By Mark Bednarz, Partner, PKF O’Connor Davies On Jun 11, 2020
While some fear automation, in reality a better future awaits with the implementation of robots. As more organizations are discovering, Robotics Process Automation (RPA) uses software “robots” or “bots” to create operational efficiencies and cost reduction opportunities by automating routine tasks that free employees to focus on higher priority assignments. Yet these benefits can only be achieved if RPA is correctly employed. Without proper implementation, robotics can be a risk.
Addressing these seven factors beforehand is key to proper robotics implementation and enables organizations to introduce RPA successfully and benefit from mitigating risk, meeting business requirements and achieving key performance indicators (KPIs).
Look Before Leaping. Organizations are enticed by the efficiency and cost benefits of robotics and often jump into implementation before undertaking essential upfront planning and evaluation. Without a feasibility assessment, organizations can miss the mark as they will not have accurately determined the central processes on which to focus.
Vendor Walk-the-walk. Executing a strong vendor agreement enables organizations to define responsibilities, including activity monitoring, upgrades and employee training. It outlines how tasks will be performed, brings clarity to timelines and defines RPA project requirements.
Bots Can Be Hacked Too. In the same manner that cyberattacks can damage organizational assets, weak cybersecurity programs can damage the RPA process. A robust cybersecurity program should be devised which would include risk assessment, PIN testing, “privacy by design,” and privileged user access.
Definition That Won’t Spell Disaster. Having a defined System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process is essential to establishing proper approvals and appropriate testing prior to RPA implementation. Conversely, not establishing a SDLC can lead to unintended consequences.
Share the Power. While work-life balance improvements and a positive shift in responsibilities may be welcome changes, the more important key to successful RPA implementation is transparency with employees who may be impacted.
Control Past and Present. Controls may need to be revised as RPA results in policy and procedural modifications. Organizations should evaluate the necessity and application of new controls and also determine the obsolescence of prior controls. To arrive at the proper control menu, it is essential to begin with an evaluation of the organization’s risks: fraud, reputation, IT, and operational failure.
Compliance Rules the Day. Regulatory risks are always a business consideration, and it’s no different when introducing robotics. Neglecting to build compliance processes into the development of an organization’s RPA can result in failing to meet certain business requirements and KPIs.
Groundwork Pays Off
In contrast to eliminating processes or people, effective RPA implementation increases efficiency through robotic automation. Repetitive tasks are automated so employees have an increased capacity to focus on value-added activities. Incomplete information, ambiguous frameworks, and fraud that may be associated with manual data entry is mitigated through proper RPA implementation. RPA benefits, however, can only be achieved by addressing the key factors for proper implementation.