RPA Barriers and How to Overcome Them

A recent Forrester report indicated that automation has become a boardroom priority with CEOs being forced to reassess business continuity and risk, finding ways to mitigate against future crises that affect the productivity of human workers. (Forrester, May 2020)

Automation has been a major driver in reshaping work for some time, but it has now become more urgent in the context of business risk and resiliency. While organisations are keen to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA), there are some significant barriers to entry that need to be overcome.

Cost

The first barrier is cost and relates to both the initial purchase of the development environment and licenses, and the implementation project. The software is seen to be expensive and the costing models are sometimes complicated, making it difficult to understand the true cost of a potential project. In addition to the software cost, there is still the implementation, training of staff, and the change management which is so critical to the success of these projects.

Skills

The current skills shortage of RPA developers means that the people with experience can command high salaries and are costly to employ. Typically, RPA developers are in short supply, particularly in South Africa. With the focus on local employment while the economy recovers, the cost of training up to “build your bot developer” is not a quick fix solution. For an organisation not requiring full time developers, employing one makes no sense, and contractors come at premium rates.

While the investment in RPA technology and skills can be a great expense, it delivers benefits quickly and ROI of between 300 and 800 percent are common place. But how does one get off the ground?

Torch Solutioneers™ hosted RPA solutions means that your organisation does not need to invest in technology or people until you are at a scale that warrants it. The “pay as you go” approach is cost-efficient for organisations who are dipping their toe in the automation waters. By enabling organisations to pay for what they need, customers are able to start with small projects, realising the benefit before moving on to scale up to larger implementations. The Solutioneers™ commercial offerings mean that you can pay off the development of your Bot over 12 months, or once off if you have the cash and prefer a month to month contract.

Identifying the correct candidate process.

It is important to find the right process for RPA; one that is highly repetitive and structures, and can be well defined in order to be automated. Very few processes are simple and impact only one team or department, and this must be assessed when selecting the ideal process for automation. Another key success factor is that the process is fixed as the Bot will not be able to change without additional development.

Example: an invoice is submitted by a supplier; the Bot needs to identify the purchase order number on the invoice and match it to the purchase order in the ERP system, and submit it for authorisation and payment. As part of the preparation, the organisation identifies the constraint that it has no control over where the vendor places the purchase number on their invoice and thus the need for flexibility is required. A good automation team will identify this constraint and train the Bot therefore to identify the purchase order number on a vendor invoice so that the whole automation does not grind to a halt if a supplier changes the format of their invoices.

Change Management & Adoption

RPA fundamentally changes what people do while working – this change has to be well thought out and planned to align motivations and skills.  Removing repetitive, boring work is inherently appealing on the surface, but to bring about sustainable, enthusiastic change, employees need to understand, commit, and be engaged with the new tasks that will fill their time. Opportunities to learn new skills and to take on more meaningful work with more purpose drives home the personal benefit of RPA.

The solution to the barriers above is to work with an experienced partner who can support you through this journey. Torch Solutioneers’ experienced team of RPA Business Analysts and Developers have the expertise to work with you in identifying the correct process to automate. A small proof of concept can confirm you are on the right track. Once the project is live and running well, a workshop can be held to look at how to scale the RPA implementation through more impactful automations a clearly defined RPA strategy roadmap.

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