Seasoned IT professionals know that RPA is not an “out of the box” solution despite its initial introduction into the marketplace. It requires significant IT resources devoted to its maintenance and management. That said, unforeseen repercussions from the technical debt that is assumed after RPA has been implemented often leaves teams unprepared, regardless of deliberate planning by digital transformation leads. Here’s a look at why.
Restoration urgency and the bigger business impact.
IT leads know that bots break. This isn’t news. However, in the excitement to improve and automate a business process that seems like a great fit for an RPA solution, what may be overlooked is the greater business impact when things fail. As an example, companies that use bots to automate the processing of customer purchase orders had better have plenty of resources in place to resolve interruptions ASAP or customer orders and cycle times can be quickly affected. Customer orders are essentially real-time company revenue. One outage could have enormous impacts on a company’s reputation for reliability and loyalty of their customers as it relates to order fulfillment and order cycle times.
Using RPA for a task that it wasn’t well suited for.
Sometimes companies are so focused on executing a company-wide digital transformation that they identify business processes that they believe to be “suitable” for RPA, but only after implementation, discover they are more complex. In reality, if there are more cognitive components required for the task’s automation, the bots can’t fully complete the work or can only complete a subset of the less complicated set of business processes. Processes that require more sophisticated cognitive processing are more suitable for solutions built with artificial intelligence that are designed to learn, respond, and self-correct. Ultimately, they improve and become more efficient in their future processing while completing the automation and learning more complex logic.
Automating something that another solution does better.
It’s like growing your own vegetables in your yard. After the effort to lay the beds, plant the seeds and do the regular watering and weeding, only to yield less than stellar plants–isn’t it easier to just go to your local grocer that has fresh, unbruised, perfect produce that has been grown by generations of expert farmers? Same goes for pursuing an RPA solution that needs to be implemented and continually maintained by IT resources who don’t have the rigor or experience with working with the technology. Some processes are simply better suited for custom solutions that are purpose-built for the business process they are intended to solve. They likely have experienced multiple enhancements and improvements, and in most cases have a level of organized service associated with the solution. Why do something yourself, when someone else can do it better?
The technical debt.
The abovementioned pitfalls can be the consequence of any RPA implementation, and either collectively or singularly result in technical debt. With technical debt, it’s essentially just producing a new problem from a solution that was meant to relieve an old problem. Offsetting the debt will be in picking the right processes that are truly suited for RPA, but additionally forecasting and staffing resources for its ongoing support. As in-house support for RPA initiatives is a basic requirement, it’s critical to do a true cost benefit analysis to determine whether the manual processes that are meant to be eliminated through RPA are actually accelerating productivity. Or, if in contrast, whether inefficiencies have simply been moved from one business process to another.
It’s essential that IT leads understand how an RPA solution is genuinely delivering on value and where it is just slowing your team down. Balancing efforts of its maintenance while increasing overall productivity from its implementation is the only way to obtain value from an RPA solution. Where there is a disparity, as there often is with higher value business processes, then the way to go is a sales order automation solution that has enhanced cognitive capabilities.