Robotic Process Automation or RPA is in vogue and is often an essential part of any digital transformation programme involving a corporate. Mundane and employee-intensive tasks can often be replaced by RPA - in fact, in the IT industry, these army of bots threaten to replace men on a large scale.
A reality check by Pegasystems Inc., an enterprise cloud software company, shows up stuff that is interesting. The company ran a survey of 500 decision makers employing a range of RPA solutions across many industries globally. While few doubt the value of deploying bots, they grapple with multiple challenges. Here are some of the findings:
Most respondents in the survey realised value from automating some of their operations with bots. About 66 per cent said that bots are even more effective than originally anticipated, while only 7 per cent felt bots didn't meet expectations.
Corporations, nevertheless, have been struggling with deployment and maintenance of these bots, the survey found. About 50 per cent said that the bots are harder to deploy than they first thought. "This flies in the face of narratives of RPA being so easy that anyone can build and deploy bots with minimal training. Full-scale automation programs require experienced automation developers, extensive investments in training, and ongoing collaboration between business and IT to be successful," the survey states.
Speed of deployment is a second challenge. On average, respondents said that it takes 18 months to push bots into production and only 39 per cent of the bots are deployed on schedule. "This lackluster rate of on-time delivery has enormous implications; delays in RPA deployment can delay broader transformation efforts," the survey warns.
Bot failure is the third pain-point. About 87 per cent of bot users experience some sort of bot breakage or failure. "With RPA, small disruptions in the end-to-end process lead to much larger problems down the line as tasks get stuck in a queue, even during smaller bot breakages and outages," the survey points out. Why is there so much failure? The survey explains that bots act as a bridge between two software applications. "But enterprise software rarely stands still; a simple software upgrade, change to the UI, or business logic change can completely break a bot. This can lead to more maintenance headaches that will just compound over time as software continues to evolve."
The survey concludes that while RPA is valuable in the digital transformation journey, companies should view this as a temporary measure to automate legacy applications. "The ultimate goal of transformation should be intelligent process redesign and application modernisation."