Disillusioned with RPA? When ‘robots’ don’t live up to expectations


By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software

Perhaps talk about ‘not living up to expectations’ might seem a cynical way to kick off a new year but the reality is fewer than 60% of people keep their new year’s resolutions past the first month, and fewer than 10% achieve their goals in the long run.

Unfortunately, for many traditional users of robotic process automation (RPA), it can be a similar story of good intentions and hopes quickly turning to disillusionment. Often these failures run contrary to the very benefits promised by desktop RPA – namely, to save time, save money and simplify processes.

Failure to save time

The key benefit of putting robots in charge of your intensive, repetitive processes is to save human work hours. But desktop RPA doesn't always deliver against this promise.

Redwood robots come pre-built with knowledge of thousands of process activities for virtually every scenario. In comparison, desktop based robotic tools need to be programmed meticulously. A laborious process that requires every step that a human would need to take to be replicated by software in a virtual environment.

But you only have to do it once though, right?! No. Instead, it’s an on-going process of tweaking robots every time any of the software packages make a UI change.

It’s a similar story if a robot needs to be repurposed for a new task, too. Dedicated technical teams need to start from scratch to recreate individual robots.

Failure to save money

Cost savings are the second benefit of capable automation solutions, both in comparison to the deployment and management of desktop RPA and also in the total cost of ownership.

Unfortunately, the additional complexity needed to deploy, maintain and repurpose traditional RPA robots means that cost savings aren’t as great as most organizations would like.

In essence, swapping large volumes of low-level human workers for a smaller number of more expensive technical staff – essential for managing desktop RPA solutions via complex ‘control towers’ to oversee groups of robots – prevents the capital saving ever being realized.

Moreover, replicating human activity in virtualized environments incurs significant software licensing costs for each package that a person would need to carry out for each task. Gartner pegged worldwide enterprise software licensing costs for 2018 at $381 billion, to which virtualized use cases significantly contribute.

Failure to simplify processes

A good robotics solution integrates with core systems in multiple ways to eliminate superfluous tasks, processes and required points of human interaction wherever possible. Traditional RPA rarely delivers this.

To achieve streamlined delivery of end-to-end processes requires full process visibility – desktop RPA often operates in silos of information with no overarching orchestration. The result is a non-optimized attempt at automation that doesn’t include baked-in audit and compliance tools, thereby adding another level of complexity to the management of desktop RPA.  

Failure to ignore the demo

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, don’t buy a robotics solution based on its performance in a best-case scenario demo.

In live production environments, when mission-critical processes rely on reliable delivery of accurate data, the complexity of desktop RPA frequently causes it to fall down. Adding more robots to this scenario simply increases the complexity and costs further, rather than achieving the intended goal of streamlining processes, as well as saving time and money.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Redwood offers a deeply integrated, and simple to manage, alternative to desktop-based RPA that delivers on the promise of robotics across the business.

Categories:   Automation   Robotics  

Get in touch with Redwood to find out more.

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