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Top RPA Blunders (And How to Avoid Them)

By Antony Edwards

Antony Edwards

Antony Edwards - 10 September 2019

A recent article by InformationWeek’s Jessica Davis proclaimed, “RPA is the fastest growing category of software today, driven by enterprise digital transformation efforts.” Davis went on to cite a Gartner report which found RPA has year-over-year growth of 63 percent, which it attributes to “an expensive patchwork quilt of applications and systems” that companies are struggling to manage.

We’ve written quite a bit on this blog about the benefits RPA brings to organizations as well as some common challenges companies face when evaluating opportunities for RPA. Key to avoiding these stumbling blocks is clearing up RPA misconceptions, a topic I recently discussed with the Enterprisers Project’s Kevin Casey. The resulting article examined key RPA fallacies, among them:

  • RPA improves business processes. RPA is all about automating processes. As Casey put it, “If those processes need to be improved, though, you have to do that work.” It’s a subtle distinction, because of course RPA can ultimately drive some process improvements if—and this is a critical if—it’s the right process for RPA to begin with. To get ahead of this issue, it’s important to ensure the processes you wish to automate are singular and clearly defined.
  • RPA notices aberrations. RPA is great for taking on highly rules-based and predictable processes, simultaneously freeing human workers to focus on more strategic tasks. If something about the process is unusual or suspicious, however, “RPA is typically not going to raise its eyebrows,” Casey writes. Anomaly detection can be modeled into RPA but it’s not a straightforward task. As such, companies must ensure any repeatable processes they plan to automate don’t typically result in a significant amount of questions or variation when undertaken by human workers.
  • RPA deals well with change. Generally speaking RPA must be re-tuned to handle change, which can be problematic in an organization with numerous dependent systems. Companies need to remember that RPA is not adaptive, otherwise, they will likely face headaches down the road.

The above points are not to suggest that RPA isn’t a valuable tool—it wouldn’t be the fastest growing software category tracked by Gartner if it didn’t deliver tangible results! But companies must be aware of what the technology can and cannot do and understand the importance of laying the right foundation for RPA from the outset.

As the Gartner report put it, “There are a great many opportunities for RPA tools to deliver significant value to enterprises struggling to leverage a patchwork quilt of existing systems.” In the future, as RPA is augmented with AI, machine learning, mobile and the cloud, expect to see even more opportunities for the technology to drive business value.

Learn more about how Eggplant is harnessing RPA to help our customers reduce errors and increase productivity.