Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is being widely used by organizations in order to offload routine and repetitive tasks from employee to software bots. Though RPA is seeing widespread adoption in business verticals like Banking, Human Resources, IT, Resource Procurement, etc.; there are certain myths about RPA that needs to be debunked. Many organizations are ready to accept automation & RPA but are unable to take the decision to deploy RPA due to these myths. In this article, we have a look at the top nine myths about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
1.Physical Robots are involved in the ‘automation’
- As RPA means Robotic Process Automation, it gives an indication that hardware robots are involved in the automation process. However, that understanding is completely wrong as there are no humanoid robots involved in RPA. On the other hand, RPA involves ‘software robots’ that are deployed on computers within the organization where you want the automation to be performed. RPA software consists of algorithms written/coded by RPA developers that are intended to automate mundane tasks. These tasks are labor intensive and have to be executed in a linear fashion; hence they are ideal to be executed by RPA robots.
- Let’s consider an example about ‘Processing Loan application of a customer’ – The customer submits varieties of documents that outline his employment status, salary details, credit score, details about other loans, etc. In a nutshell, there is a significant amount of paperwork that is submitted by the customer to the loan officer. In order to verify these documents, the loan officer would take a significant amount of time and since the process is manual, there are chances of an error being performed on behalf of the loan officer. Due to some error, if the loan officer rejects the loan application, it would result in loss of business. The customer might share his experience on social media channels which might cause significant damage to the brand image of the bank. The ideal way to avoid such kind of mishaps is by deploying RPA in banking systems.
2.RPA would take away the jobs of humans (as it involves automation)
- When someone mentions about ‘automation’, the first thought that comes to mind is cost-cutting and job-cuts. The same misconception also holds true when there is a discussion on RPA. There are a number of frontline jobs in any organization that deals with data entry, customer support, IT, etc. and most of these jobs are ‘repetitive’ in nature and involve a number of business processes.
- Take the case of a business development executive, along with pitching clients for business prospects; an executive working in ‘Business Development’ & ‘Sales’ department would also be involved in updating sales software, sending status reports to the management team, etc. These jobs could hamper their productivity since that is not their core-skills and they might be spending a significant amount of effort in compiling & sending reports.
- As far as the discussion about losing jobs to RPA is concerned, RPA will only replace humans in frontline jobs that are of linear approach and require less/no intelligence to complete the jobs. To cite some examples, RPA can be instrumental in automating invoice generation, customer service, validating the authenticity of forms [loan processing, account opening, etc.].
3.RPA is only about Automation & cost-cutting
- How would you feel if you have to perform the same nature of the job in your office for your entire life? We are sure that you would be having a disgruntled feeling even when you imagine such a scenario. Cost-cutting is definitely attributed to automation, but that is definitely not one of the driving factors why organizations opt for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Deployment of an RPA solution has a significant amount of impact on accelerating process-driven tasks, freeing up resources to take challenging roles, reduction of risks in business operations, achieving 100% error-free & business compliance across various departments (where RPA is deployed), etc.
4.RPA is not scalable and secure
- RPA solutions are ideal for automating repetitive tasks across sectors that involve technology and hence their usage is not limited to any particular domain. RPA is already gaining widespread adoption in the fields of banking, finance, retail, insurance, etc. hence; the virtual worker has access to huge amount of data about employees, vendors, clients, etc. To top it all, it also has access to confidential information like passwords, credit card numbers, inventory lists, etc.
- RPA solutions have a role-based security mechanism to address the problem of ‘Data Security’. It segregates the access to data based on the role that is assigned to a member in the RPA team (Member is a person with whose credentials the RPA Bot would be executed). This hierarchical approach ensures that members have ‘access to information’ according to the roles assigned to them. For example, a user having limited access rights would not be in a position to access critical information and if a fraudulent attempt is made, that activity is captured in the logs. So, how does one assign roles in an RPA system? The solution is Active Directory Integration where the centralizing team (similar to a Superuser in Linux) can assign roles to team members. This ‘role-based approach’ helps in tracking fraudulent activities in the system. Along with security, Active Directory Integration also enhances business efficiency. These two approaches are used to minimize security threats within the organization.
5.Need to have programming knowledge or specialized skills to handle the RPA system
- This can be considered as one of the biggest myths about RPA. Sure, RPA is a tech-based solution to automate ‘mundane tasks’, but it does require minimal user intervention to initiate the execution of those tasks. Once the team members are trained on using the RPA solution, they have to just follow the necessary steps to ensure that the RPA bots perform their job.
- Your team members who are handling the RPA solution need not have any ‘programming skills’, though it is suggested to assign people with an inclination towards ‘scripting languages’ for critical RPA modules. These members can be instrumental in training other team members as they have flair for programming.
6. IT infrastructure cost is more to deploy RPA
- Depending on the scale at which RPA solution is deployed, there would be initial implementation & deployment costs to keep the RPA solutions up & running. This can be setting up virtual machines where the jobs are executed or procuring a new IT infrastructure to get the best of RPA.
- Though there are costs involved in setting up the IT infrastructure for the purpose of RPA, it is comparably low when compared to the costs for enterprise software implementation. It is a myth that setting up IT infrastructure for RPA solution is costly and this is proven when organizations have a look at the Return On Investment (ROI) involved in RPA deployment & implementation.
7.RPA is only used to digitize your processes
- As we have mentioned earlier, RPA based bots can be used with high efficiency when it is applied to automate jobs that are based on certain rules and require minimal/no human intervention. Though RPA bots have features like Optical Character Recognition, Handwriting Recognition, etc.; they have the capability to interact with backend systems like Databases, ERP systems.
- Majority of these tasks are related to data entry, data extraction, and data updation. Hence, RPA solutions go well beyond the digitization of processes and there would be more promising usecases in case RPA is able to handle unstructured activities.
8.Implementation of RPA will disturb existing IT systems
- Though the IT department is involved in setting up the infrastructure required to execute the RPA solution, they do not perform the job in a silo. They interact with multiple departments, particularly the business units since RPA has a positive impact on the business operations of the organization. In order to adhere to the highest level of security, IT team assigns specific members for different RPA roles based on their experience & expertise.
- RPA implementation follow a ‘light structure’ hence RPA bots are also suited for organizations that have distributed or legacy IT systems. Many organizations still follow old rules for IT operations and they are hesitant to change those rules due to high cost and operational impact associated with the change. Most of the use cases where RPA is applicable, the RPA bots co-work with different software modules (for ERP, database, report generation, etc.) hence, RPA bots work efficiently even when they have communicate with different IT systems. Whether your organization follows an age-old legacy IT principles or whether it has a robust IT infrastructure; RPA works perfectly fine in both the scenarios.