Mark (CEO of an Insurance co.) — “What is the status of the data automation project Henry? Isn’t it Nine months since we implemented the pilot?”
Henry (CFO of the Insurance co.) — “Yes Mark! But our IT team still needs more time to work on deployments and see that the bots are actually able to mimic the human actions and stand up to our expectations of virtual replacement of the human resource.”
The above conversation between the CEO and CFO of a mid-size insurance company reveals the challenges encountered by the organization that is on it’s ninth month of running software bots to automate data processing. So far they haven’t met with success. But one thing is clear. It is happening under the watchful guidance of the C-suite which is one of the biggest positive factor.
Am sure you don’t want to be in the same troubled waters should you chose to deploy Robotic Process Automation or RPA solutions for processes that consumes substantial time, money and human resource.
A 2018 Deloitte survey that was responded by 400 individuals from different industries with a combined value of more than £1500 billion, revealed that 53% have already embarked on their RPA adoption which was expected to rise up-to 72% by 2020. At this level, a near universal adoption is not far in the next five years.
By automating 20% of its addressable activity, A midsize Fortune 1000 organization with $20 billion in revenue and 50,000 employees is looking at an excess of $30 million of bottom-line impact each year.
The survey also revealed that at least 3% of industry leaders have more than 50 bots at service. Now, this is a surprising fact for a process automation solution with such a low cost of implementation and with relatively higher benefits accruing for selective high-value activities.
This begs the question, why organizations have shown a rather sluggish approach in what should have been otherwise an aggressive one!
Ever wondered why? Tomorrow it could be you who might feel the urge to automate certain rules based repetitive task that involves a substantial human resource that could have been utilized for other creative engagements.
Let us try and understand certain basic challenges faced by companies intending to adopt process automation.
Let us enumerate some of the challenges faced by organizations in RPA implementation and ways to resolution:
Employee resistance and its management:
A technological revolution of this magnitude does not go uncontested. This is a universal principle and the case with implementation of RPA is not an exception. The robots will steal our jobs, goes the common narrative. In this regard the management’s understanding of the organization’s culture is put to test.
With Robotic Process Automation, we are talking about a digital workforce that can perform all the functions of a human resource specifically those which are rules based and repetitive. For this the management must take the existing manpower into confidence because embracing new technology is easier said than done.
How to resolve:
The CIOs would do a great favour to the workforce by not being in a denial mode and should actually come forward and explain that yes, the implementation of RPA is likely to bring about a significant change in the landscape.
What remains is to supervise the fast and flawless bots to perform those tasks and divert the human resources to more creative activities such as customer service, strategize sales, marketing, etc.
Deployment of RPA solutions eventually is a part of the overall IT infrastructure of your organization, as a result it gives significant opportunities for shadow IT activities.
RPA is largely sold as a SaaS-based solution to every other department in an organization such as sales, finance, accounting etc. This means no more APIs needed to connect with legacy systems which costs precious time and money.
How to resolve:
Russ Felker CTO of GlobalTranz, opines, “like any other Technology without monitoring and logging around the bots RPA is likely to cause more headache than doing the task manually.”
”Business users should work simultaneously with IT to determine whether a particular task needs to be assigned a bot.”
The Security risks
Implementing RPA solutions means granting access to all your legacy systems like CRM, ERP, accounting software, etc. This means that a large chunk of data will be handled by the bot for the execution of any rules-based task. In a scenario like this, there are high chances of data misuse either in the form of employee mistakes or cyber-attacks by hackers.
How to resolve:
- A sub team within the RPA team can be employed to monitor and report any kind of bot miss behaviour.
- Active directory integration and encryption are other complementary measures that can be taken to prevent any kind of security breach.
Tackling the total cost of ownership
According to a survey out of 500 respondents employing a wide range of RPA solutions across various Industries globally 41% of the respondents said that it is difficult to maintain.
As more companies embrace digital transformation by employing RPA, one of the biggest challenges is the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Why? Because software and hardware costs are important components of TCO. The software caused mainly include the costs of operating system, bot licenses, Virtual machines etc. Whereas hardware costs include machines, server, database and alike.
How to resolve:
- Multithreading for data processing is one option that can be applied by organizations that are highly data intensive which are stored at several places. Bi multithreading the RPA tool can reduce the turnaround time by up to 1000 times faster.
- Running multiple RPA bots (6-8) on a single virtual machine also reduces the overall costs on operating system and hardware licenses.
Choice of correct processes for automation
To get started with RPA, “you have to pick the right process. It has to be stable, mature, optimized, rules-based, repetitive, and usually high-volume.
”said Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work, and globalization at the London School of Economics in a discussion with McKinsey.
The bots are ready, are you? – Goes the saying across industry when the question of adopting RPA arises. Irrespective of the size of your organization the decision to adopt and deploy RPA is one major challenge.
How to resolve:
- It is easier to automate template-driven processes where decision-making is based on standardized and predictive rules.
- The process that needs automation must be a consumer of time and cost otherwise.
- RPA can be deployed for those processes that have readable input such as text-based data, user interface (UI) activities like keyboard strokes, mouse clicks etc, optical character recognition and green screen.
Challenges of scaling up
Though the early adoption rate for RPA may seem encouraging with European organizations accounting for more than 90%, a 2019 Deloitte survey reveals that only 3% of the organizations in Europe and 8% worldwide have been able to scale the automation projects with a little over 50 digital workers.
This gap is substantial for a solution that boasts of saving time and costs.
Finding the resolve: In the given scenario, developers across have proposed models such as robot-as-a-service or RaaS. This will allow new customers embarking on pilot projects on digital transformation to scale up quickly by obtaining licenses, implementing platforms, and thereafter placing the RPA application on the platform.
Preparing the C-Suite
Implementing enterprise-wide digital workforce Requires the support and sponsorship of the C-suite. Because the c-suite is driven by the cost benefit analysis.
The C-suite will not approve of any automation initiatives unless sustained and tangible benefits are visible to them accruing in the foreseeable future.
Finding the resolve: On-boarding the C-suite and functional leadership with a plan of action backed by cost-benefit analysis in the near to medium term should be an ideal approach to implement RPA.
There are many challenges to any transformation project and RPA implementations are really no different. The two key things you need, have nothing to do with technology: leadership and communication are the issues you need to take care of.
Without leadership, (ideally with C-suite sponsorship), the adoption rate of RPA and AI will be too slow to be of any real benefit to the company. And without communication, the benefits that accrue from RPA will not be heard or seen by all those who can benefit.
Hence, in order to tap the capabilities of RPA and accelerate your digital transformation journey with our automation engineers from AutomationwhiZ. Get in touch with our experts now, at firstname.lastname@example.org.