Robotic process automation (RPA) is a cutting-edge technology that uses automated software “robots” to perform repetitive manual tasks, liberating your employees for higher-level activities.
The effects of RPA can be tremendous for an organization. According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, RPA can have a return on investment of 30 to 200 percent in just the first year alone.
Yet just rolling out an RPA implementation is no guarantee that it will actually be meaningful or useful. Another McKinsey study finds that many executives have seen only limited success from RPA thus far.
What are the reasons that RPA has been underwhelming in many cases? This article will go over 5 of the biggest RPA mistakes that too many businesses make, so that you can avoid them in your own organization.
Mistake #1: Being too ambitious
RPA, like other digital transformation initiatives, has the power to radically change your business for the better. Yet all good things take time. Going too fast with your RPA deployment and picking a target that’s too big is a recipe for disaster.
If you bite off more than you can chew right away, then the project will quickly spiral out of control. Partnering with an RPA expert is invaluable so that you can set realistic, achievable goals and milestones.
Mistake #2: Expecting too much
While RPA is potentially transformative for your business, it’s not a panacea either. For example, you won’t be able to create your own automated robot workforce devoid of any humanity.
Even with a full RPA deployment, there will still be many business activities that require human input, like creativity and problem-solving. In addition, the RPA installation itself will require some human oversight and assistance at certain steps of the process.
Mistake #3: Choosing the wrong activities
Artificial intelligence still hasn’t reached the point where RPA robots can automate anything under the sun. McKinsey estimates that in its current form, RPA could replace up to 45 percent of the tasks performed by human employees.
These activities tend to have a certain form: rules-based and highly predictable, without the need for much thinking or decision-making. Automating high-volume, repetitive tasks like data entry is likely to be much more successful than trying to build a robot replacement for your CEO.
Mistake #4: Having poorly designed processes
The name RPA implies that it’s only a means of automating your processes—not necessarily of improving them. If your business processes are already slow and inefficient, then RPA can only do so much to speed them up.
RPA is a valuable technique that’s part of the field of business process management (BPM), but it’s not a complete solution. Removing waste and bottlenecks from your processes should be done before or during your RPA deployment in order to get the most out of it.
Mistake #5: Not securing enough buy-in
For maximum effectiveness, RPA must be a project where everyone in the organization is committed to its success. The IT department may be responsible for deploying RPA, but you also need to secure buy-in from managers, executives, and other key stakeholders who have the final say.
Of course, your employees are the ones who are most responsible for RPA success on a day-to-day basis. Frequent communication with them about what RPA will entail, as well as solid training and education programs, will be essential.