How To Overcome RPA Implementation Challenges

Written by Lucas de Boer | 4 min read
Published on: November 26th 2019 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020
rpa implementation challenges blog image - robot ticking boxes

Many organizations embark on RPA programs expecting to realize significant benefits quickly, with minimal effort, and little or no disruption to current processes or applications. When challenges arise, these organizations realize they’ve forgotten the vital ‘P’ in RPA: process! Read on to find out more about overcoming RPA implementation challenges.

The right processes to avoid RPA implementation challenges

One of the most common RPA implementation challenges is the rush to get started. In the hurry to reap the rewards of reduced errors, more efficient work, and decreased costs, organizations can sometimes overlook the need to carefully select which processes will benefit most from automation.

In other words, one of the simplest ways to overcome RPA challenges is to make sure you have selected the right task (or set of tasks) that will best be enhanced by an RPA solution. These tasks are likely to be repetitive, susceptible to human error, dealing with specific digital information in a specific way, and be of high volume and high priority.

A short list of the types of tasks RPA is good for might include:

  • Payroll, travel reimbursements, and other employee financial transactions
  • Recruitment and onboarding of new employees
  • Finance Department activities (accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing)
  • Processing application forms
  • Managing inventory
  • Creating reports and summaries of organizational data
  • Onboarding vendors

In the majority of these cases, an RPA solution can be introduced with relative ease, especially as programming skills are not necessary to configure a software robot. This means employees with specific knowledge of each process, but potentially limited technical background, can set up an RPA solution that understands the role it is intended to undertake.

In addition, RPA can be implemented with very little disruption to existing IT infrastructure, though this comes with a couple of caveats: once again, the importance of selecting the right processes to automate, and just as crucially, ensuring IT staff are well-briefed and supportive of the RPA solution.

The right relationships to avoid RPA implementation challenges

There are few more crucial relationships when integrating RPA than with an organization’s existing IT landscape—both infrastructure and personnel. When planned and implemented in a realistic way, with early buy-in and full cooperation from the IT department, RPA benefits from a comparatively simple structure, which allows for implementation with minimal changes to existing systems.

The small IT integration effort required at the beginning of an RPA initiative is likely to be significantly outweighed by the benefits. In fact, RPA technology itself will provide opportunities, because organizations will need people who are skilled in implementing, managing, and maintaining the interfaces between automated functions and human activity. The full extent of IT involvement will depend on the type of RPA solution used, but it is likely to vary from the ‘light touch’ approach, where IT provides access to virtual desktops, servers and passwords, to more comprehensive efforts requiring a little more work at the start for full deployment.

Getting IT on board

However, despite its promise to eliminate tedious tasks, some IT employees fear an increase in workload relating to RPA implementation. In particular, IT experts are all too aware that they are often called upon for damage control when the latest “quick fix” is implemented, and doesn’t quite go according to plan. As Leslie Willcocks, Professor of Technology, Work, and Globalization at the Department of Management, London School of Economics says:

“The reason IT gets worried is that they know the disruptive, potentially disastrous effects of people playing around with IT in the organization without understanding how it’s going to upset infrastructure, governance, security, and all the important touchpoints that IT is held responsible for. So it’s not surprising to find IT functions in denial about RPA and what it can do.”

The solution to potential RPA implementation challenges arising from the IT team is simple: support IT staff to act as educators in their own right.

By ensuring your organization’s IT department is fully engaged in the rollout of any RPA solution, you can create a role for IT experts to support other staff in coming to terms with RPA. Having additional voices providing informed feedback throughout the project can also be a very helpful way of identifying and dealing with any unexpected RPA implementation challenges early on.

Webcast: RPA 2020 & Beyond

Gartner asserts that 40% of large enterprises will have adopted an RPA tool by 2020, but only 3% of companies have managed to scale RPA to 50 robots or more. A significant barrier is complexity—how can an organization move on once the easy-to-automate processes are taken care of?

Chris Collins, Chairman of i-Realise, will be exploring the complexities of RPA implementation further in an upcoming Signavio webcast—and you’re invited! With a focus on how to move past ‘low-hanging fruit’ and into truly enterprise-level RPA, the webcast will take a strategic focus, and explain how you can make use of the power of SAP Signavio Process Intelligence to find the next best opportunities for an RPA solution.

If you’re keen to find out more, the webcast will take place live on December 3rd, and there is still time to book your place. Just visit the webcast registration page and sign up today. It’s free, and best of all, if you can’t make it to the live version, the full webcast will be available for download at your convenience.

Next steps

If you’re keen to avoid RPA implementation challenges in your own work, you can build a foundation for effective and strategic RPA by downloading Signavio’s 7 Step Guide to Enterprise Level RPA. When you're ready to discover what RPA implementation looks like in practice, as well as what you need to watch out for, you can learn more with our white paper about overcoming the challenges of RPA implementation. And of course, to see how the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite can help prepare your processes for automation, why not sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

Published on: November 26th 2019 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020