Why RPA Projects Can Fail (+ How You Can Fix It)

In the rush to jump into RPA projects, some companies are missing critical steps on the path to implementing RPA successfully.

In the rush to jump into RPA projects, some companies are missing critical steps on the path to implementing RPA successfully.

May 7, 2019
Ankur Verma

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In the rush to jump into RPA projects, some companies are missing critical steps on the path to implementing RPA successfully.
Many businesses are attracted to the concept of RPA to help them improve their businesses processes. However, in the rush to jump into RPA, some companies are missing critical steps on the path to implementing RPA successfully.

The good news is that when organizations understand the common pitfalls that can come with this technology, it's much easier to avoid them. In this post, we'll cover what RPA is, why RPA projects can fail and what you can do to keep them on the right track.  

What is RPA?

Briefly, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that allows you to configure software to emulate actions that a human would take when interacting with digital systems. RPA "bots" can execute repetitive business processes by communicating with other systems, interpreting data and triggering responses.  

Why are enterprises using RPA?

Enterprises are using RPA because of the impact it has on productivity. Organizations that execute labor-intensive processes can save both time and money with RPA. Increased efficiency has made this solution attractive to many different types of businesses.

Today, businesses are capitalizing on this trend and evaluating how RPA can boost productivity for all types of business initiatives. According to a report by Market Research Future, the robotic process automation market is expected to grow by USD 2,700 Million approximately by 2023 at 29% CAGR between 2017 and 2023. In addition to that, according to NASSCOM, businesses can cut costs by up to 65% percent with RPA. For these reasons, RPA implementation is becoming an attractive option for businesses across many industries.  

Why RPA projects can fail

While RPA can be a great tool for many organizations, it's easy to run into issues when you don't know where the pitfalls are. Here's a look at some of the reasons why RPA projects can fail. 

Skipping leadership buy-in

Anyone working in the technology space knows that things are always changing and everything moves quickly. However, when it comes to RPA, companies shouldn't jump in without leadership buy-in. In general, this leads to a lack of clarity and can hinder the success of the implementation. It's important that executives understand the hows and whys behind RPA. How will this impact the organization? Why are you considering using RPA with certain processes? When executives don't have answers to these questions, it's difficult to ensure that the right resources will be dedicated to the project.  

Unrealistic expectations

There are a few things that organizations should understand about RPA. For example, though we often associate automation with a "set it and forget it" mentality, this is often not reality. RPA does require some on-going maintenance to ensure that processes are being executed properly. In addition, organizations should be realistic about the complexity of their processes. If a process is extremely complex or often requires human intervention, it's unlikely to be a process that will work well with RPA. 

No collaboration

Communication is key in work and in life. This is no different when we're talking about implementing RPA. A breakdown in communication and collaboration between departments is a common point of failure. Without proper communication, issues that pop up often do not get resolved fast enough and can have a huge impact on the success of RPA. (More on this below). 

Bad design

With so much focus on rapid implementation, the design can sometimes take a back seat when companies decide to jump into RPA. However, this is a huge problem and can have a negative impact on the growth of RPA within a company. Design should be taken into consideration first. Companies without a stable design often run into issues down the line. 

Automation inefficiency

RPA works best with functions that have already been optimized. Automating the wrong processes or processes that haven't been thoroughly optimized is another common pitfall when companies implement RPA for the first time. Instead of streamlining the right processes, organizations often start with processes that are too complex. Remember: RPA is one tool that can be used for automation. However, it's important to implement it with the right use cases.  

How you can set up RPA projects for success

Now that we've covered why RPA projects fail, let's take a look at what you can do to avoid these pitfalls. 

Start with clarity

This may seem obvious, but it's critical to implementing RPA successfully. Organizations need to get clear and what their goals are what they're looking to improve with RPA. Why make this change? What defines success for this implementation? Answering these questions gives businesses a clear purpose and vision for RPA. Simply put, it keeps everyone on the same track and working towards a common goal.  

Consider cost-effectiveness

RPA can be very cost effective for businesses. It can help organizations save money and cut down the number of hours spent on labor-intensive tasks. That said, the costs can add up quickly if issues arise or if an implementation doesn't go as smoothly as planned. It's important for companies to understand the costs associated with RPA. While this can save organizations a significant amount of money over time, it has the potential to get costly while teams put things into place.  

Plan in advance

As we mentioned when we covered the pitfalls of RPA, it's important to make sure that your organization has the right tools. Design is a great example here. The design needs to be both stable and scalable for RPA to function as intended. The bottom line here is that organizations need to look at and plan for possible roadblocks before starting with RPA. 


Above, we mentioned that a lack of collaboration can be a big factor in why RPA projects fail. In contrast, great communication can help these projects run smoothly. RPA requires a lot of collaboration from different parts of the business. Team members from executives to IT and developers all need to understand what the long-term goals are. Maintaining communication between everyone involved in this process is critical. It ensures that issues become less of an obstacle. When everyone is on the same page it becomes a lot easier to tackle problems as they come up or avoid them altogether.  

Continued project management

Even though automation with RPA can save time and money, it does still require ongoing management. As patches, updates and different versions of software are released, it's important to make sure that everything is functioning as intended. In addition to that, business processes and data formats also evolve. This means that teams need to keep a close eye and have control over the process to continue to use and scale RPA.   

Robot process automation with intelligent automation

There's a natural fit between RPA and intelligent automation. RPA allows organizations to automate predictable and repeatable processes. Intelligent automation allows organizations to automate non-routine tasks that are more complex and require things like judgment or creativity. Together, organizations can streamline both the routine and complex parts of their businesses to increase efficiency across the board. These two concepts work together in ways that expand the possibilities and benefits of automation.  

Funtionize + intelligent automation

Funtionize is at the forefront of the Intelligent Automation revolution. Here's a look at a few of our bleeding-edge technologies. 

ALP test creation

Our new natural language processing engine allows you to write a test case in plain English. The test is then automatically converted into functional automation. Then, it's ready for execution across all major browsers. Tests created in Functionize are robust against all sorts of UI changes that break most other test platforms. 

Adaptive event analysis

Our Adaptive Event Analysis (AEA™) engine is the first system to create self-maintaining tests, capable of Root Cause Analysis of test failures and offering 1-click repairs to tests that have broken.

All these features have already put Functionize well on the way to full Intelligent Automation. We constantly refine and improve the way that automated testing is done through the application of AI. To read more on this topic from us, click here.

Wrapping up

RPA is allowing businesses to benefit from technology and adapt to the industry in ways that truly impact their bottom line. When organizations can automate routine tasks, they also gain the ability to boost productivity and reduce costs. That said, it's just one way to implement automation.

It’s the first step on the path towards true intelligent automation. As more basic concepts continue to work with what's on the cutting edge of automation, businesses will find it even easier to grow and excel through change. Here at Functionize, we have jumped two steps ahead, applying AI techniques to create an intelligent test framework that’s on the way to being autonomous. We hope that this article has helped you understand the benefits of RPA and how you can implement it in your organization.