Robotic process automation (RPA) promises to speed up and automate financial processes while reducing errors and will be commonplace in finance departments by 2020, according to Gartner. But implementations are likely to encounter failures at three key stages: during planning, during the implementation and during testing.
Gartner's head of finance research, Johanna Robinson, said: “To deploy RPA successfully finance leaders must embrace a new mindset. Unless finance departments take a more agile approach when implementing RPA, they are likely to experience failures at each phase of implementation and won’t realize the full potential of the technology.”
During the planning stage, it's important to focus on automating a single activity, rather than trying to tackle an end-to-end process. Robinson said: “Finance departments can start relatively conservatively with RPA by focusing on using one bot against a number of individual activities.”
According to Gartner, this is because the code for one automated activity can then be applied more easily to other similar activities within the same or different processes. It says that companies can therefore benefit quickly from RPA, without investing a lot of time planning, standardising and implementing.
An RPA deployment shouldn't be approached in the same way as a traditional technology implementation, where a 'big bang' approach is often used. According to Gartner's Robinson, an incremental approach is better: “You don’t need to figure out every possible use case and requirement of an RPA solution before you begin. This will just result in spending more time and money than is really needed.”
According to Gartner, RPA leaders should determine and manage what support is needed from IT and vendors, rather than the other way around. It states: “Relying too much on IT teams and vendors to identify the issues and needs for deploying robots often causes failures in the testing stage.”
Robinson adds: “The benefits of successful RPA deployments within finance include a reduction in errors from manual work and a redeployment of full-time employees to higher value activities. But robots are only as good as the people who design and manage them. CFOs should start any RPA deployment by ensuring they understand the new agile mindset needed to implement the technology, with the right competencies in place to manage it.”
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