With automation and Robotic Process Automation or as it is more commonly referred to by its three-letter acronym RPA becoming more normalized in the industry so has been a growing number of misconceptions about the technology. Whether it’s that bots are going to take over all of our jobs or that RPA is just a waste of money I’m sure that everyone has heard at least one of these myths about RPA. Myths aside, it’s important to understand the truth about RPA so that you are able to better understand the technology and how it can help improve your company and its processes. When done right RPA can drastically change the face of business.
Myth 1: RPA is going to replace humans
Despite all of the sci-fi movies created around AI, automation, RPA, and robots there will not be a Terminator situation created because of automation in the workplace. RPA itself is not intelligent. It is unable to perform like a human worker. It’s unable to make decisions on its own and doesn’t have common sense either. Due to this lack of intelligence, RPA will never be able to outperform a human worker.
RPA specifically is confined by rule-based logic. This means that RPA can only operate on the rules it is coded with rather than human-based logic and reasoning. This means that the areas where RPA is succeeding the most are the types of jobs that become highly error-prone due to repetition. Because of this RPA is helping employees accomplish more meaningful work rather than hurting them by saving employees hours a day. This allows workers to have more time to focus on more meaningful work. And let’s remember digital workers are not performing jobs, they’re completing tasks. This means they are able to assist the human workforce in reducing errors and repetition.
Myth 2: RPA is all about cost reduction
Although one of the main and most clear benefits that are brought up when considering RPA is cost reduction, there are many other benefits to RPA and the changes that it will promote within the business. It’s important to note and consider these added benefits when considering your next RPA project.
Being process focused will allow you to understand the way that RPA can change the current process in a business. Understanding the value of a good process and the issues that occur when there is a bad process in place. A good process saves more than money. With an improved process, companies are able to benefit from improved efficiency, quicker turnaround times, improved customer satisfaction and so much more than an improved bottom line. Although these may not directly contribute to cost savings, they can contribute to increased revenue and satisfaction that are equally important to the business and should be considered during your next digital transformation effort.
Myth 3: RPA isn’t worth the upfront cost
By no means is RPA a cheap endeavor or undertaking, but frequently it takes some time to see a large ROI. RPA is not a technology that will always lead to thousands in savings right away but instead creates little wins that add up to large benefits down the line, just like we have seen with ERP in the past.
What leads to the bad reputation of RPA investment is the large gap in ROI that some organizations are seeing. Companies are able to expect anywhere between a 30–300% ROI on their RPA efforts in the first year alone. So, what contributes to this gap? It begins with the different planning efforts that kick off the transformation. It’s no secret that adequate planning leads to shorter development stages, faster turnaround, and increased accuracy the first time around. Before any RPA implementation, it is essential that you have a full understanding of all of your business processes. This way you can pick the process that makes the most sense and have a layout of the rules the digital workforce should follow before ever having to interview any workers.
Myth 4: RPA is right 100% of the time
A large misconception is that once RPA is in place it will create the right output forever and can operate seamlessly on its own. This is simply not the case. RPA just like human workers can make mistakes. Worse is that your bots will not know when they make a mistake. Simply automating bad tasks, will only make bad tasks occur faster. RPA operates on code and has no sense of common sense which means that these digital workers may even make mistakes that are obvious to a human. When these mistakes are made, they do not trigger an indication, they do not correct themselves, and they continue to create these bad outcomes. This means that the outputs need to be continuously monitored for quality.
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No, this doesn’t mean that someone now needs to look over each output manually. It doesn’t mean that there needs to be a dashboard up on the wall where you wait for a glaring red number either. With new types of technology like process mining or sophisticated process intelligence, there is no need for these archaic practices.
Provided with real-time monitoring and alerting these checks and balances can be established so that you never have to worry about checking on your new digital workforce. Simply set up what types of outcomes you would like to be alerted about via text and/or email and fix mistakes sooner or avoid them altogether. This way you can proceed with the confidence you deserve with your new digital workforce.
Myth 5: RPA won’t work in some sectors
Every industry and sector is made up of its own unique processes. Although we may not want to admit it, some of those processes are repetitive and time-consuming whether this is simple data entry or comparison and no industry is omitted from this. There are few qualifications that actually make a process a good candidate for automation. These include:
- The process follows rules-based, rather than judgment-based decisions
- The process is repetitive and prone to human error
- The process follows a clear set of instructions
- If there is input data, it is digitized or can be with methods such as OCR
Further questions that you should ask when questioning if a process is a good candidate for automation are explained in our blog Are you asking these questions before implementing RPA? You should be…. As long as the process follows these standards there is an opportunity for automation. This means that there are a plethora of processes that can be automated now and in the future.
Whether you are in banking, insurance, retail, or any other sector there will always be a repetitive process somewhere in a department. Dig deeper into your processes and you will surely find opportunities for automation. Unsure of where your processes stand? Process intelligence can help to assist you in gaining process clarity and identify these highly repetitive tasks.
Myth 6: Any process can be automated
Although there are many different opportunities for RPA, not all processes are the best candidate for RPA. Only processes that are well defined, rule-based, and have a clear set of instructions are good candidates for RPA. This means processes that have a lot of logic or wouldn’t be able to be clearly explained probably should stay away from automation. However, this doesn’t mean that these processes can’t be improved.
There are many other ways to get better efficiency, cost reduction, and more within your existing processes that don’t involve RPA. It all starts with process understanding and knowing how your processes operate on a day to day basis. Process Intelligence allows for full process clarity so that things like bottlenecks and inefficiencies are quickly found and understood. Continuous improvement opportunities lie in all of your processes, not just where they can be automated.
Future Business Survival is Dependent on Intelligent Automation
Intelligent automation uses advanced process analysis to observe historical patterns and predict future bottlenecks that are difficult for people to assess. With advanced automation solutions, decisions based on process mining algorithms as well as machine learning techniques can be better made. This enables the execution of business processes to be analyzed and certain behaviors to be predicted that may result from certain steps in the process. Intelligent automation can make recommendations for robot-controlled or human decisions, which enables a tighter and more efficient process flow.
A properly applied automation strategy is also able to predict possible bottlenecks and to reconcile them with the available resources in real-time. This means that you can not only react to problems that have already occurred but also proactively avoid potential bottlenecks, setbacks, and delays. The combination of advanced process mining, recognition of process flow patterns, and machine learning can initiate corrective actions in good time and update bots in real-time. This closes the automation loop.
Without intelligent automation, companies can only act reactively and only realize problems when it is already too late. When monthly or quarterly reports are due, employees will discover problems that have already occurred and that cannot be changed. Acting only when problems have already arisen is now considered a concept from the Stone Age if there are already technologies that could prevent this.
So why wait to use this technology? Why should you avoid giving yourself an enormous competitive advantage and saving time and money? We know that early adopters experience better process execution and benefit enormously. In addition, skilled workers can finally focus on more value-adding and demanding tasks that would otherwise be left behind to the detriment of the company.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are common business tools that are used in countless technologies, including process intelligence. With all the advantages shown, it should be obvious to any company that wants to secure its future: not investing in intelligent automation is a step in the wrong direction.
Do not be hindered or held back by the myths. Get started on your next intelligent process automation initiative today.