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Financial Considerations and Constraints of RPA Implementation


Kelsey Meyer

Published July 19, 2019

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Welcome to the 21st century. Though we are only a fifth of the way through it, life sure has changed from nearly two decades ago. In 1999, instead of counting down with jubilee to the year 2000, many were in doomsday mode, predicting the end of the world. Computers and other technology were set to self-destruct as clocks and dates wouldn’t roll over, leaving advanced societies in chaos and leading to all-out warfare in many minds.

Then the clock struck midnight and a lot of needless anticipation failed. Much like if Cinderella never ran off as the bell tolled and instead decided to take off her mask, collect her shoe, and face Prince Charming and her evil stepmother and stepsisters. A whole lot of nothing could have been avoided. 

Seeing the difference even 20 years makes in terms of tech advancement and forward thinking is noticeable when examined closely. It is even more startling, and almost inconceivable, when comparing life and tech nowadays to how it was a century ago.

Contrasting 1919 versus 2019 is like comparing the American Gothic, one of Iowa’s treasured paintings, with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in the same position as a parody. 

In 1919 the first non-stop transatlantic flight took place. The first proposal allowing women the right to vote was introduced. President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke. In 2019, people are planning flights to Mars, women are running for President, and nuclear weapons have the power to destroy our world with the pressing of a few buttons. Times have changed. And they will keep changing.

In 1999, the internet was still in relative infancy and cell phones were more of a want than a need. Businesses could still survive without fancy websites, interactive apps, and intricate real-time data analysis. Nothing was entirely “virtual” and still required a human touch.

Then Robotic Process Automation (RPA) came along and revolutionized the way companies operate. The introduction of RPA from wishful fantasy available to only businesses with deep pockets to its current ability to be implemented in companies large and small has progressed rapidly. This has made many organizations weary about incorporating RPA into their current business structure, as they often have misconceptions about the process. 

One of the biggest preventers of companies adopting RPA is the potential financial constraints and concerns its implementation and functionality bring. 

Would you prefer to talk to someone about the return on investment using an implementation specialist? 

Should IT Decide About RPA?

Before diving into the financial concerns and constraints associated with RPA, it should be made clear that RPA purchasing decisions shouldn’t be an IT initiative. Oftentimes, CIOs are held accountable for RPA buying decisions without having the final word in whether or not to actually implement RPA projects. And while IT involvement should be considered and highly utilized based on the technical complexity of the process, in other instances it is best to have your business operations team drive the activity and own the results.

This can be a sticky situation as your IT team and business operations team must interact cohesively. If they’re at odds, then there is less likelihood RPA implementations can be made and maintained.  

Granted, RPA implementation doesn’t always include IT involvement for simple automated functions, but in the grand scheme of things you need IT in some capacity to actively plan, develop, deploy, and manage RPA.

How Do You Adequately Judge Financial Constraints?

Now that we’ve properly identified the big confusion that often arises when dealing with RPA implementation, let’s dive a little deeper.

Beyond a disconnect between IT, your business operations team, and the final decision makers, the failure to recognize the extensiveness of your RPA needs varies greatly. For example, having to build integration across disconnected systems is a heavy investment. IT would be deeply involved in all aspects of the integration. 

If you use RPA instead to solve the problem, there might be a greater upfront cost, but the issues are mitigated and recouped through the savings in less than 12 months. Now you must consider a short windfall versus long-term prosperity.

Additionally, your IT team might not have the necessary bandwidth to lend proper support to your organization’s RPA initiative(s). There are particular skill sets and expertise needed to ensure the success of RPA, and they aren’t often found in-house, especially if you have a smaller staff that requires training, hence, another investment. 

We do the work for you. Leaving RPA implementation in the hands of experts greatly reduces your total expenditures over time. That first leap can be scary. Maybe just take baby steps.

For example, consider a smaller pilot program. This way any money you invest in RPA is on a smaller scale, but you still have the opportunity to see the benefits and capabilities directly. This gives you reflection time to decide if RPA is a suitable strategic initiative for your organization and your path for moving forward.

What Are  Other Financial Considerations?

Outside of IT versus business operations confusion and the initial leap into the RPA fray, other financial considerations sometimes pop up throughout the consideration and implementation process.

Because RPA is still relatively new, despite being a buzzword around the tech industry for a few years now, there is hesitation on its long-term use and efficiency. Part of the skepticism stems from misinformation and its future effectiveness, which any innovation has to overcome. 

RPA might be viewed as too much of a hassle in regard to its uncertain payback. In other words, you might be worried that RPA’s financial and intellectual expenses outweigh its benefits. There is no denying the positive impact automation has made across industries, but sometimes those imprints aren’t enough to alleviate negative connotations.

For example, despite documented evidence of RPA’s many benefits, its implementation and management still might seem too complex for some businesses. This creates a train of thought along the lines of, “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?” 

Unwillingness to adapt from fear of the unknown and comfortability of the present creeps in and can deflect any sense of advanced thinking on these matters. To counteract this thinking pathway, it is important to remain open-minded and consider all angles of a situation. In RPA’s case, you need to understand the effectiveness of automation beyond cost reduction and fast payback.

Whereas RPA implementation is met with resistance, it is almost undeniable that RPA provides a significant cost reduction when successfully enforced. Quite a contradiction, right? The reasoning behind this is based on RPA’s automation and bot capabilities, which perform error-free work at a greater speed than humans. Greater productivity equals greater outcomes. 

This leads into the bigger financial notion, which concerns not only organizations but their employees as well, that the involvement of RPA will cut jobs and put people out of work. While menial and repetitive tasks are best left for RPA, if you are an organization that dismisses workers for automation, you are missing the entire point of its ingenuity.

One of the most prized components of RPA is the free time it clears up for employees. Most workers are constantly overloaded, often with busy work that doesn’t lead to any actual results. Thus, they are stuck in an endless cycle of rinse and repeat. Once RPA eliminates those tasks, the worker’s world become an oyster. But only if your organization embraces it and finds that pearl.

Companies need to look beyond filling job roles for the current tasks at hand, but instead invest in employees that have inherent traits and thus the ability to grow professionally. Fulfilling menial and repetitive tasks with RPA gives you an opportunity to engage your employees in other useful ways that are more satisfying and rewarding to you and them. 

Use the free time to have your employees learn new initiatives, take trainings, or attend to neglected projects that take a lot of insight and dedication. This approach benefits both RPA and employees.

Final Thoughts

RPA is less plug and play and more slice and dice. There is no “one size fits all” strategy, rather more direct strategies that focus on individual scenarios. Its implications and general results hold up despite the difficulties it faces. RPA isn’t the problem, having humans adapt to it is.

For more information on the costs associated with RPA, or to become a RPA brainiac yourself, please reach out here.

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