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Keeping the RPA Pilot on Course

Robotic process automation (RPA) technology is transformative – it makes it easy to automate repetitive, tedious tasks.

But while RPA has been around for a few years, not many organisations manage to make it beyond the pilot stage. So why is it that when the pilot programme ends, RPA projects so often crash into the ground?

We need to adopt new technology and thinking in order to take RPA from single pilot programmes to strategic adoption – and it’s called Service Orchestration.

Here are the three main reasons why so many RPA project fail to progress beyond the pilot stage:

1. Automation teams lack direction

The majority of RPA projects begin with an evaluation and diagnostic phase, where analysts and consultants will identify candidates for automation. This process usually takes several weeks.

Once a task candidate is identified, the automation can begin. It takes around six weeks until the automation delivers, and a further six weeks until the results are in. By this point, the automation team have usually moved on to focus on another diagnostic phase, but even then they struggle to establish whether they have found the best candidate for automation.

During each diagnostic phase, consultants check every possible task before moving on to the next island of value. How much more efficient would it be if you had a map that allowed you to see all the islands of value, and pointed you in the right direction from one to the next?

2. RPA is not a one-size-fits-all solution

Correctly programmed, RPA platforms make excellent task bots: they are exceptional at doing the same things over and over again. What they haven’t been designed to do, however, is manage an end-to-end service, this is what customers actually want to buy.

End-to-end services involve different kinds of bot, service delivery teams and customers. Engineers often make the mistake of trying to use RPA tools to manage workflow, scheduling and measurement across customers and employees – jobs that they simply aren’t suited for.

3. People are people, not robots

The majority of RPA diagnostics require staff to volunteer details about what they do to aid the automation. Although many people engage in the process as a one off, they may not want to do so on an on-going basis. We often see this problem in offshore teams in particular, where we have tried to turn employees into robots, and so the threat is felt more keenly.

So what’s the solution?

Service Orchestration (SO) technology fills the gaps left by RPA. With SO, you can create, manage and map out your entire automation journey. Deploying SO enables you to rapidly gain visibility and control of all the processes and tasks involved in service delivery.

It could take weeks to automate a single task or mini process with RPA, but SO can be deployed across tens of services at the same time. Once installed, SO platforms can deliver accurate data, highlight the best candidates for automation and establish the best business case for each.

SO platforms are also designed to manage activity between people and bots, to deliver a seamless, end-to-end service. Complete, end-to-end processes are executed though the orchestration platform by distributing tasks to people and instructing bots where required.

In short – service orchestration platforms control who (or what) is doing which task, where, when and why, in order to meet a customer’s requirements.

Read the original article on Information Age: Pilot fatigue: 3 reasons RPA programmes crash when the pilot drops off