Robotic process automation (RPA) will be commonplace in finance departments by 2020, but implementation will likely see failures at three key stages: Planning, building and testing, said market research firm Gartner, Inc.
At the planning stage, RPA deployments often fail to deliver on expectations because they are planned as an end-to-end process, rather than focused on a single activity within a process. A focus on mapping an entire process will delay implementation significantly and create extra work.
Gartner also recommends that finance leaders focus on identifying the areas of responsibility needed to manage RPA, rather than relying on traditional, fixed roles for this purpose.
At the building stage, difficulties again occur when leaders treat RPA deployment the same way as they have legacy technology projects.
Traditional technology deployments have relied on a Big Bang approach, where the majority of potential use cases are mapped and tested before the project is implemented. A list of requirements is generated and vendors are asked to submit their proposals. “You don’t need to figure out every possible use case and requirement of an RPA solution before you begin,” said Johanna Robinson, managing vice-president and head of finance research at Gartner. “This will just result in spending more time and money than is really needed.”
At the testing stage, relying too much on information technology (IT) teams and vendors to identify the issues and needs for deploying robots often causes failures. The organisation’s RPA team should take the lead in clarifying and directing support needed from the IT team and vendors at the appropriate times.
RPA is the use of software with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. These tasks can include queries, calculations and maintenance of records and transactions.
Robinson said, “The benefits of successful RPA deployments within finance include a reduction in errors from manual work and a redeployment of full-time employees to higher value activities.” Robinson added, “But robots are only as good as the people who design and manage them.
Financial chiefs should start any RPA deployment by ensuring they understand the new agile mindset needed to implement the technology, with the right competencies in place to manage it.”
Robinson said, “Unlike many new technologies, RPA has the potential to deliver significant business benefits on day one.”
“To deploy RPA successfully, finance leaders must embrace a new mindset. Unless finance departments take a more agile approach when implementing RPA, they are likely to experience failures at each phase of implementation and won’t realise the full potential of the technology,” she added.