New technologies anew technologies are continually being developed, moulded, and applied. Examples include artificial intelligence (AI), big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and, more precisely, robotic process automation (RPA). As time goes on, a lot of these businesses invest more into these new technologies. As an example RPA is one of these disruptive technologies that Deloitte uses to show the value of early adopters in the automation space. (Adopting Robotic Process Automation in Internal Audit, 2022). As written by Maizlish and Handler (2008), companies today stand at a critical juncture in today’s business climate. “The pressure of managing and optimising IT investments across multiple business units/divisions in alignment with key business drivers and their associated risks, cost, value, performance in light of limited resources (people, funding, facilities, etc.) and a demanding legal and regulatory environment is a challenge for all companies.“
Wolmarans et al. (2016) and their sources therein state that firms must implement the appropriate controls and methods to manage the quality and cost-effectiveness of their IT capabilities. Further research from Lombardi et al. (2021) we are aware that emerging technologies are only now beginning to have an influence in the sphere of auditing. In the context of RPA large organizations will triple their current RPA portfolios, according to (Gartner Says Worldwide Robotic Process Automation Software Revenue To, 2020), but also any prospective advantages that might result from using RPA.
Literature by Rawashdeh (2022) shows what value RPA (Robotic process automation) can offer to audit firms. Rawashdeh (2022) quotes that a “significant favourable influence was found between RPA adoption and business value”. But similarly, they state that “According to this study, organisations should have a clear digital vision, strategy, and understanding of how RPA adoption should be implemented and what results it may create”.
Although we are aware that RPA may in particular add value to businesses, deployment is still a difficult problem. Pat Geary from Blue Prism is the one who first used the term RPA. In theory, RPA (which stands for Robotic Process Automation) is synonymous with its name as a real robot that can automate particular repetitive chores as a software-based bot (Willcocks et al., 2015) & (Taulli, 2020). Taulli (2020) gives a list of the tasks that RPA can automate. For instance, opening websites and logging in, opening emails and attachments, reading and writing databases, extracting data from documents, using processes, and copying and pasting information between programs. Huang and Vasarhelyi (2019b) discuss how auditors would be able to concentrate more on specific duties that call for expert judgment if such tasks could be automated.
RPA is fundamentally a tool that automates particular jobs in order to free up time for people who are working on monotonous and repetitive duties. as opposed to modern automation tools that operate at several technical levels. RPA is unique in that it makes use of human interfaces to record and manipulate programs as though a person were engaging with the systems. In theory, according to Taulli (2020), there are three distinct types of RPA. First, there is RPA in which software collaborates with a human component to accomplish a certain task. Secondly, there is unattended RPA which automates operations without human involvement or input. Lastly, IPA, or intelligent process automation, is the final option. (Huang and Vasarhelyi 2019b). In IPA, a system can adapt over time thanks to technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. RPA is described in this study as software that enables the automation of manual operations via user interfaces.
Key advantages of RPA
According to Da Silva Costa et al. (2022) the use of digital workers in the form of RPA has many advantages. The capacity of RPA to undertake boring and monotonous jobs to free up time for workers to focus on more complicated tasks that give more value to a firm was the most frequently cited benefit in the study summarizing the available literature. Through observations, it becomes clear that individuals would devote time to developing their abilities in order to become more qualified for their particular role as a result of an RPA implementation. The elimination of the human element in tasks through the use of RPA software would result in a decreased rate of errors. The improvement of customer service and happiness was emphasized in the selected papers summarized by Da Silva Costa et al. (2022). RPA is responsible for these gains because it enables quicker and more efficient process execution. Processes were finished in a tenth of the time compared to how long they used to take thanks to the observed quantitative benefits of RPA deployments (Wojciechowska-Filipek, 2019). The articles emphasized the RPA bots’ flexibility to operate at any time as a distinct advantage.
Businesses that used RPA benefited from standardization as well. For RPA to function effectively within an organization, processes must be standardised. To ensure efficient integration of this technology, RPA software needs reliable, mature processes as well as organized data (Wojciechowska-Filipek, 2019). It is reasonable to say that the use of RPA software results in the benefit of standardization (Wojciechowska-Filipek, 2019).
Other advantages of RPA that have been seen in the banking industry include a 40% decrease in office space costs (Wojciechowska-Filipek, 2019), better handling of employee absences because RPA can handle repetitive tasks, and enabling employees to work remotely.
Direct interaction with application user interfaces is one of RPA software’s primary benefits. RPA may therefore integrate with any software program, in practice. Unaffected by the capabilities, infrastructure, and interfaces of the software that permit third-party integrations (Santos et al. 2019).
|Benefits of RPA|
|More insightful work||Improvement of staff skills|
|Performs tasks faster||Standardisation|
|Fewer errors and consistent quality||Highly scalable/extensible/reusable|
|Cost savings||Deploys new functionalities faster than other IT solutions|
|Customer service and satisfaction||Integrates with systems through the application user interface|
|Working 24/7||Fast Return on Investment|
Table 1: benefits of implementing RPA (Santos et al. 2019) & (Da Silva Costa et al., 2022)
Challenges of RPA
The difficulties that develop during the software’s implementation and ultimate use are crucial elements that need to be taken into account in RPA. The use of RPA presents a variety of difficulties. RPA is prone to misalignment because it can interact directly with an application’s user interface, which changes more quickly over time than processes and data structures (Santos et al. 2019). It is occasionally essential to reconfigure the robots when the user interface changes, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
Lack of comprehension of RPA’s scope and applications is one of its major obstacles (Santos et al. 2019). This may be caused by a variety of things, including a lack of RPA competence inside an organization, a lack of knowledge about the technology, and an ignorance of the possible advantages that RPA may be able to bring about. Given that RPA is a relatively new technology, it would seem that its implementation is being hampered by a lack of expertise and experience (Da Silva Costa et al., 2022). Businesses run into problems selecting the best options for adoption. Additionally, there is resistance to RPA adaptation as a result of ignorance of and incompetence with RPA software (Da Silva Costa et al., 2022). Employees are reluctant and avoid using RPA unless forced to do so out of concern for their employment (Fernandez & Aman, 2018, Da Silva Costa et al., 2022).
One of RPA’s drawbacks is that businesses must be aware that the technology is only appropriate for rule-based operations. Workers may be better qualified to handle such processes if they exist and there are many exceptions (Santos et al. 2019). Although digital documentation and data are used in the majority of modern operations. RPA implementation in organizations is still hampered by paper procedures and unstructured data (Wewerka et al., 2020; Da Silva Costa et al., 2022). It’s crucial to investigate the processes that lend themselves to automation if you want your RPA implementation project to be a success.
Finally, from a security standpoint, RPA faces a number of significant difficulties. The majority of a company’s digital assets are handled by people, but new strategies for using RPA must carefully examine its access rights (Da Silva Costa et al., 2022). Since there are typically no security precautions in place for digital workers, the recent development of RPA and the lack of documentation may make it challenging for organizations to implement RPA (Vokoun, 2021).
In table 2, the current overview of challenges that are associated with the implementation and usage of RPA has been put into perspective.
|Robot maintenance||Unclear division of responsibilities between IT and BUs|
|Employee and stakeholder resistance||Lack of knowledge and Experience|
|Can make mistakes faster||Data incompatibility|
|Access and security issues||Unfit processes|
Table 2: Future challenges of implementing RPA (Santos et al. 2019 & Costa et al., 2022)
In conclusion, RPA presents both significant challenges and opportunities for businesses in various industries. While it has the potential to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks, and reduce errors, its implementation requires careful consideration, planning, and execution. The successful deployment of RPA depends on various factors, including the complexity of the process, the quality of the data, and the skill set of the team involved in its implementation. Despite the challenges, the increasing demand for automation and the availability of advanced technologies are expected to drive the growth of RPA in the coming years. Therefore, businesses that can embrace RPA and leverage its benefits while addressing its challenges are likely to stay ahead of the competition and achieve long-term success.
This article is a by-product of a literature review of an in-progress thesis written for the Information management thesis cycle 2022/2023 2nd half of the year. This article is not a submission to publication or should be seen as a reference for the upcoming thesis cycle but a sharing of interim literature review results of ongoing research by the same author. The goal of this blog is to promote the ongoing research of Rian van der Meiden for a thesis. This article will be updated with reference to the finished thesis publication once completed.
Adopting robotic process automation in Internal Audit. (2022, August 16). Deloitte United States. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/risk/articles/internal-audit-robotic-process-automation-adoption.html
Gartner Says Worldwide Robotic Process Automation Software Revenue to. (2020, September 21). Gartner. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-09-21-gartner-says-worldwide-robotic-process-automation-software-revenue-to-reach-nearly-2-billion-in-2021
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