How to Avoid Pitfalls on Your RPA Development Journey


Picture this: you’ve installed robotic process automation (RPA) software, you’ve trained your people, the pipeline is full and now it’s time to start automating. It’s an exciting time as you finally prepare to see automation benefits on the horizon. But – wait. To achieve the projected benefits quickly, you must pay attention to the most common pitfalls. Just one misstep can keep you from fully realizing the return on investment you’ve been counting on. Here are the five most common pitfalls:

  1. Ill-defined or incomplete processes. One of the requirements for a potential RPA process candidate is clearly defined and mature business rules. Before beginning development, a developer needs to know how to perform the process keystroke by keystroke. If there is ambiguity with the process, the developer runs the risk of building an automation that will not meet the business objective. Taking the time to document the process and clarifying any missing steps will pay dividends when you reach the end of the development journey.
  2. Lack of a plan. “He who fails to plan is planning to fail” are words of wisdom for the RPA development journey. Every automation built with the intention of running consistently and reliably must first start with a design plan that outlines how the automation will perform the work. From a technical perspective, a well-executed architecture design will deliver a hardened automation that is focused on ensuring object reusability, shortening the development journey of future automations and meeting business objectives. Without a design plan, you might arrive at your destination eventually, but there will be costly delays along the way.
  3. Lack of controls. Automations are guaranteed to encounter obstacles, just as humans do when they are executing processes. During the development journey, prepare automations to handle these obstacles by implementing controls. Controls are implemented to detect errors or exceptions close to the source and then handle each scenario appropriately. An automation can be configured to check if a file exists before opening the file, for example, so that it is prepared for the unexpected.  Without controls, an automation will realize only partial benefits.
  4. Inadequate testing. Some may conduct testing after development, but to deliver quality automations, testing must pervade the entire development journey. Since RPA primarily works at the user interface level much like a human user, it is subject to irregularities and interruptions in the performance and behaviors of the applications and systems with which it interacts – popups or delayed application load time, for example. If an automation does not contain logic to detect and take action to address these unexpected events, it will fail. Testing at the command, module and end-to-end levels will flush out issues during the development journey and fortify your automation to perform successfully once in production.
  5. A reclusive bot. When humans encounter an issue they can’t resolve, they typically communicate that issue to someone else. Automations need to do the same. It may seem to be an oxymoron at first, but an automation should be a “people person.” This means it needs to communicate how it is doing, what it did and specific problems it is encountering. This communication can be via email, your company’s instant messaging platform, audit logs or summary files, just to name a few. If you build a reclusive automation that does not communicate, it will be difficult to track the progress of its work.

RPA development is not hard, but it’s not easy either. There are missteps along the development journey that can cause your automation to miss its projected return on investment. ISG helps enterprises set up best practices, avoid the pitfalls above and deliver automations that live up to their fullest potential. Contact us to find out how we can help you.