Have you heard about RPA Blues? Chances are no. Many organizations which have adopted RPA to automate their mundane repetitive tasks are struggling to achieve full business case benefits because they never envisaged the challenges they are facing as the number of processes/bots they need to manage goes up?
Whether using an internal RPA Center of Excellence, business unit staff members, or an outsourced service provider, enterprises are finding it challenging to support RPA bots effectively and efficiently. This results in greater-than-expected production support costs, threatening the companies’ efforts to achieve promised savings from automation. This challenges the companies’ efforts to reach an optimal scale of automation.
Some organizations are adding more humans to manage the ever-growing bot population while others are trying to find a technical solution – including the automation of automation management.
Adding more people contradicts the entire thesis of automation and companies’ commitments to digital transformation and is not a good long-term solution.
1. Scarcity of Skilled Resources
RPA is a niche space and despite it being offered as an ‘off-the-shelf solution’, companies still need smart skilled certified development resources who can configure the process steps on the RPA platform. You also need Business Analysts or Process Experts who will help architect how the bots will work together and synchronize together to deliver the right process output. Then you need experienced resources to monitor and maintain the bots. This is where an RPA Support expert comes into the picture. Their primary job is to identify if and why a bot is not working, do the root cause analysis, fix the issue, and get the bot up and running – in the least amount of time and with minimal business impact.
2. Attrition & Unattractiveness – Support Roles
High demand for IT Talent and supply-side challenges are affecting everyone, and most organizations struggle to find and retain people across the technology Build, Manage and Run cycle. Companies with operations around the world, and especially in India, are seeing increasing employee turnover, with skilled resources changing organizations for the promise of (slightly) higher wages, better hours, and greater opportunities. Companies keep adjusting staffing through cross-training, creating shared pools, etc., and managing expectations since skilled people prefer more enriching development roles and shy away from maintenance and support roles, which typically run 24×7 and hence are least preferred.
3. Dynamic Changes in Operating Environment
Since bots can operate across business units and without traditional IT oversight, changes in the environment are not always communicated to all the people responsible for bot operations. Be it hardware, software, or IT Infrastructure, even a minute change anywhere can stall the bot operations. It can happen when a patch update happens on the device, or a configuration is tweaked on the cloud, or a developer makes changes to do a bug fix or to update the security layer. Since the bots can not adapt to changes on their own, the changes often cause the bots to fail.
4. Multiple RPA Providers
Companies are more frequently using different RPA platforms (e.g., UiPath for Finance and Accounting, Automation Anywhere for Operations, and so on) which further adds to operational complexity – platform diversity implies different skill set requirements for the support teams. Since bots operate with multiple dependencies (applications, devices, networks, infrastructure), repairing a bot will require specialized platform skills. With multiple providers, there will be the need for more and better-trained resources.
5. Human Omissions
Another factor that is completely unpredictable – is human lapses. People not following laid down protocols, change management process or hand-off or accidental issues, which can bring down the bot operations.
RPA Management Solution
While adding resources might be a solution to the challenge of bot management, in today’s business climate, this is not a viable long-term solution, especially for companies whose digital workforces are growing.
An answer to this is an automated RPA Management (RPAM) solution. RPAM observes the inter-dependencies between the bots and the applications, devices, and networks they interact with, and identifies failures due to software upgrades, container re-distributing, and other site-specific (hybrid, on-premises, or cloud) variations. Orchestrators only understand their bot(s) and don’t know about the environment that the bots are running in and thus, can’t impact anything other than the bots and their hosts/bot runners. A “good” RPA management solution should be integrated with Orchestrator to enable the solution to stop, start, or restart the bots. RPAM with proactive reporting and appropriate alerts, engages high-value human resources only when needed and therefore results in:
- Reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by as much as 30%,
- Efficiency and lower human engagement – eliminates the need for “eyes on the glass” monitoring (which some companies do 24×7)
- Automatic notification of events, faults, and failures (reducing manual efforts and delays due to poor manual monitoring) – improved service levels and reduced MTTR (Mean time to Restore)
- Pinpoint the location of failures and accelerate troubleshooting – reducing the “downtime” due to the inability of resources to discover the cause of failures – better customer satisfaction
- Proactive remediation – reduced cycle time for restoration of broken bots
With a more automated process, bot management becomes supercritical, and you need to look for a solution that helps reduce reliance on human elements. Intelligent and automated bot support is an effective solution to reduce the life-cycle cost of RPA ownership. An RPA management (RPAM) environment effectively and efficiently manages the complexity of large-scale bot deployments by monitoring, measuring, and maintaining bots, while proactively remediating failures.
About the author-
Atul Kulshreshtha: Atul is an ITES industry veteran, entrepreneur, investor, mentor, and strategic advisor. He is the founder of GroByz Partners and helps new age business tech and Startup companies on business strategy, digital enablement, adoption, growth, and go-to-market. He is associated with ChoiceWORX, Ascent Business Technologies and Agility Ventures (an angel investment platform) in advisory/consulting roles.