“Your RPA | Intelligent Automation project will almost certainly fail if you don’t mitigate against these risks right now”​ – Part 4 of 6

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“Your RPA | Intelligent Automation project will almost certainly fail if you don’t mitigate against these risks right now”​ – Part 4 of 6

It can be a false economy for an organisation to attempt to rapidly introduce an automation program without planning for, and mitigating against, risk. Today we consider expectation and execution risks.

Part 1 looked at strategic and implementation partner risks. Part 2 looked at tooling selection, testing and stakeholder buy-in risks. Today we look at people, cultural and financial risks. Part 3 looked at people, cultural and financial risks; today we look at expectation and execution risks.

Expectation Risk:

Whilst Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help organisation achieve a great deal it cannot deliver world peace. In the recent past RPA was oversold by overzealous sales agents with no experience, analysts who never built a bot in their life and business executives who should have known better. Now the rules of the RPA game are well established but delivery expectations remain high.

1. Over inflated expectations – Never told the business that RPA alone is enough to digitally transform an organisation.

2. No RACI in place before a program begins so no one is sure who is Responsible or Accountable for what.

3. Not moving at pace, ignoring Agile or solely relying on waterfall delivery methods when digital demands dexterity.

4. Customer and BA onshore; developers disconnected or disengaged offshore

5. Not testing the code enough and expecting the code to work from day 1.

6. Lack of visible progress at company level as no communications planning was put in place to manage expectations.

7. Automating a process that does not have sufficient volume to deliver a benefit

“Another major area of automation failure is automating a process which are not running enough volume as assessed earlier you can make use of BOT sharing (should be designed in that way) in such scenarios to reduce BOT Idle time and use the licenses effectively. Always make sure that realizing the assessed ROIs is a combined responsibility of both Business in terms of delivering the volume, providing process guidance and Delivery team in terms of making the design as scalable, robust and BOT sharing ready as possible.”

Manish Rawat, Intelligent Automation Technical Manage

8. Incomplete process documentation making support difficult to impossible if the developer leaves

“Firms need to think beyond what they are currently doing if they want to out compete your competition. Don’t just automate how you currently work. Digital has opened a host of opportunities that allow you to truly reinvent and transform how you deliver value to your customers.”

Faisal Iftikhar, Cognitive Automation Expert and Global Vice President

Execution Risk:

Organisations can obtain a great deal of value from their automation and digital transformation programs if they execute a program correctly. They will get next to no benefit if a program is poorly executed.

1. Picked wrong process or area to begin with and failed to ignite program from day 1.

Discovery Risk “Apart from the FTE and volume calculations, it is important to have a clear view of the 5 year roadmap of the applications involved in the process. The ROI for the automation process are realized over a period of time so make sure that there are no major changes to the application like application decommissioning, technology change beforehand. “

Manish Rawat, Intelligent Automation Technical Manager

2. POC too ambitious and fails removing team and business confidence from the start.

3. Selecting processes that constantly change. You cannot hit a moving target.

“Standardized does not always mean standardized: often clients say that their documents or processes are standardized, and they are from a logical point of view, but they are not from the viewpoint of automation. The human brain is more flexible than a robot, robots need much higher degrees of standardization”

Johannes Becker, Partner

4. Creating a push not a pull program; meaning every day is a hard day.

5. Not having enough robots to run processes in live production environment.

6. Not having a control room which operates around the clock to leverage the benefits of bots ability to run 24/7. Options to scale up internally, implement monitoring software, create ‘self healing bots’, and/or outsource the oversight of the control to a third party.

7. IT not involved from the start and become uncooperative when they are eventually approached to get involved in the program of work.

8. Selecting processes with multiple, multiple exceptions that result in heavy RTB (run the business costs) that such time from valuable CTB (create the business) work.

9. Poor project planning. Planned solely for success and forget to consider all the things that could go wrong.

10. Outsourced your COE to a third party thereby removing any control or knowledge transfer back to the business resulting in a lack of business ownership and ever increasing cost to an automation program.

“You should never outsource your Automation CoE. A developer role can be outsourced so long as they build the code in the right way and clearly document what they build, as per standards dictated. That said I recommend a competent in-house Architect and a controlled CoE oversees and manages this.”

Adam Bilson, Global Intelligent Automation Lead

11. Forget to engage your organisations IT, risk, compliance and/or security team(s) in the automation program plans.

12. Working with unclean data

“Most organisations have vast amounts of data stored in various places including legacy platforms, applications, emails, mobile devices and spreadsheets. The recent trend of leveraging big data means that companies are delving deeper into how their data is managed, where their data is stored and what format it is stored in. Most will find their data is unstructured. The cost of converting unstructured data is expensive, mining the data for analysis is complex and the exercise is time consuming. GDPR compliance and data security risks are just two reasons why organisations need to have robust data management policies.”

Sharan Kaur MBA, Global Architecture and Automation Lead

13. Did not redesign processes to be suitable for automation before beginning

14. Applied RPA to the wrong processes e.g. cognitive, not repeatable etc.

“Today, It is very important to have immediate benefits from the projects we deliver, so consider following the minimum viable product – MVP approach i.e. developing the independent part of the process instead of the whole solution which will have instant volume usage. But make sure to define input and output and overall architecture of the process in such a way that it can easily connect to the overall process in scope.”

Manish Rawat, Intelligent Automation Technical Manager

15. Build technical solutions but without great EX or CX results

16. Claimed a Citizen Developer program simply would not work but your organisation never tried to set one up.

17. Limited business time / engagement – Gave no SME time to the RPA developers and wondered why they did not produce what you needed or believed was needed.

“The Scope of work often is discussed in liquid form when the C – Level teams of each parties meet however the important actions and details behind each task and activities if not described in the SOW would led to mis communications , automation mile stones being missed , ownership of actions lost in the bargain and bad taste in the partnerships leading to bad reputation to both.”

Shrippad Mhaddalkar – RPA  Expert

18. Fragmented processes – When RPA did not work because your progresses were fragmented, your organisation claimed that it needed Intelligent Automation to work instead.

“It is important that we should consider every automation as an opportunity of standardization, instead of using the methods of Input and Output that are hard to recognize/digitize e.g. free text, hand written inputs, emails without designated subjects etc. try to standardize the input/output to a more digitized ones such as a share-point form etc.”

Manish Rawat, Intelligent Automation Technical Manager

19. Spent too long automating a process for every exception; ignoring Pareto 80:20 which says 80% of the value is obtained in automating 20% of the process.

Don´t spend too much time to optimize processes: If you automate a process that done manually takes 15 minutes, in most cases it does not matter much to the client whether after automation it runs for 45 or 55 seconds – but gaining these 10 seconds can be very expensive.

Johannes Becker, Partner

20. Treating an automation program as any other IT program and following a waterfall approach meaning delays in value being received by the business.

“Don’t assume agile is going to magically make you successful either. Probably the best methodology is designing an approach that suits your business i.e. it is rigorous where it counts and agile when that works. If the requirements are fluid, the project is going to fail or take much longer so mix the best aspects of different approaches that bring you predictability. As an organisation and its automation capability matures, so increased agility can be adopted.

Bear in mind, there is no one size fits all methodology in Automation. Most traditional RPA Bots are very procedural with limited (if-then-else) decision making. The moment you adopt something like document processing with cognitive tools, the approach becomes different because you are training the technology, sometimes almost continually, not writing explicit logic rules. The more you move into Intelligent Automation, the more the approach will need to evolve.”

Simon Frank , RPA Lead

21. Tried a massively ambitious POV (proof of value) which was never going to succeed in 12 weeks never mind 120 weeks.

“Oftentimes, when an organization has already decided upon a process to automate, the desire to make it work, no matter what, creates a feeling that the organization is unable to pivot, regardless of if the process is appropriate for automation. Stand your ground, to upper management, process owners, and even implementation partners, if the process turns out to have low automation viability.”

Adam Cranmer, CPA, PMP, Intelligent Automation Senior Manager

“POC’s are to be performed not to be enlightened if RPA Technology works for you. There are enough collaterals available which will guide on the FIT FOR USE.

Perform POC on :

1) Value added steps in your process to ensure if the steps can be fully automated or partially automated.

2) On which OCR engines are fit for use for your kind of process

3) What is the ideal run time of the BOT for your current AS IS Process so that you can re-engineer and boost the run time

4) Be open to AOI’s thrown out while performing POC so that the adoption of RPA is smooth.”

Shrippad Mhaddalkar – RPA Expert  

There are inherent risks in any sizeable technology, transformation or business program. Organisations need to accept and plan for risks so that they can avoid or mitigate them.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 👇

About the author: I am a Digital Transformation expert. I am recognised as an intelligent automation, data analytics and robotic process automation industry leader. I write and talk extensively about better ways for businesses to use digital and intelligent automation technologies to drive business performance. Follow me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kierangilmurray/, join me monthly on LinkedIn live https://www.linkedin.com/company/third-thursday or connect on Twitter https://twitter.com/KieranGilmurray

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