Two significant articles have been issued in recent weeks by McKinsey & Company and HfS Research, compiled in response to the increasing failure of RPA projects and the current market wisdom on RPA projects.

Hailed as the solution to implement revolutionary cost and time savings, organisations are now seeing the reality of projects which are not delivering on the RPA promises sold.  With industry analysts reviewing these projects we see an alternative reality emerging. In their post ‘Burned by the bots: Why robotic automation is stumbling’, McKinsey assert:

 “. . . in conversations with dozens of executives, it is clear that the first act in the ‘robotics evolution’ has not been a slam dunk for many, especially when companies try to scale the localized proofs of concept.”

Phil Fersht from HfS, in his post challenging the purported success of RPA entitled, ‘Gartner: 96% of customers are getting real value from RPA? Really?’  supports this stating:

 “ . . . only a handful are making real progress, while the majority lack a cohesive governance program to get this stuff working on even a few rudimentary processes.”

The article continues to reflect:

“This isn’t simply a case of buying software and looping broken processes together to remove manual efforts… this requires real buy-in from IT and operations leaders to invest in the technical, organizational change management, and process transformation skills.”

Deployment of RPA projects is also raising challenges, it is acknowledged that installation often takes longer and is more complex than anticipated. The new ‘bots’ are not self-sufficient and require care and attention in the form of maintenance, upgrades and the application of cybersecurity protocols. McKinsey consider the reality faced by organisations who  are progressing RPA projects,

“Many are quickly discovering they simply do not have the skills inhouse to set up automation centers of excellence and are frantically turning to third parties to help get them on the right track . . . they do not have the expertise to roll-out effective implementation and change management programs.”

Cultural resistance is another factor attributed to the failure of delivered projects. Fear of the rise of a robotic army, taking jobs and eliminating the need for a human workforce impacts on the adoption of projects.    

So what do McKinsey propose as the solution? Their advice can be concisely articulated as:

  • Define the required outcome having considered an end-to-end view.
  • Do not apply in isolation to other IT systems and applications
  • Understand the impact on existing infrastructures, systems and personnel. Empower staff to use bots to solve their problems
  •  Treat the bot as a tool in an automation toolkit as you remodel and automate your processes. 

This advice supports the Cortex Intelligent Automation philosophy.  The initial approach when considering ‘Automation’ projects is key. Clearly defining the project objectives ensures you can determine, and align the required outcomes to achieve this.  Having developed an Intelligent Automation Platform which provides users with a highly intuitive no code environment, Cortex also easily integrates with existing systems and infrastructures reducing the deployment timescales. Utilising the Cortex Intelligent Automation platform allows you to leverage existing investments in technology which can include RPA interfacing, and put your SMEs – Subject Matter Experts at the heart of your automation project.

With RPA continuing to be marketed and sold as a revolutionary solution, organisations need to consider their strategy and approach to achieve and deliver organisational transformation.