Scaling an abundance of Bots!

by Tim Dickemann on RPA 11 min
AKOA indoor, at the office in Stockholm

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) provides the possibility to achieve concrete results very quickly. 

Transitioning from scaling one robot to hundreds of them within a variety of different business units and functions can bring forth unexpected challenges that are often disregarded. Starting with a delayed Go-Live can result in the total failure of critical processes if there is a lack of operational support. To compensate, a structured approach is necessary. 

As an IT provider, we at AKOA – Another Kind of Automation – divide the RPA scaling system into 4 core modules: 

Module 1: Identify, analyze, manage processes and pipeline 

Discovery Workshops help identify RPA-suitable processes and can select process candidates to be prioritized for pilot phases according to pre-defined list of requirements. 

Clean process documentation sets the foundation for efficient development and should follow a proven RPA methodology with clear guidelines. The Process Definition Document (PDD) records the actual state, target state and the desired goals for the process to be achieved by RPA. It also shows a detailed sequence of the process to be automated. 

Module 2: Development and Go-Live of Bots 

If in the process development environment there lacks certain facilities like permissions or technical users, the waiting times for project approvals may be prolonged and delay the overall RPA PoCs/project itself. A ramp-up checklist providing an overview of the test steps before initiating the project facilitates coordination between the project team and IT while enabling a clean and efficient start. 

In addition, uniform programming should be adhered to. This prevents mistakes and simplifies cooperation, leading to improved results. Specifying name, design and annotation also makes it possible to quickly familiarize oneself with foreign code and successfully maintain numerous bots through a Center of Excellence. 

The implementation of the code in the live system is dependent on many factors (e.g. accesses, permissions, bot statuses). Again, a comprehensive checklist can help prevent reoccurring delays. Additionally, clear specifications for the to-do's significantly facilitate the Go-live. 

Module 3: IT architecture design and operation 

Ideally, the development environment should be separated from the production environment in order to increase the security and stability of the production environment. In addition, authorizations for the production environment should be severely restricted. Using the management centers integrated in RPA software allows for scaling the RPA infrastructure by central logging, process management, reporting and auditing robot monitoring. 

Module 4: Development of competence center and training 

Like any other system in an organization, robots must be managed (operationally) and maintained (technically). One can imagine robots as real virtual employees. For AKOA, the Robotics-Center-Governance can be divided into 3 parts:

  1. Distribution of roles in the Robotics-Center
    This includes determining and appointing responsibilities like monitoring, incident management and scouting.

  2. Development of automation methods and frameworks
    This ensures the availability of automation resources (e.g. developers, licenses. and the corresponding training in methods and tools of the departments.

  3. Cooperation between the departments
    The department is significantly involved in identifying processes and supporting process analyses. The knowledge and experience of the departmentare of high importance in terms of development, support and maintenance from the technical experts. 

From our experience, the key to success lies in the stringent processing of these 4 modules. With this method, nothing stands in the way of scaling RPA. 


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