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Why Agility is Crucial for Scaling RPA

by Ant Sh
Agility for RPA

Although RPA, compared to traditional automation, is easy-to-use (thanks to its low-code interfaces) and less expensive to implement, it also has its downsides. Brittle and challenging to scale, a sobering 30% to 50% of Robotic Process Automation projects fail. There is no one reason RPA and intelligent automation projects fail, but poor process selection, a lack of governance, and substandard project management practices are often contributing factors. Which begs the question, could an agile approach to RPA-related project management and software development help ensure success?

Unlike traditional, sequential “waterfall” methods, Agile emphasizes:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Another difference from traditional approaches is that it breaks the project down into small, digestible increments known as “sprints.” Requirements, plans, and outcomes are continuously evaluated throughout the project lifecycle, making change an organic part of the process.

Why agile for RPA?

If the goal of RPA is to enhance the human work experience by eliminating repetitive, low value tasks, it must be co-implemented with the end-user. Fortunately, an agile approach encourages close collaboration with stakeholders early and frequently.

While in the past IT would be solely responsible for implementing new technology, agile methodologies call for the creation of cross-functional teams that break down silos and promote business/IT alignment, a must for RPA success. Secondly, as mentioned before, RPA is quite brittle and does not respond well to change. Unlike traditional methods, an agile approach makes room for ongoing, iterative changes and upgrades post-implementation.

Last but not least, agile provides the governance framework needed to scale RPA and intelligent automation across the enterprise. In these scenarios, organizations can adopt a factory-like approach to implementing RPA consisting of reusable components, workflows, standards & guidelines, tools, and reference implementations. Not only is such an approach cost- and labor-effective, it also results in higher quality and more secure RPA applications.

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