Info-Tech Research Group, a global IT research and advisory firm, has published a new research blueprint that will enable organizations to support robotic process automation (RPA) delivery with strong collaboration and management foundations. Organizations have many business processes that rely on manual, routine, and repetitive data collection and processing work, and RPA can help automate these processes to meet strategic priorities.
RPA is a technology to automate rules-based, repetitive tasks performed by human workers to collect and process data. The “robots” in RPA are software bots that follow prescribed rules to carry out business processes. Bots distinguish RPA from other automation technologies by using an application’s user interface (UI) to interact with data sources and output targets as a human user would, rather than relying on programmatic access.
“The biggest challenge with RPA is not the technology,” says Senior Research Analyst Andrew Kum-Seun. “Rather, it is the organizational changes required to bring the business and IT together to jointly own and deliver successful RPA bots.”
Many organizations see RPA as a component of their digital transformation strategy. Of those surveyed, 69% of IT practitioners said digital transformation has been a high priority for their organization during the pandemic (Info-Tech Tech Trends 2022).
Info-Tech indicates that not every business capability is suitable for RPA. Regulations, corporate policies, process complexities, and ethics may impede the end-to-end automation that stakeholders expect. Many operating models do not enable or encourage the collaboration needed to evaluate business processes and underlying operational systems.
Organizations have struggled to scale RPA beyond the initial proof of concept. Many of the scaling impediments are not specific to RPA but are foundational to business operations, which can include:
- A lack of understanding or documentation of processes, or they do not reflect reality and are inefficient. Local automation adds to the process debt created by poorly designed and implemented processes.
- Insufficient IT support for automation and a lack of business involvement during the delivery process.
- Little desire to change how the business operates.
- No buy-in to manage technical debt, resulting in fragile and error-prone RPA solutions.
RPA brings significant opportunities to improve business productivity in a continuously changing environment. However, organizations are struggling to understand what it is and how it can specifically fit in their context. Info-Tech recommends the following approach:
- Establish the right expectations. Gain a grounded understanding of RPA value and limitations. Discuss current IT and business operations challenges to determine if they will impact RPA success.
- Build RPA governance. Clarify the roles, processes, and tools needed to support RPA delivery and management through IT and business collaboration.
- Evaluate the fit of RPA. Obtain a thorough view of the business and technical complexities of the candidate processes. Indicate where and how RPA is expected to generate the most return.
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- Download the complete Build Your First RPA Bot blueprint.
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