As the enterprise world is mostly focused on digital transformation, process optimization, and increasing efficiency, there is one question I often come across online: What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and when to use it? If you want to ensure a successful implementation, you should read this article and ask yourself some questions. As you will see below, scenarios that appear to be good candidates for RPA could turn into very costly mistakes.

Anyone who has spent some time in contact centers or shared-service centers will be familiar with the complexity of processes their work entails. I always found them to be filled with hard-working individuals, doing a great job, even without access to the best tools on the market.

A helpful way to think about the processes in contact centers is to see them as a mix of ‘exploratory’ and ‘programmatic’ tasks. This categorization is something that MWD Advisors highlighted in their report on Desktop Integration. Exploratory processes are those that are human-centric, while ‘programmatic’ processes are the ones in which automation (such as RPA, workflow, or BPM) can be used to accelerate task completion.

The moment of realization came to me when I met an organization that had recently reviewed its back-office programmatic processes. They had concluded that even though the process flow was repeatable, the need to interpret and act upon unstructured data sources from third parties would make an RPA solution too fragile. Their view was that the beginning of using the Robotic Process Automation would be fine, but after that, they would be facing a never-ending maintenance nightmare.

Are you curious to see how your use case fits the RPA implementations? Read more about the good candidates for RPA implementation and in which cases you should best consider a different solution in the article I published on Finextra.

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James Wooster