Robotics process automation can speed processes, improve quality, make customers happier and free up employees — but only if you prioritize support and maintenance.
Implementing bots and robotics process automation (RPA) can be an exciting way to improve efficiency and reduce costs within an organization. However, RPA programs require ongoing support and maintenance to function effectively and deliver value.
In fact, Forrester has found that 45 percent of companies experience weekly bot breakdowns, often resulting from a lack of this process. Proper support and maintenance ensure RPA programs run smoothly, adapt to changes and meet the business’s needs. Without it, automation programs may suffer from errors, inefficiencies and a lack of user adoption.
In this post, we will explore why RPA requires support and maintenance, the consequences of neglecting these steps, and strategies for mitigating risks while maximizing the value of your automation program.
Why Do RPA Programs Require Support and Maintenance?
RPA programs may require more support and maintenance than expected for many reasons. First, the tools currently on the market are designed to be easy to use, even for non-technical business users or entry-level developers. That means people may develop automations monolithically without considering outside influences or constraints.
For example, a subject matter expert (SME) may design an automation based on their own understanding of a process without considering how changes to the system or other variables might affect their automation. The result may be their automations are inflexible and prone to breaking when faced with unexpected changes. As automations evolve, different developers may also offer different solutions for common scenarios, which can lead to inconsistencies and increased support costs.
Another reason RPA programs may require more support and maintenance is that RPA is sensitive to any changes to the user interfaces of the applications it interacts with. For example, if the layout or function of a website or software application changes, it can affect how the RPA bot interacts with the system. You could also automate changes to the business process, which may require additional changes you need to address in the bot code.
In addition, incomplete requirements can drive-up support costs and prevent the project from reaching its ROI goals. For example, if a developer designs an automation to work with a specific version of an application, but the company upgrades to a newer version, the automation may no longer work as intended. You may need a significant effort to update the automation to work with the new version of the application.
Overall, RPA programs can require more support and maintenance due to a combination of factors, including inflexible automations, sensitivity to environmental changes and incomplete requirements. By understanding these challenges and taking steps to address them, you can improve the support and maintenance of your RPA program and ensure its long-term success.
What Happens When Your Team Prioritizes RPA Support and Maintenance?
When your team focuses on RPA support and maintenance, they are dedicating a significant portion of their time and resources to ensuring the RPA program is functioning properly and any issues that arise are dealt with promptly. This process may involve monitoring the bots’ performance, identifying and fixing bugs, and implementing updates and upgrades.
By building RPA support and maintenance into your day-to-day, you can ensure your program is reliable and consistent, which is essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and trust. It also helps to prevent issues from escalating and causing disruptions to business operations.
Additionally, by dedicating resources to this process, you can minimize the impact on your development team, allowing them to focus on their core tasks and work on high-value projects that support the growth and development of your RPA program. Otherwise, support issues may constantly pull them away from their regular duties. Dedicated resources can help increase the productivity and satisfaction of your development team.
What’s the Worst That Can Happen Without This Support?
Ignoring RPA support and maintenance can have serious consequences for your program. Some of the worst things that can happen include:
- Increased costs: You may not be able to address issues with automations in a timely manner. Result: More frequent breakdowns and a higher workload for your team, which can drive up costs. In addition, addressing issues reactively rather than proactively can be more expensive than taking preventative measures to avoid problems in the first place.
- Decreased employee satisfaction: It can be tedious and time consuming to manage exceptions and address issues with automations. When the business can’t or won’t support this work, team members may feel overwhelmed and undervalued. Result: Decreased employee satisfaction, which can cause higher turnover.
- Lack of standardization: Different team members may take different approaches to solving problems. Result: A lack of standardization, which can make it more difficult to maintain automations over time and increase the risk of errors.
- Ad hoc monitoring and reporting: It can be difficult to track the performance and effectiveness of your automations without a robust monitoring and reporting system in place. Result: Reliance on ad hoc reporting, which can be time consuming and inefficient.
- Decreased trust and adoption: If users of the automation experience frequent issues or errors, they may lose trust in the system. Result: Decreased adoption and lack of buy-in from stakeholders.
Overall, ignoring support and maintenance can have serious. So, what can you do to incorporate this process into your RPA program?
How Do You Fix This?
To prevent these problems, you must allocate the necessary resources to support your RPA program and ensure it runs efficiently. By keeping support and maintenance a prerogative, you can avoid the pitfalls hindering the success of your automations and realize the full value of your RPA investment. Below are some suggestions for addressing related challenges in RPA programs:
- Standardize the development process: Standardize how your company develops automation by establishing clear guidelines for how teams should design and implement automations or establish a system for tracking changes and updates to the automations. This standardization will help you reduce the number of exceptions teams need to address and make it easier for the development team to troubleshoot issues as they arise.
- Set up a system for tracking exceptions: Set up a system for tracking exceptions that occur during the automation process. Techniques include using a bug-tracking tool or setting up a system for users to report exceptions as they arise. By tracking exceptions in a centralized location, you can more easily identify trends and patterns contributing to any issues and take steps to address them.
- Review automations regularly: It’s important to regularly review your automations to identify potential issues and make updates as needed. This could involve performing regular audits of the automations so you can identify any areas causing problems or setting up a system for monitoring the automations in real-time to identify issues as they occur. By regularly reviewing your automations, you can proactively address problems and ensure your automations run smoothly.
- Allocate sufficient resources: Finally, it’s important to allocate the necessary resources to support your RPA program. You may have to hire additional staff with the skills and expertise needed to maintain and update the automations or set aside a budget for training and development. Investing in these resources can ensure your RPA program has the support it needs to succeed.
Proper support and maintenance are essential for the success of any RPA program, and neglecting these can lead to many problems, including high support costs, decreased employee satisfaction and a lack of standardization. To avoid these challenges, prioritize this process for your RPA program. This could involve standardizing the development process, setting up a system for tracking exceptions, regularly reviewing automations and allocating sufficient resources. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your RPA program runs smoothly and achieves its desired outcomes.