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Three factors for RPA implementation success

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Sanjay Srivastava

Chief Digital Officer

October 16, 2017 - Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a company that’s not implementing or considering Robotic Process Automation (RPA). It’s easy to see why – as RPA uses software code, a.k.a “bots,” to copy and perform repetitive software application tasks normally done manually, such as data migration and invoicing. These bots can not only accurately and quickly execute such repetitive work, but also free up staff for other activities focused on delivering better customer service and driving profits. Plus, RPA doesn’t require expensive and time consuming integrations since it works with systems on the user interface level. 

Recently, my Genpact colleague Gal Horvitz shared with Information Management that, “The promise of RPA is creating massive hype in the market, which is being leveraged by RPA vendors to position their products as the ‘silver bullet’ for any company looking to streamline and optimize operations.” Yet in spite of this hype and all the strengths of RPA, the fact is many implementations actually fail. There are few examples of success, among the thousand-plus bots that have been deployed. But the problem doesn’t lie with the technology, it’s actually common mistakes found during implementation.

Below are three factors that separate successful RPA implementations from the failures.

1. RPA is just one part of a bigger picture

Successful organizations don’t think of RPA as the be-all and end-all of their digital journey – but merely one part of a broader plan. Real, beneficial automation encompasses a set of complementary technologies that together address the entire requirement. Many companies that complete their RPA implementation find they need other automation and AI to really see an impact on business outcomes. For example, after automating repetitive work through RPA, they can apply machine learning to the new digitized data. Next, they can add conversational AI to use next best action (NBA) insights from the learned patterns and have chatbots automatically answer incoming customer queries for faster service.

2. Focus on design before implementation

Many companies get so focused on just getting their bots up and running that they dive headfirst into software configuration and neglect the critical preliminary step of design. Instead, they need to think of the ultimate goal of the automation, map out the end-to-end process, and determine the subsets of processes to automate with RPA and their impact on the rest of operations. After all, most enterprise processes do not exist in a vacuum – they act upon previous processes and trigger subsequent actions. This means tasks changed by RPA often have downstream and upstream ripple effects, which need to be taken into account or else the implementation will end in failure.

3. Proper governance over the bots

When people set up bots, they usually assume that the technology will just run on its own and there’s not much else to do. In reality, these bots need management and maintenance, especially since a core function of RPA is working with other systems. From software version updates to security patches, there are a lot of things that can interfere and prevent the bots from doing their job. For instance, if a password changes within an application and the bot can no longer log in, then the automation will come to a grinding halt. Without governance, the issue may go on for weeks or months before anyone notices, with the business suffering as a consequence. But if a process is in place for monitoring and managing the bots, issues can be spotted and addressed quickly so everything can keep running smoothly.

By applying the factors listed above, organizations readying to embark on RPA and their greater digital journey can set themselves on the path to success. For more insight on how to succeed with RPA implementations, read my latest column on CIO.com, “Why RPA Implementations Fail,” or my article on Computer Business Review, “Revealed: The secrets behind a successful RPA implementation.”


About Sanjay Srivastava - Chief Digital Officer

Sanjay Srivastava is Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer for Genpact. He is responsible for Genpact’s digital technology strategy and implementation, overseeing the software and services that the company provides to its clients – in key areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive computing, dynamic workflow, data analytics, and mobility.


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