Avoiding the Automation Trap: 4 Reasons Projects Fail and How to Prevail

Published By R-Path Automation

Published On January 31, 2024

Navigating your organization's automation journey is like traipsing through an intricate maze, where every decision can significantly impact the outcome. This challenge is amplified by the sobering reality that many automation projects don't deliver on their promises.

Studies reveal that up to half of all enterprise automation and AI implementations fail, often due to a lack of cohesive strategy and scalability. Remember the last executive champion or technology leader at your organization who embarked on a major automation initiative, only to see it crumble under its complexity?

Their story is not uncommon.

Many have witnessed or even been part of such endeavors, where months of effort led to disappointing results or complete stagnation. At R-Path Automation, we aim to change this narrative.

By highlighting the four most treacherous obstacles in your automation path, we provide a playbook to not just confront these challenges but to turn them into milestones of success.

Here are four common ways ineffective planning can cause RPA projects to fail:

1. Losing Momentum 🐌

Automation is exciting! The promise of greater efficiency, higher profits, and processes that operate like a well-oiled machine generates enthusiasm, especially among leadership teams.

However, many companies make the mistake of building excitement and energy around the first project without a clear idea of how to build the program from there. They approach RPA from a project-centric view rather than taking a program-centric approach that positions automation as a new capability that will positively impact the organization as a whole. Once the initial project has been completed, enthusiasm wanes, and there’s no clear vision of where else to apply the new-found ability.

2. Choosing Unsuitable Projects to Automate ⛔

Some teams feel the need to start with the most complicated use case to validate the technology. They’re (understandably) motivated to get a big win right away! The problem with this approach is if the first project is too large or overly complex, developers and leaders alike become frustrated at how difficult it is or how long it takes to implement. In response, they abandon the project before they ever see results. Instead, establishing quick wins early in the life of your organization's automation program will always help.

In addition, some tasks and processes are simply not a good fit for automation. For example, RPA alone may not be the right solution for streamlining processes with significant variability or tasks with insufficient volume to produce a meaningful ROI.

Many companies underestimate the value of a small project that builds trust in the technology across the organization. After all, when employees don’t understand how RPA works, they’re bound to feel some anxiety about the impact it might have on their jobs. Without establishing trust from the beginning, it becomes much more difficult to build a successful, company-wide RPA program.

3. Battling Maintenance Challenges 🔧

Picking the right project can make or break a company’s success with RPA, but even the right project can be derailed by constant, unforeseen maintenance issues. Many teams begin automation projects without first having a good understanding of how the selected process works today, how frequently it changes, when it needs to scale up or down, and other factors that require the automation to adjust after launch.

This ineffective planning often leads to unexpected maintenance issues or “broken bots.” The bots aren’t broken, of course, but they encounter a situation they were never built to handle and stop working. This begins a frustrating cycle that derails RPA programs.

Before a company begins an automation project, whether it’s the first or the 50th, all stakeholders must understand the maintenance requirements — and program the bots to accommodate them — to keep processes running smoothly and avoid broken bots.

4. Failing to Assemble the Perfect Team 🙇

Another common reason automation initiatives fail is that companies don’t put the right team in place to effectively execute and deliver RPA projects. A successful automation program requires a team with a broad set of skills, including automation design, process mapping and optimization, programming, and project management to name a few.

Companies that fail to establish the proper team, sometimes called an automation Center of Excellence (CoE), often find themselves in a classic “too many cooks in the kitchen” (or perhaps “not enough cooks in the kitchen”) scenario, resulting in inconsistent and unsatisfying results. While a CoE isn’t necessary for a pilot project, it is definitely required in the long run to keep automation plans on track and accelerate the rate of adoption across the organization.

The key to avoiding these challenges and ensuring success with RPA is simple: proper planning.

To learn more about how to plan a successful RPA program for your organization, look no further than R-Path Automation’s Quick Start Methodology here, or schedule a call with us today!