L&W RPA Use Case “Sustain & Support”

There’s a great variety of innovative and brilliant RPA products available, but realising the full potential of these tools requires the skill and creativity of capable, well trained individuals to properly develop, deploy and operate effective solutions.

Once deployed, RPA solutions must be managed and optimised to ensure delivery of long-term performance and benefit, and whether this is provided internally or externally, the need for ongoing monitoring, support and maintenance doesn’t end after the first robots go-live.

Although RPA is non-invasive and much easier and faster to deploy, a proactive approach to managing ongoing support and maintenance is advisable. Nearly all operational issues which robots encounter will relate specifically to the IT environment and the various systems the robots interact with. This means that vendor RPA license and support arrangements, for the most part will not solve 99% of problems related to the solution deployed. This will instead be the responsibility of the RPA team or your RPA deployment partner.

The need for support can arise at any time during the automation journey for any number of reasons, so the RPA support process needs to cater for all eventualities at any stage of the journey, and ideally, the RPA Governance Framework will included the following sustaining elements:

  • Monitoring, Maintenance & Support
    Most RPA vendors typically have one major release per year and maybe 2-4 minor releases, so updating these correctly without impacting your deployed solutions is critical, especially if a suitable development environment isn’t available for testing. The support process should monitor performance and operation of the robots to handle any unforeseen environmental changes affecting the robots running. The process should accurately and quickly detect the correct the source of any issues and deploy a rapid solution. Issues can stem from a variety of sources including an RPA software defect or bug, the IT infrastructure itself, external websites and internal systems (ERP, CRM, etc.) or simply a coding error. The RPA team will need to locate the source of an incident efficiently so the robots are back up and running as quickly as possible and implement workarounds if a known product issue can’t be fixed in the immediate term.

  • Changes, Optimisations, Enhancements & Modifications

    The RPA governance methodology ought to incorporate ongoing learning and feedback into the automation sustaining service to identify and deploy enhancements to the robotic process and ensure the robotic workforce is deployed to business priorities as required.

    As processes or systems internally are changed or modified, the robotic processes often need to follow suit and be adapted accordingly. Some changes may not even be planned or controllable, such as external websites which may change without warning, and may temporarily impact the correct operation of the robot, unless a proactive solution support framework is in place.

Building automations in the most robust way possible applying best practices is of course the best course of action to minimise ongoing support and maintenance, but there will always be factors beyond the control of the robotic process infrastructure. One common example of this are externally controlled systems, such as websites and hosted solutions (CRM, ERP). When developing automations make sure selectors are robust enough that if a screen element changes, the robot won’t just stop working.

When the underlying code, content or naming conventions are changed, these can cause run errors for robots, as they won’t be able to locate the missing data points. In these circumstances, a proactive monitoring and support framework is invaluable in quickly identifying and resolving the issue or ensuring that system owners provide release notes prior to deploying into the production system, so that the necessary changes can be made to the automation code beforehand.

Contact Lawrence & Wedlock if you’d like to find out more about RPA Sustain and Support strategies.

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