Adopting Robotic Process Automation: Change Management and Communications Can Spell Failure

A study by consultant Everest Group confirms what many CFOs have come to suspect: Adopting Robotic Process Automation (RPA) sounds straightforward, but it can be a complicated and challenging exercise.

In Enterprise Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Adoption | Pinnacle Model™ Analysis, a 98-page report that is sold for US$4,999, Everest interviewed 52 companies that have deployed RPA in their processes. “The study participants’ experiences reveal that, in theory, RPA is simple but, in practice, it’s difficult,” report the authors.

At the outset, executives believe RPA is an easy way to automate tasks and thus increase productivity, notes the report. They soon came to realize that “RPA is a digital transformation journey, and there are complications when trying to unleash digital transformation,” says Everest.

The RPA technology itself is actually simple. It’s driving the change that is difficult

Simple technology                                                                

The deployment involves more than just configuring robots, says the report. “It requires process redesign, navigating the different stakeholders that have purview (security, IT, audit compliance, etc.), and navigating the business unit with the problem.”

And often, it adds, “the opportunities and problems span multiple business units, which requires coordinating and focus on multiple units and departments.”

The technology itself is actually simple. It’s driving the change that is difficult. “We found significant frustration among the executives sponsoring RPA adoption,” reports Everest. They struggled to communicate with the board of directors and the business units the need for adequate investment and for support resources.

The RPA sponsors also faltered in communicating the amount of change that is required to capture the value of RPA. “The depth of the change and the extent of the investment are difficult for executives to convey to their organizations and their boards,” says the report.

Best practice

To overcome this, companies are establishing RPA Centers of Excellence, reports Everest. Getting IT involved early in the adoption effort is another best practice, along with aligning the mindsets of the numerous stakeholders and coordinating their efforts in driving change.

The companies in the study that made the commitment to RPA, invested in the required resources, and adopted best practice steps achieved four times greater ROI than those that did not, reports Everest.