A Case Study of Failure Modes of Robotic Process Automation

Posted on 22/Jun/2019 03:15: PM

Looking at cost pressure, dynamic business requirements and huge IT legacy, “Robotic Process Automation” has slowly emerged as one of the key levers to expedite Business transformation journey for many organizations. Every other Business function, BPO service Provider & the complete IT industry is busy sharing numerous success stories around RPA implementation. Also at the same time, RPA product organizations are busy oversimplifying the technology. Over-all, the RPA industry is continuously evolving on a daily basis and creating a positive mark on many large business organizations.

Just like every coin has two faces, RPA also has significantly high failure rate. It is thus important to critically evaluate the “success” element of RPA case studies and carefully understand various failure modes.

Lack of thorough due diligence on process selection and business case creation

In order to expedite transformation journey, agreeing on the outcome on the basis of superficial process assessment and then force fitting the RPA solution to meet the numbers often results in long term failures. Selective Automation is the key. Many a times, the rule of 80-20 is applied to reap maximum benefits. Low volume exceptions are typically kept out of scope for the Robots. There exists few cases in the Industry where RPA is implemented with huge effort to automate processes worth 20-40 person hours of effort per month. This aspect is critical to success and thus should be dealt carefully with thorough due diligence.

Each RPA problem can be solved using multiple solution patterns. Striking a right balance between business process re-engineering and technology is the key. Too much technology often impacts the return on investment and also poses huge risk of failure. Cognitive is the biggest buzz world today in the Industry. It’s good to include cognitive aspects as part of the over-all solution but only when it is individually providing the desired corresponding benefits.

This is the key aspect & core reason for any business process where failure begins, Feat systems shortly coming up with automation process discovery or automation process assessment tools to eradicate this core issue of automation failure. Stay tuned at www.featsystems.com and www.amazingrpa.com

Lack of alignment with all concerned stakeholders

Typically RPA Initiatives are driven by the Business side of the Organization with very late involvement of IT Organization. In an enthusiasm to accomplish early benefits of RPA and considering simplified approach from various RPA products, Business organizations are often tending towards overconfidence. And thus end up with half-baked transformation strategy.

Consider one example- One of the large global courier services company while awarding the service contract agreed for an approach where offshore transition was planned along with transformation. While this helped in reducing the over-all cost, it resulted in mad rush from the Service provider towards RPA implementation. Limited knowledge on processes, IT and infrastructure landscape played its trick and finally huge re-work on RPA implementation. Another example is where one large global Bank while defining their RPA strategy for ~3000 FTEs transformation, were constrained by their existing security policies and not able to provide credentials for third party RPA developers and also the access for test environment. Work-arounds were identified and the complete delivery methodology proved out to be so inefficient that the whole initiative got delayed significantly with huge exception rates.


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