Five Robotic Process Automation Risks to Avoid

As organizations explore how software robots — or bots — can help automate administrative tasks and decisions, it pays to keep in mind some of the risks that come with the territory.

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Software robots have emerged as a potential way for organizations to achieve clear cost savings. As an evolution of automated application testing and quality assurance (QA) platforms, software bots can simulate activities that humans perform via screens and applications. A software bot can be trained to perform QA tasks, such as tapping and swiping through an app like a human would, or execute repetitive service tasks such as generating bills. It does this either by recording what humans do or via scripts that are straightforward to construct. The result is the ability to automate rote tasks that do not require complex decision-making, without the need for underlying systems changes.

Deploying bots seems deceptively simple. Robotic process automation (RPA) software vendors are actively pitching their platforms, and professional services organizations are talking up the possibilities that bots offer for cost savings with minimal project spending and limited transformational pain, which is resulting in significant corporate interest. Some forward-looking organizations are using bots and other rapid-process and data-automation tool sets to free up budget and resources to kick off large-scale reengineering programs. Others are simply using the tools to give themselves a bit of breathing room to figure out where to go next with their core platforms.

Given the push toward digital agility and away from legacy systems, it’s not surprising that organizations are executing pilots with bots across their operations. But there are five major risks to consider when designing a bot strategy.

1. If bot deployment is not standardized, bots could become another legacy albatross. The way in which business organizations are adopting bots brings to mind another application adoption: measures to address the Y2K software bug at the end of the 20th century. To deal with the time-clock change at the turn of the century, many organizations circumvented legacy limitations. Business users embraced the increasing power in Microsoft Excel and Access to create complex, business-critical applications on their desktops. But as those custom-made computing tools proliferated, so did the problems due to the lack of a strong controls framework, QA, release-management processes, and other formalized IT processes. Companies then had to spend large sums of money tracking down all their wayward tools and slowly eliminating them from critical functions.

Today’s explosion of bots threatens to repeat this pattern.



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Comments (2)
Jeff P
@ChrisDeBrusk pointed out some interesting risks. I would just like to point out why RPA is almost inevitable.

Most software today is designed for a end user, who are not software programmers. At the time the software is designed and delivered, you don't necessarily think of also designing an API for the software. This is because designing the API as well the GUI is pretty expensive, especially because the software company delivering the software, doesn't necessarily know whether the API will be necessarily and wants to reduce unnecessary costs. Further, in some cases, its not in their best interests to design or give out APIs because doing so reduces the number of licenses they can sell.

This is where RPA comes in. The typical scenario is when a company buys a certain software. Initially the software is not widely used, but by some combination starts being used very repeatatively. Yet, because of the absence of any APIs they can't automate it, even though there is a clear logic involved in the operation of the software. Because of RPA tools like that which autoRPA provides, companies can automate such tools. 

Secondly, doing such repeatative tasks over and over lowers employee morale,
high burnout and churn. Companies will have to hire and retrain employees. Again, using
autoRPA reduces such burnout and churn.

Third, designing robust software is expensive for companies, because the code
has to be maintained tested etc. When a company uses autoRPA, they are
basically following what the person does. There is no code to support or write
or maintain.

We believe all these add a lot more value than the risks involved in deploying
RPA at scale.
Alicia Alvin
Interesting post... Nailed it. i found one more article on rpa