Why Robotic Process Automation Alone Won’t Save You

Solomon Aromolaran

RPA is all the rage these days. Here’s why you shouldn’t rush to go buy that new software.

If you’re trying to grow a company in 2020, you’ve probably at least heard of robotic process automation (RPA) and it’s myriad benefits. RPA enables businesses to automate recurring tasks within their workflows. Its implementation has led to major gains in productivity, increased process efficiency, and higher value time for teams. Companies have used RPA to automate their taxes, payrolls, credit card reconciliations and several other financial and business processes.

So what reason, if any, is there for you not to join in the rush to digitalization and implement RPA in your company? The answer is execution. Business executives and professionals have become so allured by the prospective benefits, that they may be overlooking the difficulties that come along with implementing RPA. In 2018, a Bain survey of finance executives found that 75% expected to be using RPA in the next two years. Yet, a study published in Business Today found that the failure rate for robotic process automation is 30-50%.

As with any emerging technology, there are pain points associated with implementation. On the one hand, new training is needed so that employees can manage these tools. There are changes in previously cemented workflows and overall processes that may prove extremely difficult for businesses in transition. On the other hand, if/when an automation tool fails, new employees are no longer able to execute those processes manually. In this case, a business is hamstrung and fully dependent on their RPA tools to work as expected. 

Assuming the tools work AND the employees have been trained in their use, there is still the problem of coordination. With companies rapidly increasing their reliance upon various technologies, they face two challenges. The first is coordinating the use of these tools in the most efficient and seamless manner possible. The second is in leveraging each tool to the maximum level possible. Companies with IT specialists/departments have been most adept at realizing the potentials that technology presents, but those without often meet outcomes well below the expectation.

So how can a business looking to scale effectively take advantage of the benefits of RPA, without the frictional costs that execution brings (or even the overall loss that improper implementation of RPA might cause)? The solution is a new model called “worksharing.” 

Worksharing combines the best elements of BPO (business process outsourcing) and RPA, without losing the crucial component of human discretion. The magic of worksharing is that you don’t need to create new workflows, or develop training programs to implement new software. 

However, you are able to achieve the productivity and efficiency gains that properly implemented and integrated RPA provides. 

The key is that worksharing companies have already done the dirty work of implementation and integration. This allows you to escape the costs of execution, while also enjoying the benefits of the tested processes that worksharing companies have built and perfected. 

If you’re looking to keep up with the transition to digital processes and experience multiplied productivity and efficiency 一 all without totally re-inventing your workflows and process structure 一 worksharing, not RPA, is your answer.