unassisted automation, you can choose from a variety of available tools. Some of the most popular include:
- Automation Anywhere
However, selecting the right tools and process for your RPA job doesn’t guarantee success. A study by Ernst and Young shows that between 30%–50% of RPA implementation projects fail.
We’ve identified 2 major reasons for these failures: a failure to plan and a lack of maintenance. Let’s go over our 6 fail-proof steps so you can be confident your RPA implementation will be successful.
1. Identify Potential Changes in Management
In an RPA project, most of the automation must be backed up by internal resources within the company. If there’s a change in structure or a lack of coordination, your RPA implementation could fail.
To avoid this situation, identify as many possible scenarios as possible that could affect the implementation. These include resignations, transfers, and other organizational shifts. Then, predefine your RPA behavior in accordance with those scenarios so nothing catches you by surprise.
2. Plan and Design Your Workflow
While designing your RPA workflow, make sure to clearly differentiate between the workflows that require automation and those that need human hand-holding.
The whole process can then be divided into several sections. You should clearly define the logic, purpose, and outcome of each layer. This process may seem futile and time-consuming initially, but it will help you avoid failures down the line.
3. Make Sure the Process is Automatable
Successful RPA implementations happen when the right process is selected for automation, so make sure you think critically about the one you’re looking to automate. If you try to implement RPA for a process that has a lot of human involvement, chances of error are high.
Instead, be sure to choose a process that’s predictable and has a predefined template or structure.
4. Ensure the Tasks Are Repetitive
One way to be sure your process is automatable is by identifying whether the tasks involved are repetitive. This is because machines follow instructions extraordinarily well — but if those instructions aren’t clear, they’ll make errors.
RPA designers and developers need to make sure that there is a logical flow to their tasks bots can easily carry out.
5. Predict as Many Interruptions as Possible
Once an RPA program is implemented, it will work as long as the initial environment is intact. Consider the case of a bot trained to login by entering the user name and password into the text fields and using the mouse to click on the login button.
However, if there are even minor changes to the environment where automation is performed, such as a position change of that button, it could result in a break in the process. The bot can’t identify the change on its own, and will click on the old login position, which can result in an unexpected outcome.
Infinite scenarios similar to this one can come up. Predicting as many of them as possible can considerably reduce the chances of failure given a change or interruption to the original environment.
6. Develop a Solid Maintenance Strategy
Once implemented, the RPA bot should run continuously, though it should be watched closely to analyze its performance. RPA maintenance teams can be developed inhouse, or it can be outsourced to a vendor based on the company requirements.
Most modern RPA tools have a built-in control center, which manages RPA processes once configured with key information such as analytics, errors, and resource needs.
UIPath Orchestrator, one of the major RPA tools, provides a dashboard that clearly displays this data.
The dashboard can be customized as per the organization’s needs and objectives.
For instance, finding errors is one of the most important aspects of the control center. A good system will alert managers about errors, but the best-maintained system will also keep a log of errors that help avoid similar ones in the future.
Monitoring and keeping track of tasks on a daily basis ensures high performing RPA with increased efficiency over time. The absence of a proper maintenance plan or team to manage it will result in failure.
RPA Can Help Your Business — If Implemented Properly
RPA can be a phenomenal tool for organizations as it boosts productivity and efficiency. However, the process demands heavy investment in planning and maintenance to be successful.
Follow this guide before introducing bots in your own processes, and you can be sure to see the benefits of a successful RPA implementation