Main challenges of implementing Robotic Process Automation
Nowadays every organization wants to have their own RPA tool to speed up all internal processes. But it is necessary to think what challenges face the organization in relation to RPA implementation. To better understand the complexity of this problem, I will divide the main challenges into groups and discuss each of them in detail.
Business challenges of implementing RPA
- Value of RPA for the company – The business needs to choose which sector will be the most valuable to automate. There will be many areas in which automation will speed up processes, but automation of some processes will be more valuable for the company than others. For this reason there is the need to focus on a strategic region of the company, for which the RPA team will prepare a personalized RPA tool (for example if the company works with many documents, the best solution will be to use intelligent OCR technology with a dedicated RPA tool).
- Choose the right processes – Before choosing processes for automation, think which processes can be easily automated by RPA and whether they can be fixed by the organization before RPA implementation. RPA is a great opportunity to take advantage of when a process is based on rules, repetitive, high in volume and when human judgement isn’t required. Of course RPA can collaborate with humans, but the company needs to know that human intervention will slow down the whole automation process.
- Incomplete description of processes – Organizations with long and complex processes often forget to describe all cases of the process, and the analysis made by the RPA developer reveals some cases as critical, which blocks the whole automation. All documentation needs to be prepared with the highest accuracy by the product owner, and the RPA developer needs to point out crucial data for the automation process.
Technical challenges of implementing RPA
- Working with Citrix environment – Not all RPA tools work well on remote desktop environments – they cause crashes and critical problems in automation. What’s more, the RPA developer needs to have the knowledge which OCR solution will be the best for a specific case. To work with Citrix correctly, the RPA developer needs to choose OCR technology created by Microsoft, Google or Abbyy and use a method that will find Relative Elements for elements that need to be found by the RPA tool.
- Different types of input data – in a process, there are many documents that have an unstructured form and include different types of data (document scans in jpg or pdf format, email, doc, xlsx, handwritten notes placed on documents). In this case, there are two ways of solving this problem: by using an RPA tool with OCR that will handle all documents, or using an RPA tool separately from an advanced OCR tool with AI region recognition. All decisions which solution to choose depend on the volume of documents and complexity of data recognition in a document template.
- Multiple process integration – a business process is performed in multiple systems, each one with its own architecture, user permissions and data structure. Experience in working with well-known business tools such as SAP or Salesforce allows the RPA developer to separate and configure data forms at an early stage, integrate data between systems or send it to a database if it will be needed later.
- Operations performed beyond the processes and exception handling – not all data will be sent correctly to the system according to process description, because in some cases the data is configured in other tools, so it will be another challenge for automation. It is crucial to spend some time with employees who know the process and can show it in details; it will minimize problems that could slow down the whole automation process.
- Quality of input data – if a document is scanned in a very low quality, the OCR technology won’t be able to recognize and export data in the correct form. Using Document Capture tools with auto fit to page and auto filter functions enables increasing the quality of the scanned document and receiving correct data on output.
- Regression testing and system updates – before upgrading, RPA tools need to be checked in detail by regression tests because updating to the newest version may cause unstable behavior. To provide stability, it is necessary to check all versions all the time and use the best practices when implementing the newest version of system software. The RPA team can create a robot that will check the type of version and alert that a regression test is required.
Organizational challenges of implementing RPA
- Permissions from the security department – implementation of RPA is associated with giving all levels of security permissions, which takes a lot of time. Analysis of processes enables dividing the whole process into smaller pieces that can be performed by a robot with dedicated permissions from the security department.
- Cooperation with leaders and employees – one of the biggest challenges is a good relationship between the leaders and the employees that are worried about their position in the organization. The leaders need to explain why RPA implementation is needed and explain that RPA is the personal assistant of each employee and will help them to achieve their goals and minimize repetitive activities in processes, while at the same time increasing the efficiency of the whole organization.
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