While interacting with many organizations, we have observed a misconception about what it means to have a Robotic Operating Center of Excellence (ROC) and its relationship to governance, which is the combination of structure, policy, and procedures that define how you will operate.
While a ROC is a good way to ensure there is a formal structure to govern your program, it is not a replacement for well-conceived governance. It is simply a formal way to manage a Robotics Process Automation (RPA) program. We have seen some organizations struggle with onerous and bureaucratic processes and policies, and a heavy focus on status reporting. Based on the volume of detailed status reporting, documented policies, procedures, and methodologies, these programs seem very well thought out. However, the results may be less impressive.
Although a highly regimented program might seem superior, a low-friction governance structure that balances between delivery and formality, with a focus on adapting to the needs of the stakeholders, might be what your organization needs. Governance - with its balance of guidance, tools, processes, policy, and delivery - is like having a good set of guardrails that ensures your organization stays on the road to RPA success.
Here, we continue our series of key considerations when scaling your RPA program.
Governance1. Develop a roadmap that includes maturing your governance tools and processes.
As you scale, we advise clients to consider how their tools and processes will need to evolve in order to adequately support the demands of a large program. These processes and tools will need to grow, adapt and improve to support your program across the organization. You might consider implementing a use case management system that will provide structure, standard fit and value questions, and a workflow so you can maintain governance compliance and consistency. Later, you might find it important to have an automated dashboard to track bots and business value. You can easily start without a dashboard, but as demand increases while scaling your program, be sure to have a roadmap for tools and governance processes to avoid falling behind.
2. Traditional Compliance activities still matter.
Programs such as SOX and HIPPA will need to consider the impact of RPA. Build your governance process to take traditional business policy and regulatory compliance into account. For example, work with your internal audit team to include RPA in their broader compliance testing plans. If the cost of non-compliance is high, ensure you have the appropriate milestones and artifacts built into your Robotics Development Lifecycle (RDLC) which will ensure that bots are built without introducing new risks, and that the work they perform is compliant, transparent, and can easily sustain an audit.
3. Governance may need to be adapted to work in the larger organization.
What works on a small scale will hit a limit as demand increases. As the program grows, set expectations with the broader organization regarding RPA developer productivity and engagement. One example of this is to have a policy allocating RPA developer licenses that looks at the value and volume of bots being developed.
Another area where you may need to adapt is use case evaluation. The goal here is to ensure you see value in each proposed bot that is developed, and that all of the important considerations, milestones, artifacts, and approvals are obtained. Early on, it is fine to hold a meeting twice a month with all the stakeholders to review new requests for bots. However, as the volume of bot requests grows, this can quickly become too demanding. This is where formalizing the use case review around a defined set of criteria, and following a development lifecycle with appropriate checkpoints and milestones, will ensure that you can maintain the same level of quality and compliance you had when each use case was thoroughly reviewed by the same set of key stakeholders.
4. You will benefit from having a central team responsible for developing tools that aid RPA.
Left alone, two creative RPA developers will create different solutions to the same need. Scale this across 20 or 200 developers, and you can see the problems that can arise from ignoring standard tools for common issues. Whatever processes you choose to automate, there will be a number of common tasks your bots will need to perform, recurring problems developers will encounter, and common tools process owners will need in order to manage their bots. Proactively planning for this need can save tremendous effort when spread across your organization.
Reusable tools will make the delivery of automation easier to achieve by providing standard solutions to the things developers and process owners need to do, which has significant benefits across governance, compliance, and risk mitigation. One example is requiring developers to manage bot credentials in a credential vault and developing an approved method for accessing them. This will provide you with an opportunity to more easily scrutinize the code to ensure that there are no security vulnerabilities.
5. Iron out processes prior to scaling.
Make sure you test your processes before rolling them out to the entire organization. Success of your program is highly dependent on people’s willingness to see the value of RPA and believe it will personally benefit them. When you roll out a program that is poorly executed or fails to take into account the basic needs of stakeholders, you run the risk of losing credibility with this important group. If the process of implementing automation is difficult, people will become disengaged, lose interest, and feel the benefits of automation are not worth the pain of getting through your governance process. A critical component of ironing out processes is communication. Ensure you develop a communications plan letting people know what to expect, and collect feedback from them so you can make any adjustments while rolling out your program to the broader organization.