Lack of process understanding is main reason for RPA flops

How to avoid RPA flops and how to get a better process understanding through process mining?

Understanding business processes is more important than ever for their efficient functioning, especially in times of crisis. A look at the use of innovative technologies, such as process mining, provides insights into the added value they contribute to improving processes. And it also reveals where organizations set priorities in this process, where they see challenges, and what the benefits are.

In many companies, processes do not run as originally intended. You can compare this with the sidewalks or trails that you find in public parks, for example. Now and then, people like to use these instead of the officially designated path – to take a shortcut or because it’s more pleasant to walk on soft grass than on asphalt. It’s much the same with corporate processes. Managers are not always aware that defined processes are often not run through exactly according to the defined steps. Even though in Germany in particular the rules are generally followed, there are always exceptions where employees deviate from predefined processes, either because they are too complex or need to be adapted for the customer.

According to a study, more than half of companies in Germany are already using technology to understand exactly how their business processes are executed. They are now increasingly aware of the added value of process mining. Another quarter of the decision makers surveyed said they plan to use process mining technologies in the future. However, according to the study, Germany is still bringing up the rear in an international comparison when it comes to the use of innovative technologies such as these. This is a sad result in view of the fact that understanding business processes is considered the primary success factor for automation projects in companies. This is because process mining technologies are able to analyze how processes work as well as how they behave. As a result, companies gain deeper insights to improve their processes. In addition, another business benefit is that process mining technologies provide real-time information about the performance of processes and issue alerts when process rules are not being followed. They also help to fix problems automatically.

Companies see RPA as a business accelerator

It is also becoming apparent that robotic process automation (RPA) is being used more and more frequently in companies. Almost two-thirds of companies in Germany are already using RPA or plan to do so in the next 12 months. Decision-makers see RPA not only as a means for simple, administrative tasks, but are increasingly recognizing the value that RPA contributes to improving even business-critical functions. These include, in particular, improving the customer experience, as well as in IT service management and financial planning. Business leaders are also turning to RPA integrations for increasingly complicated enterprise use cases, which requires much smarter complementary technologies to successfully execute the projects.

The fact is that a strong understanding of business processes is essential for automation initiatives. This is also underlined by previous empirical data from processes that have already been automated. It has been shown that a comprehensive understanding of those processes that have been automated at their company have formed the primary success factor for the implementation of RPA initiatives.

How do RPA flops occur? – Understanding processes

But what about the reverse? What causes RPA projects to fail? For example, an RPA flop could be an automated process that ends up requiring a higher level of human intervention than originally planned – the very purpose of robotic automation is to prevent people from being saddled with mindless routine tasks, such as correcting process steps that go wrong. So to avoid such a flop, it is first and foremost important that companies get sufficient support from their RPA vendor. If this is lacking, RPA success is no guarantee. Another reason for failures when using RPA are both very complex and enormously variable processes. This, of course, makes automation more difficult. In addition, some companies admit that outside advice, which companies like to bring in, proves less helpful than desired.

This makes it all the more important that companies do not start blindly on the digital transformation journey and only start where automation initiatives will also lead to success, in order to avoid disappointment. This means that, as a first step, they must understand how processes work and which processes can be automated at all. With innovative process mining technologies, companies can identify business process automation potential and prioritize those with the highest ROI potential. Process intelligence tools are indispensable for providing companies with an accurate real-time overview of their processes and showing which ones are working smoothly and, more importantly, which ones are just not working properly and creating bottlenecks. Only with the necessary level of process knowledge will automation initiatives be successful. Process technologies are thus becoming a must, as they can effectively drive digital transformation in German companies.

    Markus Pichler ist Vice President of Sales Europe und verantwortlich für die Entwicklung von Lösungsstrategien für den direkten und indirekten Vertrieb bei ABBYY. Markus verfügt über mehr als 20 Jahre Erfahrung in der Softwarebranche mit Fokus auf ECM, Informationserfassungs- sowie Daten- und Dokumentenmanagementprojekten. Er ist Experte auf dem Gebiet der Digitalen Transformation und bei der Analyse und Automatisierung traditioneller Geschäftsprozesse mithilfe KI-basierter Technologien.

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