The Limitations of Robotic Process Automation

May 31, 2022
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When technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) were introduced years ago, they were lightyears ahead of the manual business processes in place at the time. As a result, they were often viewed as the end-all-be-all solution for the future. As organizations began implementing RPA solutions, many experienced excellent results – and yet, as implementations have matured, companies are now experiencing RPA limitations.

Struggling With Less-Than-Perfect Structures

While RPA has automated and accelerated the processing of highly structured, repetitive and predictable tasks for many organizations, companies are now realizing how many of their needs revolve around automating less-than-perfect documentation.

For example, although many forms in the insurance industry are standardized, the completion of these forms are not always ideal. Missing information, poor scan or fax quality and slightly skewed selection boxes mean that a high percentage of automated processing ends up on a human being’s desk to be manually handled.

Skyrocketing Developer Costs

RPA implementations are often high-touch and high-maintenance as far as the IT resources required - even for simple tasks. As a result, the skyrocketing salaries of developers have taken a significant bite out of the expected return on investment that a company hopes to achieve with RPA.

Labor challenges that are especially pronounced in the IT industry mean that attracting, retaining, training and compensating IT professionals are more costly than ever today. Even if an RPA solution has an affordable price tag of $25,000; developer salaries that easily reach $200,000 per year can be prohibitive for many businesses.

In addition, when exceptions creep upwards because of RPA limitations, additional human resources are required to manage those exceptions.

Failure to Scale

According to an article in Forbes, an “inherent RPA limitation is that it automates specific tasks — in other words, mimicking human behavior at the level of individual work.” Although this capability can make a big difference at the micro level, it doesn’t automatically scale to meet broad organizational digital transformation goals.  

Unless individual RPA improvements can be linked and support the overall company processes, they will remain only isolated elements at an individual task level. A contributing factor is that many RPA bots are innately complex, requiring too many decision points to be effective at a corporate level.

In Search of a Holistic, Flexible, Integrated Solution

As more companies experience the limitations of RPA, they are seeking out a more robust, transformative, holistic solution that can harness the strengths of RPA while addressing its weaknesses.

Businesses should abandon non-core capabilities that will not generate an adequate ROI from RPA and focus instead on tasks that can affect organization-wide digital transformation. Selecting next-generation technologies that can manage less-than-perfect forms and documentation while kicking out fewer exceptions will maximize a company’s investment.

For example, the Digital Coworker from Roots Automation is well-versed in a wide variety of common forms and documents in the insurance industry, learning from every single customer for the benefit of future clients. In addition, customized tasks can be mastered quickly through machine learning technology. The Digital Coworker can read, review and interpret information like a human being much more so than conventional RPA solutions, providing greater flexibility and performance for today’s digitally forward organization.

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