Are You Implementing Robotic Process Automation or Anarchy

We have all heard it said, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) “is easy” or “Anyone can do it”.  That to some extent may be true.  But I can just as easily say that anyone can “perform” brain surgery.  Whether or not you survive the procedure however is dependent on the skill of the surgeon.  The same is true for RPA.  It is not really a matter of whether anyone can do it as much as should everyone be allowed to do it. 

Thomas Jefferson once stated, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing….”  Over the past few years we have seen a bit of a revolution occurring.  Many business groups have been taking back control of their own processes and implementing technologies like RPA to provide improvements.  This is a good thing. The business units should have control and be responsible for their own processes. Some of these have been successful, extoling claims of 400% Return on Investment (ROI).  But, far more have not. Why?  It comes down to something very simple.  Something most of us complain about until such time as it does not exist.  “Governance.”

You may recall a time before such things as change or configuration management where everything operated in a sense of utopia.  Want a server, run to the local computer store and buy one.  Need a new application, we have someone on our team that once developed a website, let them design and write it.  The application was a little wonky, but it served its purpose.  You got everything you wanted, until…

Suddenly someone is calling the help desk telling them an application is down that they desperately need to complete a report for the CEO by the end of the day.  An application they have never heard of, pulling information from a database no one knows about, on a server IT didn’t even know existed.  A “server” that turns out to be, not in the data center, but a computer in some obscure department under someone’s desk who created a database for compiling his own reports, that unbeknownst to him is now being used by 6 other departments (including the aforementioned CEO) to complete tasks within their process.  And he just turned off his computer to go on vacation. (You can’t make this stuff up)

The same thing is now happening with RPA. Instead of processes being improved, bots are being deployed at the speed of code without concern for where or how they are deployed or for what system access they are being given.  We are speeding headlong toward Robotic Process Anarchy.

The “passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint” wrote Alexander Hamilton.  It is true, we don’t like to think of “Governance” as a protection, but in today’s world of GDPR, SOX, HIPAA, and countless other government and industry regulations, we cannot afford (both figurative and literally) not to.  A Center of Excellence for RPA provides such governance. 

Before deploying RPA (automation not anarchy) the CoE will set standards for:

  1. How bots will be used.
  2. Selecting RPA candidates based on organizational strategy and goals.
  3. What technology(ies) will be used.
  4. Training for the appropriate skills.
  5. Ensure Subject Matter Experts are involved from both the LOB and IT.
  6. Defining clear messaging and guidelines for RPA adoption.

As RPA begins to expand within the organization, the CoE will lead routine audits to keep account of how and where RPA is deployed. If a process needs to change to address a new regulatory requirement, they will know where bots are deployed within that process and who needs to be involved in those conversations for update and approval. 

Now back to the original question. Can anyone develop RPA?  Sure. Should anyone be allowed?  NO!  You need to identify and develop the right skills.  For RPA to be successful, you need a CoE to provide direction, order, and governance.  Without it, your “A” will be for Anarchy not Automation.

Click here to find more articles and tools to implement a successful CoE.

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