Robotic Process Automation (RPA) like all technology and innovation initiatives come with disruption and risks associated. In this blog, we will be diving into 8 risk categories that Dr. Mary L. Lacity and Dr. Leslie P. Willcocks described in their book “Robotic Process Automation and Risk Mitigation: The definitive guide”.
RPA is a powerful technology that drives innovation, improves customer service, and maximizes competitiveness for its organizational adopters.
However, businesses often fail to deliver its full value by setting up the wrong goals and expectations, or misusing it for one-off, isolated areas. These can lead to under-resourcing the RPA initiative, inhibiting it from reaching its full potential.
Examples of some of the worst strategies are when RPA is seen as a way to reduce costs by reducing FTEs instead of using it to innovate and improve how work is done. This ultimately leads to an unhappy workforce and a bad external reputation for the organization.
Using the wrong sourcing model can lead to excessive costs.
This can happen if organizations decide to do everything internally but lack the required skills to govern, develop and execute.
Just like cloud-washing, RPA-washing can be a real risk due to market hype.
Many tool vendors claim automation capabilities that lack basis. For example, some vendors just offer screen-scraping which can lead to high maintenance for error correction or changes if it lacks full screen automation features. Due to its nuance, companies can end up often choosing the wrong tool/s for their needs.
Implementing an RPA initiative requires stakeholder buy-in at different levels across the enterprise.
Typically buy-in from the executive suite, IT (Information Technology) department, business unit employees, and external stakeholders such as customers and service partners. It is common for IT departments to write off RPA as a hyped-up technology with low value and potential to threaten stability and security. There would also be risks of the organization’s grassroots to view RPA as a threat to their jobs, hence actively stalling or derailing its implementation.
The key is to understand that ALL stakeholder’s active engagement is integral to a successful RPA delivery.
To mitigate risks of a project launch failure, organizations need to prevent technical, financial, and political failures.
For example, companies that choose to adopt RPA in departments with the most headcount to generate more savings often fail due to a large load of changing processes and exception handling. Companies that aim to reduce headcount for immediate FTE savings fail because they did not have the resources required to build a robust RPA solution, bought the wrong tool, made wrong assumptions, took shortcuts, and jeopardized security and compliance.
Operational risks occur when robots get deployed into operations without a proper operating model.
If enterprises do not define roles, and rush into training, responsibilities can be blurred when bots go into production, humans can find themselves confused on their roles.
Change management strategy is key to the success of a disruptive implementation such as RPA.
A poor communication plan and lack of executive and grassroots buy-in, and lack of operational models. Underestimating and under-resourcing change management activities can jeopardize a proper alignment between the strategy, processes, technology, and people in the implementation lifecycle, leading to HR (Human Resources) issues, delays and missed opportunities.
When companies reach maturity with their initial deployment and begin expanding RPA across different business units and geographies.
Sustainability risks, such as rapid proliferation of automation requests, duplicated efforts across divisions, and under-utilization of bots. Other risks can include unchanged labor and process silos, lack of preparation for automation progress into cognitive technologies, shortage, or shortage of RPA talent, etc.
In conclusion, innovative solutions are meant to be disruptive and along with their benefits come risks. Having a realistic view of RPA and preparing for such risks mitigation can make a big difference in reaching its maximum potential.
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