RPA: Are We There Yet?

Nope. Not even close. And a recent Hackett study proves it.

Earlier this month, The Hackett Group released a point of view on Robotic Process Automation: A Reality Check and a Route Forward where they noted that while early initiatives have produced some tangible successes, many organizations have yet to scale their use of RPA to a level that is making a major impact on performance, likely because RPA has come with a greater-than-expected learning curve.

Right now, mainstream adoption of RPA is 3% in Finance, 3% in HR, 7% in Procurement, and 10% in GBS – Global Business Services. Experimentation (referred to as limited adoption) is higher, 6% in HR, 18% in Finance, 18% in Procurement, and 29% in GBS, but not that high, especially considering the high learning curve for the average organization will end up with a number of these not continuing the experiment.

Due to the large amount of interest, Hackett is predicting that, within 3 years, RPA will be mainstream in 11% of HR Organizations, a 4X increase, 30% of Procurement, a 4X increase, 38% of Finance, a 12X increase, and 52% in GBS, a 5X increase, as well as increases in experimentation. Experimentation will definitely increase due to the hotness of the topic, but mainstream adoption will require success, and as Hackett deftly notes, successful deployment requirements have certain key prerequisites too:

  • digital inputs
  • structured data
  • clear logical rules can be applied

And when the conditions are right, organizations:

  • realize operational cost benefits
  • have less errors and more consistent rule application
  • benefit from increased productivity
  • are able to refocus talent on higher-value work
  • strengthen auditability for key tasks
  • have enhanced task execution data to analyze and improve processes

But this is not enough for success. Hackett prescribes three criteria for success, which they define as:

  • selecting the right RPA opportunities
  • planning the journey
  • building an RPA team or COE

and you’ll have to check out Robotic Process Automation: A Reality Check and a Route Forward for more details, but is this enough?

Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how good of an RPA team is built, and how good they are at identifying appropriate use cases for RPA, and how good they are at the successful implementation. Success breeds success, but failure eliminates the option of continued use of RPA, at least until a management changeover.