The Risks of an RPA Implementation

Dietmar Gerlach 29. September 2020

Due to globalization, today´s companies  are subject to much higher competitive pressure than 10-15 years ago.

The reasons for this can be found, for example, in the disruptive business models of American high-tech groups or the rampant brand piracy caused by Asian market participants. In many cases, the aim is to become more innovative, but in many cases European products are generally good, but too expensive compared to competitors in the Far East. Added to this is the feeling that the dependencies of supply chains on Asian suppliers have become too great in recent years. On the other hand, it is often difficult to find suitable skilled workers in Europe. This situation leads to the decision to rethink value chains and to optimize processes where possible.

Once a company has identified a specific need for improvement, the do-nothing alternative is always the worst of all options and this is also where the greatest risk lurks, since no improvement will occur by itself.

It is now well known that the use of RPA technology is one way of relieving the company of simple, highly monotonous activities and thus increasing the availability potential for its own employees. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to jump on the automation bandwagon of manufacturers too quickly. The risk of approaching such an RPA implementation project too much from a technological perspective is too high. If, for example, the right process is not selected for automation, there is a risk that planned cost savings will not be realized. In this case, the company will quickly become disillusioned because the immature technology may be blamed for the failure.

This approach can be dangerous if it does not sufficiently address possible fears of the workforce. If the goals of the initiative are not communicated sufficiently into the company, the project is quickly equated with rationalization, which means job cuts. The support of an RPA project by a corresponding communication and change management initiative is crucial in this case. Additionally, it is not advisable to involve suppliers and customers in process changes too early and to make process errors visible to them, because for example delivery reliability could be affected.

To avoid such risks, CTI Consulting offers its customers a customized approach to identify the right processes with the greatest potential for automation.

The framework also offers a number of approaches to mitigate these risks, such as work packages for targeted communication or change management. Our experience is that risks can be minimized to a large extent by choosing the right measures. On this basis, it is possible to lead the RPA initiative to the desired success.