Despite Setbacks in RPA Implementation, Organizations Find an Exit Door
from Analytics Insight
April 28, 2021
In recent years, robotic process automation (RPA) has been widely adopted and implemented by companies around the world, causing a seismic change in the workplace. Given RPA’s promise to increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer experiences, it should come as no surprise that so many companies have quickly jumped on the automation bandwagon.
Unfortunately, growing pains and disappointed expectations are commonplace. A recent report from EY estimates that up to half of all automation initiatives have failed to meet their goals due to a cycle of seemingly constant RPA pauses, downtime, and labor-intensive maintenance and support.
In response to these challenges, RPA companies and industry insiders alike have begun calling for a standard way to describe each process being automated in a way that they can understand all of the automation tools. Standardization would directly address the fact that currently all RPA platforms and the complementary tools that occupy various points along the automation value chain (such as process discovery, process / task mining and iBPMN tools) describe and specify the details of process automation differently. A common means of specifying this would not only dramatically improve interoperability, but would also help RPA users get the maximum benefit from their automation efforts and scale them across the enterprise.
The consequences of not having a standard for the specification of process automation can be felt in all areas, from stalled automation pipelines to supplier loyalty. For example, take a look at Process Discovery Tools, a key component of any automation tool chain. Process discovery providers mark currently discovered processes in proprietary formats. Before these processes can ever run on an RPA target platform, a significant amount of effort is required on the part of the user to manually transcribe them, which is both time and labor intensive. It can also lead to errors in the transcription process that require costly pre-deployment rework, slow implementation, and undercut expected productivity gains.
Because each major RPA vendor has their own proprietary approach to describing automation, the ability to open, read, and edit automation project files is currently limited to the automation platform a company is using. This makes it nearly impossible for a user to switch RPA providers without restarting the entire automation process by rebuilding each bot, which is costly and time consuming. Hence, a user who is dissatisfied with the performance of their RPA provider or has identified a preferred platform option has no choice but to stick with their current provider.
This situation could get worse if an RPA provider goes out of business. Without universal industrial design standards, it would mean that any RPA program using this vendor’s software would have to build their entire automation portfolio from scratch, regardless of how much time or money it costs.
To better understand what can be achieved by adopting a range of RPA design standards to drive interoperability, portability, and customer success growth, PDF (or Portable Document Format) provides a good example. When Adobe published the PDF as an open standard, the possibility of saving it in any word processor and opening it in countless other tools opened up a previously unattainable form collaboration and paved the way for the paperless office and digital transformation in companies everywhere.
There’s no reason the RPA market can’t reach this level. Establishing a generally accepted automation design standard can combine similarities in a portable automation format that is understandable to everyone, regardless of the RPA provider.
In particular, a number of established RPA standards would allow users to design their automated processes once, run them on any automation platform, and easily migrate digital workforces from one platform to another. This way, users don’t have to worry about being tied to a provider they are dissatisfied with. And should a vendor go out of business, the user is no longer forced to start the entire automation process from scratch. As long as the user is happy with their currently deployed RPA ecosystem, a new provider can simply pick up where the previous provider left off.
Since it would not be necessary to understand the technical details of an automation platform, established RPA design standards would also separate the automation design from the implementation. All of this will allow users to accelerate their digital transformation and assign their human workers to more meaningful tasks.
While great strides have been made in unlocking the true potential of RPA, a universal set of design standards that create a common automation format could take the market to the next level. Well-defined standards would make compatibility, interoperability, and portability an integral part of any RPA deployment. More importantly, establishing a number of design standards that are so badly lacking in the RPA landscape will increase user efficiency and achieve the ROI originally expected.
Tony Higgins is the Chief Product Officer at Blueprint Software Systems, responsible for the vision and development of Blueprint’s Enterprise Automation Suite, a powerful digital process design and management solution that enables organizations to quickly identify, design and develop high value automation manage and manage precision to scale the scope and impact of their RPA initiatives. Tony has extensive knowledge and experience in software delivery ranging from startups to global corporations and is passionate about developing technologies that help teams quickly optimize, automate, and digitally transform their organizations Further information can be found at https: // www.blueprintsys.com/
Posted by Tony Higgins
Chief Product Officer, Blueprint Software Systems
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