During 2017, we saw headlines of RPA projects failing by 30 – 50% and a good insight by HfS Research & Hexaware Technologies (The State of Automation & AI) showing some of the probable causes.
My own experience is based on conversations with COOs on their RPA strategy and I am invariably greeted with ‘Yes, we have that under control and everything is going on well’.
My next question goes along the line of ‘So your operational budgets must have reduced significantly’ which causes a pregnant silence followed by
‘… Well, no it has probably gone up … but it’s not that simple’.
Following this, we invariably have a long discussion and end up with these major learning points on how to get to realizing value quickly.
1) Analysis Paralysis
By all means get the right consultants in, to help with the governance of process automation strategy and decide on the processes with the best cost contribution. But it is crucial to implement these quickly to get momentum behind your strategy and realise benefits.
2) Cost, Cost, Cost
Remember why you are doing this … to significantly reduce costs! It doesn’t make a lot of sense to reduce a 25k per year role by spending 100s of thousands on consultants to implement the solution. Especially not the consultants who have designed the strategy with you – given the conflict of interest.
3) Change Agenda
Don’t underestimate the barriers to change. Instead why not start with an area that has already been through that pain – your outsourced activities.
4) Outsource providers
Outsourcing providers have a major role to play however it’s like ‘Turkeys voting for Christmas’ their revenues are going to reduce markedly.
The answer is for you to introduce a timely reminder of who is in charge. There are organisations who are experts in RPA, and would be willing to automate a part of an outsourced area and deliver savings right from Day 1 because they are confident in delivering automation and the benefits. The outsourced area does not have to be large, but it will serve as a necessary impetus to the incumbent outsourcer to cannibalise their revenue or risk losing All their business.
Despite this, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Clients do want to work with their incumbent suppliers who they have built up a lot of experience over the years. It’s good to see that a few outsourcing providers have reduced some hiring to acknowledge the digital agenda and the effect on their revenues, so we may see some change this year.