Business automation has been gaining popularity for a while, so it’s hardly surprising that the global RPA market is expected to reach $8.85 billion by 2024. What’s more, it’s certain to continue growing and reach new heights. You must have seen enthusiastic reviews about the wonders bots can do for businesses, especially in terms of cost savings and process accuracy. While it is true, there is also much misinformation, and it can be easy to fall for some of the common myths about RPA. Sure, automation requires thorough planning and a strategic approach. However, if left unchecked, these RPA myths can set unrealistic expectations and lead to poor business decisions, hindering your digitalization efforts.
Considering this and the fact that about half of all RPA projects fail, it is crucial to separate the wheat from the chaff from the very beginning.
Typical myths about RPA and the truth behind them
To help you get a clearer picture of what business automation is – and, more importantly, what it is not – we’ve prepared a shortlist of the most popular misconceptions companies have about this technology.
1. RPA will force human employees out of the market
Of all the RPA myths, this one is brought up most frequently. Will robots replace humans? At first glance, a plain “yes” looks logical. If a bot is more cost-effective, faster, and more accurate than a regular employee, then it is inevitable that the human workforce will have to give way to the digital one. Right?
The truth is that while 85 million jobs may disappear by 2025, automation will create 97 million new employment opportunities instead. No matter how sophisticated an RPA bot is, it still cannot operate independently. It requires setup, training, maintenance, and management, meaning there will be a growing need for the respective specialists.
There is already a rising demand for experts in machine learning, intelligent process automation, and digital transformation. In the near future, RPA may also trigger the appearance of unusual jobs such as AI psychologists or AI personality designers.
So, instead of depriving humans of their jobs, automation is more likely to free them from routine “robotic” tasks and provide new career and growth opportunities.
2. RPA solutions are so simple anyone can use them
This is one of the most persistent RPA myths, and to some extent, it is true. Many RPA solutions offer “drag-and-drop” and “record-and-play” functionality. In theory, it allows teams to automate processes on the fly with little to no programming skills.
But even without the involvement of coding, automating a flow is a weighty decision with far-reaching consequences. Many business operations are so complicated and interdependent that you cannot change any of them without affecting the others. So, if you delegate whatever suits your employees to bots, you may turn RPA into an uncontrollable venture that brings more harm than good to your company.
For a better understanding of what and how this technology is going to affect you, you need to:
- Have all “as-is” processes mapped and documented
- Identify interdependencies
- Document known exceptions, errors, and risks
- Define people involved in the to-be-automated processes
To avoid shadow deployments, automation islands, and other consequences of sporadic and uncontrolled automation, we recommend you establish an internal center of excellence and a solid governance framework. They will drive and coordinate your RPA initiative, ensuring it yields expected results.
3. Bots are 100 percent error-proof and accurate
Human error is a serious strategic risk to consider. People tend to make mistakes because they get bored, tired, demotivated, or they just misunderstand the assigned tasks. Although many myths about RPA position it as a way to prevent errors in business processes, there are many ways in which bots can fail:
- If a bot’s programmed logic is flawed, it will follow instructions incorrectly and commit the same mistakes repeatedly
- If an employee makes changes to the database a bot is using, it may be unable to continue working with it
- A bot can have trouble interacting with the updated software that it was designed to work with
- Changes to UI or web interface a bot was designed for can cause RPA malfunctions
- Expired or changed credentials can prevent a bot from performing its functions successfully (e.g., it won’t be able to access a database)
Bots undergo thorough testing before deployment to avoid these and many other RPA challenges. Among other things, QA specialists:
- Check the code for flaws and security vulnerabilities
- Simulate numerous circumstances under which a bot could operate, analyze its behaviors, and make necessary corrections
- Conduct user acceptance testing (UAT) to ensure a bot is working as intended and meets the end user’s requirements
In other words, myths about RPA are inaccurate in this regard. The technology alone does not prevent errors but a comprehensive QA strategy does.
4. RPA lets you automate everything
Companies often expect that robots will allow them to automate all tasks. However, what RPA myths don’t tell them is that:
- Mapping every business process requires much time
- Building and managing many bots can be expensive and overwhelming
- RPA applied to a wrong process can do more harm than good
That’s why candidate detection and prioritization are paramount for successful business process automation. So, what are the selection criteria?
Obviously, not all processes in your organization match these criteria, which alone proves that you cannot automate everything. And even if you could, would it be worth it?
Prioritization can provide a quick answer to this question. Consider the ratio between the process complexity and value. Naturally, it’s better to automate a simple process with high ROI first and gradually move up the “complexity – value” scale.
5. Automation is only suitable for simple tasks
This is one of the negative yet popular RPA myths. Indeed, in the very beginning, automation works better for simple flows. But as you build up your RPA initiative and complement it with advanced technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing, it will gradually turn into something even more valuable: intelligent process automation (IPA).
You can think of it as upskilling your digital workers. First, all they can do is follow the instructions you give them. But, as they get more data, analyze, and learn from it, they become capable of making informed, judgment-based decisions – pretty much like human employees do.
IPA lets you automate lengthy, complex processes in their entirety, to the extent that they require little to no human intervention.
If you’re considering adopting RPA at your enterprise, you should separate myths about RPA from the truth to approach automation with the right expectations. Implementing this technology requires an exceptional understanding of all your business processes, solid technical skills, and rigorous testing to ensure the bots’ accuracy. You won’t be able to automate everything and should not aim to. Automation is a valuable tool, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all your problems. And, of course, RPA myths about the human workforce becoming obsolete are not valid.
On the other hand, if you do everything right, you will eventually transform your RPA initiative into something bigger. We are talking about a convergence of intelligent automation solutions able to make human-like decisions and execute complex business processes with little to no human intervention. This is called IPA, and if you want to know how to deal with the most common RPA challenges and be successful, you can always contact us for a free consultation.