No doubt RPA is a liberating technology. Liberating in that RPA allows users to automate existing manual processes or create new composite processes that users were traditionally told could not be done, or required unavailable or unaffordable domain specific expertise. RPA is truly a step forward. However, despite RPA’s ability to bridge the integration digital divide, it is by no means magic and successful projects still require the right people, in the right places, doing the right things. Who are these people and what should they be doing to support a successful RPA project? Let’s take a look.
Process Designer. The Process Designer is usually a business user who understands the existing process, the rules of lore and a vision of the desired process. While this role should ultimately be handled by one person for accountability purposes, it is important the Process Designer works closely with all who perform the current process in order to accurately capture the nuances of the process. Understanding and incorporating these nuances can make or break a project. Knowing and understanding that user 1 does something one way, while user 2 does it another way is critical. Ultimately, the Process Designer needs to learn about and understand these nuances and then either institutionalize or consolidate them.
The Process Designer is the keeper of the specification for the RPA project and should be responsible for looping back into the specification feedback and changes made during the development and testing phase. Good RPA products should help facilitate this feedback loop.
Automation Architect. The Automation Architect is the person who actually builds the automation using the RPA tooling. Depending upon the tooling used, this role may or may not require developer level expertise. While many RPA vendors like to tout that their automation studios do not require programming expertise, don’t kid yourself. If you’re looking to automate a process that involves rules and logic (which most worthwhile automations do), it’s requires programming. Whether one is writing syntax or configuring loops and branching in a case tool, it’s programming and the automation architect should have some experience in the discipline.
Production Manager. After a project is tested and rolled into production, it then becomes the responsibility of the Production Manager. The Production Manager is responsible for the following:
a) Ensuring processes are being triggered as intended (“Does the job kick off properly at 1am each night?”)
b) Addressing inline processing bot prompts (e.g. “Invoice amount exceeds PO amount but order is a special order item – reject or accept?”)
c) Handling process exceptions – (e.g. “Invoice was rejected, now what?”)
d) Reporting bugs to the Automation Architect
e) Reviewing analytics and providing process improvement information to the Process Designer
Depending upon the depth and breadth of the automation, more than one person may be responsible for handling some of these functions in production. However, ultimately one person should own the production environment and ensure the tasks are performed properly and looping feedback where appropriate.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with breaking down these high-level functions into more granular chunks and distributing responsibility accordingly. However, don’t over complicate things. One of the main benefits of tactical RPA (which is where most of the action currently is), is speed and agility. Since RPA allows us to streamline existing processes and quickly take advantage of new opportunities, the last thing we want to do is bog these projects down with excessive layers of process.