Robotic Process Automation: Myths and Misconceptions

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as one of the most innovative technology solutions in the recent years. RPA has been widely recognized as the next big step to change the way organizations work. Organizations can leverage on RPA to save time, money, and resources through the automation of repetitive and monotonous back-office processes. Despite plenty of successful RPA implementations across different industries, there are still a number of significant myths and misconception about RPA. In this article, we will discuss the five most common myths and misconceptions that we encounter in RPA projects.

1. Robots Will Replace Humans

The first and most significant misconception is that RPA exists to eliminate the jobs of humans. RPA is excellent in handling simple, repetitive low-value tasks. If the work you do consists of these simple repetitive tasks, then your concerns may be realistic, but they are not simply due to the existence of RPA. Low-value repetitive tasks can equally be replaced by another software tool, by an intern, or by a low-cost outsourcing company. The fact is that the world is changing rapidly, and most organizations are required to focus on higher value-added tasks. To draw a simple analogy,  the existence of printers, calculators, machines, the internet, etc. did not destroy any job environment, but the introduction of these technologies transformed the way people executed their jobs.

The rapid rise of RPA technology will likely mean that many jobs will be partially, or fully automated, freeing human employees from repetitive and monotonous tasks, so they can invest their time and energy in tasks that require creative thinking, intellectual judgment, or social skills (e.g. sales, marketing, strategy, solutions). In fact, the World Economic Forum Report predicts the “robot revolution” will actually create 58 million new jobs, with an emphasis on reskilling and upskilling employees. Moreover, according to a Forbes Insights report, 92% of companies saw improvement in employees’ satisfaction after deploying RPA to automate repetitive tasks.

Ultimately, the existence of RPA is transforming, rather than replacing roles. Human employees will be supplemented by the introduction of RPA technologies. The help of software robots in their daily task will enable them to be more productive, so more work can be done within the same period.

2. RPA Software Robots Are 100% Accurate

RPA software robots are only as accurate as how the robot developer programs them to be. RPA software robots are not equipped with cognitive capabilities, and they are designed to only execute a set of pre-configured instructions. If there are flaws in the set of instructions provided to the RPA software robot, they will still execute the instructions as configured, and replicate the same error until someone spots it.

Therefore, it is important for any robot developer to ensure processes are tested and optimized before the automation will go into production. Afterwards, the robot owner needs to keep monitoring the software robot to ensure no errors are coming up.

3. RPA Will Not Work In My Industry

Often there seems to be a belief that RPA is only applicable for certain industries, like finance and banking, for example. Yet the fact is that back-office activities must be carried out in all industries, which makes RPA relevant to most, if not all industries. Whenever there are repetitive, standardised, and numerous menial tasks to complete, RPA has the potential place to fill. RPA can be deployed for simple tasks like data entry, to complicated tasks like insurance claims processing, accounts payable/receivable etc.

Every organization, regardless of industry, will have back-office processes that need to be executed. Invoices need to be booked, payrolls need to be prepared, and reports need to be generated. In most organizations, there are still large groups of people that manually copy information from different places and consolidate this information in an Excel sheet. For any of these activities, RPA can provide an adequate solution.

4. RPA Is Expensive And Not Worth The Investment

RPA, like any other business initiative, requires an initial upfront investment in license fees and implementation costs. From the provisioning of IT infrastructure, the design of automated workflows and the time investment to get the organization up to speed, investments are required.

From our experience, investing in RPA is only expensive for organizations who only use limited use of technology. An organization that uses RPA to automate only one process, or only use RPA data entry, will struggle to see a good return on investment. On the other hand, when an RPA solution is properly set up and structured, it can improve efficiency, productivity and lower operational costs, making the return on investment far exceed the implementation costs.

Studies often find that RPA implementation provides superior productivity and efficiency, significant error reduction, operational cost reduction, service delivery improvement and employee satisfaction in a short period of time. There are plenty of case studies mentioned that organizations achieved a significant amount of ROI within the first few months of implementation.

5. RPA Is Mainly About Cost Saving

A last common misconception that we frequently hear is that RPA is solutions focus mostly on cost savings. Implementation of RPA into an organization brings much more benefits than they should have focused on, and cost saving is only the by-product after RPA is deployed. Let’s look into the benefits RPA could bring:

1. Increased operational efficiency
Software robots work faster than humans, and they can operate 24/7/365 without break. Therefore, they eliminate delays by eliminating the complacency creates by repetitive and monotonous tasks.

2. Increased employee productivity
Software robots eliminate the unnecessary workload on employees, enabling them to focus on their expertise and provide a value-added workforce to their organizations.

3. Elimination of errors
When humans process tasks that are tedious, repetitive and monotonous, the rate of making mistakes increases. While software robots are able to run continuously as per designed without error.

4. Improved Service Delivery
Whenever you are serving internal or external customers, their level of satisfaction is proportional to the accuracy, quality, and efficiency of services. Therefore, even when you automate a small part of the service you provide to your customers with RPA, you will instantly observe the increases in service quality and customer satisfaction.

5. Raised Employees Satisfaction
When RPA is deployed to process repetitive and monotonous tasks, and human employees focus on more satisfying high-value tasks, this raises employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and increases employee retention.

6. Increased compliance
With the availability of automated reports that document all software robot’s activities, you don’t have to worry about complying with internal or external regulations.

7. RPA Scalability
The scalability of RPA is tremendously critical to an organization, where they can scale up or down depending on the business needs with either minimal or no extra cost, while expecting the absolute consistency in performance.

This list shows that the benefits from RPA solutions go beyond just the financial motive, and that there are many additional reasons why RPA is a good idea. So next time you hear a common RPA misconception again, you will have the knowledge to address these points.

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