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July 17, 2019

5 Ways Your RPA Implementation Can Fail (and How to Avoid Them)

Intelligent Automation
3 Minute Read

BlackLine Magazine

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myths of robotic process automation (RPA), listened to a webinar, talked to a specialist, and now you think you’re ready to advise your company on how to bring robotics to your Finance Department.

Unfortunately, despite your best attempts, your implementation has a 30-50% chance of failing according to a 2016 report by EY.

How have so many RPA implementations gone wrong? Here are five main causes for why others have failed and advice for how you can avoid those failures yourself.

Your Bots Don’t Scale

It’s truly amazing to see a global organization’s finance department perform their financial processes with robotic process automation. However, to get to that stage, you need to have scalable RPA. That’s not an easy feat given the various tasks and local requirements of SSCs spread across the world.

To gain real value from RPA, you need to apply it across your finance department, and in a timely and cost-efficient manner so your project doesn’t lose momentum.

According to McKinsey, trying to scale localized proof of concepts has been one of the largest issues for companies trying to implement RPA. Make sure your RPA solution provider can appropriately scale before you invest.

Your RPA Is IT-Dependent

Robotizing your close-to-disclose seems incredibly IT focused, so there must be a lot of coding and IT- dependency there, right?

Not necessarily. In fact, the less IT is involved, the better.

A good rule of thumb is that the department that owns the process should also be the one owning the solution and owning the changes to that solution. It keeps things simpler, cleaner, and faster. Finance cannot depend on IT for RPA; it needs to be owned by the business side.

Unfortunately, some solutions out there not only demand extensive IT support but also require thousands of bots, which means additional architecture to your system, bespoke governance, and oversight by IT. Make sure the RPA you invest in can run IT-independent.

You Have No Internal Support

It can be a struggle to get the internal support for an RPA transformation, especially when accountants worry that a bot revolution could eventually displace them.

To have a successful RPA implementation, it’s essential to understand the processes of the close-to-disclose, and for that, you need support from every level of your Finance Department. And the truth is, RPA isn’t about replacing humans.

To a certain extent, you can replace humans with robots, but that isn’t how you achieve the highest value of RPA. It’s important that all levels of your Finance Department understand that.

You’re Faced With Miscalculated ROIs

There are some fantastic ROI opportunities with RPA, but it’s important to keep two things in mind.

First, robotizing 75% of tasks doesn’t necessarily translate into 75% savings. The tasks that are robotized are non-value add tasks, and while there are incredible benefits in freeing up workers to focus on value-adding activities, that isn’t necessarily resulting in a reduction of FTE or equivalent savings.

Second, RPA initiatives are too often focused on short-term ROIs. There is more to automate than just the low hanging fruit.

While it’s always nice to see immediate returns with RPA’s quick wins, the long-term ROI hold the real value. Make sure the solution you choose can deliver on both short-term and long-term ROI so you can get the results you’re expecting.

Misunderstood Bots

The market is flooded with robotic process automation vendors and all are claiming to deliver you the best. To be successful, it’s crucial to know what you need before you start shopping the market.

Do you want to robotize a small segment of your processes? Do you want scalable RPA? Do you just want a screen scraping tool or are you looking for the real deal? When you know what you’re looking for, you can ask vendors the right questions and ensure that you’re going to get value—in the long and short-term—from the software you choose to implement.

Many executives have started to question the value of robotic process automation after struggling with the first attempt at implementation. However, RPA is not to blame.

It’s incredibly important to understand the RPA solutions various vendors are offering and how those solutions would impact your company, now and in the future.

By knowing the main reasons that RPA implementations fail, you can save yourself and your company from some painful—and expensive—mistakes.

Read this white paper to learn more about how RPA is changing Accounting and Finance, and the role you can play in this new landscape.

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