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Mitigating risks when
outsourcing RPA Support
and Maintenance

By Bhavik Patel | October 2020

Like any technology and innovation initiatives, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) comes with disruption and associated risks. In this blog, I will be diving into various risk categories when it comes to outsourcing your RPA Support and Maintenance.

The outsourcing industry is constantly growing, with the market size for global outsourcing reaching $92.5 billion over the last year and the major motivation for outsourcing being saving money for organizations. As many established companies and aspiring startups are now leaning more toward outsourcing, especially that of their RPA, it is evident many still remain in the dark about not only the effects thereof but also the correct way of doing it.

Over the last few years, Robotics Process Automation (RPA) has been one of the biggest ‘buzz’ words and has helped many organizations automate their mundane tasks, whilst improving productivity, quality whilst reducing costs. Organizations have had to partner with vendors or had to build their own in-house teams to implement technology such as RPA to gain an advantage over their competitors.

In the ‘automation first’ era, many offshore vendors have become tech-enabled and have increased their offerings to cater for automation but still provide the low cost option for organizations. Companies can now partner with offshore outsourcing vendors and leverage from their fast, cheaper, and more scalable capabilities rather than developing those in-house.

There are several benefits associated with outsourcing, which can be found in our previous blog, as well as risks. When organizations evaluate potential threats, they sometimes decide not to work with offshore teams and in most cases it happens because of fear, insecurity and a lack of knowledge.

The questions which we ask: Is outsourcing really risky? And could those risks be mitigated?

Below we highlight some of the most common risks of RPA Outsourcing, as well as factors to mitigating risks associated with outsourcing support & maintenance of RPA.

Risk: Information Leakage

With outsourcing, one of the main risks or a fear an organization has is leakage
of information. There are several data breaches globally and some of these are
linked to third-party vendors. Organizations need to be diligent enough in
determining whether the third parties they are looking to work with, will treat
data security as seriously as they would themselves.

Solution: There are many ways to mitigate this risk. First, you can ask the
third-party vendor about their data protection methods. A reputable vendor
will be able to provide you with a detailed response, including their
certifications such as ISO 27001 for Information Security Management System,
best practices, case studies, and examples, which you can check. You should
also sign a non-disclosure agreement with the third-party vendor to protect
your intellectual property.

Risk: Information Leakage

With outsourcing, one of the main risks or a fear an organization has is leakage of information. There are several data breaches globally and some of these are linked to third-party vendors. Organizations need to be diligent enough in determining whether the third parties they are looking to work with, will treat data security as seriously as they would themselves.

Solution: There are many ways to mitigate this risk. First, you can ask the third-party vendor about their data protection methods. A reputable vendor will be able to provide you with a detailed response, including their certifications such as ISO 27001 for Information Security Management System, best practices, case studies, and examples, which you can check. You should also sign a non-disclosure agreement with the third-party vendor to protect your intellectual property.

Risk: Compromised Quality

With any software development, it is all about delivering high-quality solutions quickly and you expect that any fixes that have been applied post-deployment by the support team, should meet the same quality as the development standards.

Your employees know the importance of creating quality RPA solutions and the automated solution shines as a result. When outsourcing, you need to take the same commitment to quality and extend it to your third-party vendor.

Solution: When you are searching for a third-party vendor to provide production support, you need to find an outsourcing partner that is as committed to quality as you are. The ideal solution is to find a third-party vendor that can follow your RPA development standards and best practices and provide any feedback on improvements. A reputable vendor will be able to provide you with a workforce that integrates seamlessly with your current team and provide the same quality of work, as you would expect from your developers.

Once the automated process has been deployed into production, there can be many changes made to the configuration by the support team to ensure that the automated process is operational & optimized. One of the main advantages of finding a vendor that can follow your development standards and best practices is that when your developers need to make a major change to the RPA solution, they will be able to easily follow the RPA solution and make the change efficiently.

Risk: Hidden Costs

Outsourcing saves organizations money. However, if those savings come with hidden costs, then the benefit is completely lost. When selecting an outsourcing partner, you need to have full transparency on costs. Some vendors may have hidden fees for things such as charges for out of hours support, maintenance of the automated solutions, training, and monitoring.

Solution: During contract negotiations, ensure that all of your expected services are highlighted and carefully read for any extra charges. Ensure that you have read the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as this can drastically reduce the number of service costs. The SLA will cover the service provided, guarantees, contract length, and maintenance procedures by the outsourcing vendor.

Risk: Loss of Knowledge and Know-how

Having a separate offshore team managing the automated solutions in production can prevent continuous feedback to the developers, or vice-versa. By not having this, the support team will continue fixing any bugs, and the developers could be making the same mistakes which will continue to cause downtime on your critical automated business processes.

Solution: Having a support team that works collaboratively with your development team ensures that processes are being developed efficiently and can be effectively supported. A continuous feedback loop will enable lessons to be learnt from processes handed over to support and be incorporated into the development of automated solutions. When choosing an outsourcing partner, validate the general plans that they have in place for this type of activity as this will allow you to see a decrease in exceptions, reduce support activities, and shorten the path of your deployed RPA solutions to a steady state.

Risk: Time Difference

When outsourcing production support offshore, you should remember that
your vendors are in a different time zone. For organizations in Europe, the time
difference may not be that noticeable; but for US-based organizations, the time
difference can be substantial. Some of your processes that have been
automated, can be business critical processes and if there are defects found or
your RPA solution is not working entirely, then you could be waiting until the
next morning for the issue to be resolved by the offshore team.

Solution: Reputable vendors take time differences into account and can
provide services during your business hours or have a 24/7 operation, with
local specialists working in shifts. With this solution, you can mitigate the risk
and turn the risk into an advantage, since the organization can benefit from a
24/7 professional support operation, regardless of your geographical location.

Risk: Time Difference

When outsourcing production support offshore, you should remember that your vendors are in a different time zone. For organizations in Europe, the time difference may not be that noticeable; but for US-based organizations, the time difference can be substantial. Some of your processes that have been automated, can be business critical processes and if there are defects found or your RPA solution is not working entirely, then you could be waiting until the next morning for the issue to be resolved by the offshore team.

Solution: Reputable vendors take time differences into account and can provide services during your business hours or have a 24/7 operation, with local specialists working in shifts. With this solution, you can mitigate the risk and turn the risk into an advantage, since the organization can benefit from a 24/7 professional support operation, regardless of your geographical location.

Risk: Finding the right outsourcing partner

Finding a flexible partner can be difficult, your selected outsourcing vendor must be flexible enough to serve any urgent requirements or problems whenever they arise. They should be able to cater to your needs, whether it is BPO, RPA, or even customer service. As your organization scales its efforts to reduce operational costs in this current climate, outsourcing will enable your organization to grow, be efficient, and get a competitive edge with your competitors, without huge costs.

With organizations moving towards digital transformation and heavily investing in technologies like RPA day by day, it is important that they have a support & maintenance plan in place to ensure that the robots are operational at all times. You can now outsource the support & maintenance of these robots to a trusted vendor, so that you can see a better return on investment, without worrying about maintaining your robots or your digital workforce.

Innovative solutions are meant to be disruptive and along with their benefits come risks. Having a realistic view of RPA and preparing for such risks mitigation can make a big difference in reaching its maximum potential.

Need help in planning and delivering a successful RPA initiative in your organization?
We can help! Contact us for a call with our RPA experts today.

Need help in planning and delivering a successful RPA initiative in your organization? We can help! Contact us for a call with our RPA experts today.

To find out more about RPA & talking about
it confidently within your organisation,
download our E-Book now.

To find out more about RPA & talking about it confidently within your organisation,
download our E-Book now.

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