The impact of Covid-19 on RPA implementation and deployment

As companies around the world adjust to a “new normal” in terms of how they run their business, they must reevaluate the path for their brands and products in their marketplaces. PEX Network spoke to Rinat Malik, former RPA implementation specialist at BMW Financial Services, before RPA & Intelligent Automation Live June 22-25, 2020 about the effects of Covid-19 on RPA projects, Malik’s golden rule for implementation and how He believes RPA will evolve over the next few years.

PEX Network: How Has Covid-19 Affected The Implementation And Deployment Of RPA In Organizations?

Rinat Malik: What I’ve heard from my network and former colleagues is that the expansion of robotics has slowed down Since most organizations wait for this time to pass, they are re-evaluating the way forward. This is expected because RPA, as a cutting edge technology, carries risks.

While companies are keen to save money and increase efficiency, they are always careful about freeing up the budget for something new. They need to do their cost-benefit analysis and in this unprecedented time it is difficult to predict their own budget and what will be left for them after their business has declined.

It is interesting that all robots that were implemented before Covid-19 work perfectly and do not have the same limitations as humans. Immune to coronavirus, these robots are all working 24/7 to create value for businesses and save money. I’ve spoken to my previous colleagues on all of my previous engagements, and the robots I’ve implemented and delivered work quite well, even though people have had to self-isolate or take their time due to illness.

When things return to normal, organizations will very quickly see the general benefits of implementing robotics and take serious action to expand their RPA implementation. Within a month or two after the lockdown ends, the RPA will skyrocket.

What tips would you give someone who wants to restart their RPA projects after being locked?

RM: I have three pieces of advice for post locking RPA implementations.

First, based on the experience we had during the lockdown, companies may automatically tend to “unattended robots” as they are interested in disconnecting people from the process. In my opinion, however, “Attended Robots” are still just as useful as they are designed to improve human performance. Everything that a human does while working remotely can still benefit from a supervised robot improving its performance. I would advise not to completely delete the implementation of visited robots, but rather recalculate the bespoke business needs for your own organization and create a bespoke distribution of visited and unattended robots.

Second, I have always placed particular emphasis on the need to monitor the performance of a robot in real time and design it so that it works transparently and reports when it needs to shut down due to an error. Due to the blockage, the important thing has now become even clearer. The company should always be aware of the progress and performance of each robot in real time so that it has insights that can adjust / improve everything remotely. RPA providers usually offer several types of monitoring, but this need is often ignored.

Third, based on my second point, robots and all associated IT systems should have a very detailed logging mechanism for automated error handling and troubleshooting. If a robot fails because of its own code or because of the IT infrastructure, the support team should be able to identify the problem quickly, easily and remotely, and resolve the problem remotely. The importance of these factors has become more visible due to the lockdown as everyone worked remotely and it was difficult to have access to support the robots.

PEX network: Before Covid-19 came and disrupting industries all over the worldHow has RPA evolved?

RM: In general, pre-Covid-19 RPA deployments were a mixed bag, as evidenced by my experience at UBS, BP, a city council in England, and a number of clients I’ve worked with in legal and human resources. These organizations varied widely in terms of size, implementation, budget, and the way in which they wanted to implement RPA. What they all had in common, however, was that they all wanted to know something about the power of robotics.

It is very important that you remain careful in the practical implementation. RPA needs to be a bespoke implementation because every organization is different and these differences need to be taken into account.

PEX Network: Why do some RPA projects fail based on your previous experience?

RM: There are a number of parties involved in RPA projects that are involved in implementation such as: B. IT, BPM or the department for process excellence. One of the main reasons RPA projects fail is a lack of responsibility. Everyone should be clear about their responsibilities as a department so that there is no risk of conflict when they know who has to do what or which resources have to be commissioned at what time. Another important factor is to establish clearly defined, measurable success criteria at the beginning of the project so that the project does not deviate from its overall goal in the face of various obstacles in its path.

Communication, the responsibility matrix (or project RACI), and setting a clear end goal at the start are three things that RPA implementation projects make or break.

PEX Network: What do you think is the golden rule for RPA implementation?

RM: One of the very important phases of RPA implementation is the opportunity assessment / process discovery phase to determine which process is ideal for automation. This can be done single-handedly do it or break it.

The initial processes should be carefully selected by an experienced business analyst who is responsible for determining the success criteria and the objectives to be achieved in mapping the process. This should be done in collaboration with a technical expert on RPA or an RPA specialist at a very detailed level. Both should work together and understand that they are choosing the right processes from the start.

“When things get back to normal, companies will see the general benefit of implementing robotics very quickly.”

PEX Network: What do you expect in the RPA area in the next few years?

RM: RPA is very emerging right now and many companies are already seeing the benefits. Over the next 12 months there will be more and more adjustments and an increase in successful implementations. This includes those organizations that saw no potential return on investment in the technology the first time and will be part of a second wave of implementations. There will be more successful scenarios and stories about how companies have benefited from it.

Within two or three years, RPA will normalize, after which we will see machine learning and AI-assisted RPA solutions. While we already have these, the technology is currently still in its infancy. It is very powerful, but has yet to be implemented in such a way that it interacts very well with the old IT.

April 10, 2021