Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is making headlines as the leading contender in the pursuit to expedite business processes, reduce errors and cut operational costs. With all the buzz and excitement, you’ve probably heard a lot of opinions surrounding its implications and rising star status. So how do you know what’s true and what’s a myth?
We’ve collected 6 of the most common myths about RPA. Here’s the reality:
Myth #1: RPA will replace humans
The fear that software robots will replace humans needs to be tempered with the reality that the business landscape is changing. The unprecedented explosion of data we use to run our modern-day corporations has laid a larger burden on companies to leverage technology to improve the business. The jobs in question are high volume, highly repetitive and mundane tasks that are better suited for robots that can work tirelessly and continuously without making errors. This enables human workers to take on more creative, collaborative and interactive work.
Myth #2: RPA will automate 100% of your processes
There is a misleading interpretation that RPA will automate 100% of business processes. Typically, 70 to 80 percent of rules-based processes should be automated as some human resources will always be necessary to resolve issues, develop and maintain the technology. This follows suit to the misconception that you should immediately automate a large chunk of your processes. As a rule of thumb, large percentages should only happen over time. Implementing RPA raises questions about what drives exceptions and unpredictability in the systems – questions that most companies don’t have a good sense of beforehand. The best RPA deployments will occur in smaller increments – allowing for the process of discovering and working out any issues and using the technology to the best of its capabilities.
Myth #3: All RPA solutions are created equal
Automation tools that have been around for some time such as scripting, macro generation, and desktop automation tools have rebranded themselves as robotic process automation which has made it difficult for outsourcers and customers to understand what RPA really is. True RPA solutions deliver a virtual workforce that can fully automate business processes end-to-end and gives the business community and operational team the power of complete process ownership. When evaluating RPA vendors, the important factors to consider are: cost of ownership, ease and time to deployment, scalability, flexibility and rate of ROI.
Myth #4: RPA is only about cost reduction
While cost reduction is clearly one of the major reasons for RPA, it is not the lone benefit. A recent HfS study polled 716 enterprise buyers, consultants, and service providers on what they believed to be the most important components of the value proposition for RPA (choosing their top 3):
- Driving more predictability and higher quality in the processes – 65 percent
- Speeding up the time to complete the processes – 50 percent
- Freeing up staff to move to different projects – 38 percent
Meanwhile, reducing costs came in at fourth place with 35 percent, showing that RPA offers the solution to many of the different challenges that organizations are currently facing. (Source: “Ideals of As-a-Services” Study, HfS Research 2015)
Myth #5: RPA is applicable only for IT services
Traditionally, automation has been used more in back office processes such as IT services, Procurement, and Finance & Accounting and initial RPA followed in this mindset. However as RPA gains more maturity, enterprises are able to take a closer view as to where RPA can be applied. According to an HfS study, in the next 2 years we can expect to see a push to look at RPA not only in transactional or back office environments, but also in middle and front office settings – anywhere there is a large amount of data sets and inefficient processes. (Source: “Ideals of As-a-Services” Study, HfS Research 2015) In fact, it is within these categories that the full power of RPA is unleashed – Robots working WITH people to achieve amazing results!
Myth #6: RPA is here today…and gone tomorrow
Hot technologies come and go – what makes RPA any different? As anyone who’s worked in a large organization can attest, the number of inefficient processes is astonishingly large. These inefficiencies are often the result of ‘broken,’ outdated or outgrown systems – none of which individually justify added investment in upgrades, replacement or system integration projects. RPA is big news because it can link these existing systems and improve end-to-end processing without requiring direct integration, taking only hours or days as opposed to the weeks and months of most full system integrations. The capability to lend itself to any rules-based processes, regardless of size or scope, presents unlimited opportunities for RPA. It’s clear that RPA’s contribution is a very big deal – and that it’s here to stay.
RPA certainly represents an unprecedented level of transformation and disruption to ‘business as usual’ – one that requires careful preparation and planning. Although caution is prudent when dealing with any overwhelming change, in the case of RPA, many of the myths and concerns are largely misplaced.