Going into a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) project, most people will think about the technology, the possible ROI and a multitude of other things. But there are some things that are often overlooked. To help you out, here are some common pitfalls to avoid:
1) Choosing the wrong process
Perhaps the most common mistake is going for the wrong process. Wrong doesn't have to mean that the process is completely unsuited for automation, but it might be the wrong process to start with.
Start with a simple process, not a complex one, ideally one that has a high volume and impacts many employees - it helps with point 5 (communicating with employees) when you start with a process where many can experience first-hand the benefits of automation: ridding them of tedious, time-consuming and repetitive work.
You can get to the complex processes later, when you have a better grasp of automation, RPA is established in your company and you have more process building blocks to work with to form the complex process.
Also, think about how you might optimize a process before automating it. If you automate a flawed process, you will get a flawed automated process.
Download a checklist to help you find the right process here.
2) Not enough internal resources
There should be a dedicated automation team in the company, bundled for example in a Center of Excellence. The benefits are manifold: a team helps to keep focus on your automation strategy, sets priorities and is a place information is concentrated. It also helps to implement automation across business units.
If, however, instead of a centralized project team you have many small groups, chances are that you will not profit from the full automation benefits. Potential automation processes might be misjudged or ignored. Communication may be a problem as well: Teams will encounter similar problems, yet instead of using previously gained knowledge, each team will solve similar problems separately again and again.
3) No long-term automation strategy
Not having a long-term automation strategy might not impact the project immediately, but as you continue on your automation journey, you will regret not having one.
In our experience, once automation has shown what it can do, people realize how many process could be automated. With a proper strategy in place, your team can weigh which processes to prioritize and how to avoide double work or automation chaos.
An automation team with a proper strategy will ease governance significantly.
4) Not involving IT
One of the advantages of RPA is that it can be triggered by the business unit, thereby unburden IT and speed up processes. Instead of going to the back of the long IT queue, business units can implement automation by themselves.
However, while RPA can be (and usually is) business owned, IT should nonetheless be involved. And it should be involved early in the process. Again, this is a governance issue. If you do not involve IT, you will encounter problems sooner or later. There's the architecture and application release changes to consider and security issues to be taken into account to name just a few IT-related tasks.
5) Underestimating communication with employees
There is a prevailing image in the media of robots taking jobs. When people first hear about Robotic Process Automation, many of them will therefore respond negatively. For them, robots and automation are a threat.
Therefore, it is important to communicate clearly, focussing on the benefits for each individual (less tedious work). It also helps to start with the right process, a lighthouse process that impacts many people positively.
It's also important to have a strategy on how to retrain or refocus individuals if that should become necessary.
Another thing we noticed when looking at how our customers communicate RPA internally is that many do not call them robots, instead choosing a less charged word, like assistant or giving them names, thereby avoiding the negative connotations.
6) Not selecting the right partner
There are many companies that offer RPA and many that claim to offer RPA yet in reality provide something else. Therefore, it is important to look critically at the technology. But it needs more than technology to make a project successful.
The right automation partner should be a fit for your company. If you want to build internal resources, they should be able to provide training, if you want them to automate your processes, they should have the necessary experience. Look for someone who provides the services you need, with a proven track record both in the technology as well as project experience.
Do you want to implement RPA in your business and are looking the perfect partner? Contact our RPA specialists!