Robotic process automation (RPA) platforms and tools have become so powerful and easy to use that it is possible for organizations to become a fully automated enterprise. Partially or fully automating thousands of manual processes enterprise-wide, however, requires a coordinated strategy that engages all of an organization’s departments and – most importantly – includes sophisticated IT management oversight and control.
To understand the need for centralized IT oversight, look no further than the “shadow IT” challenges companies have encountered in recent years. With the ready availability of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, individual departments were suddenly able to create and access applications and technologies without any IT department involvement or awareness. In many companies, the SaaS deployment free-for-all resulted in siloed IT operations that were difficult to manage, interconnect, or secure.
Companies soon learned that the ideal model for SaaS adoption was one that engaged both the business units and the organization’s IT department from the start. The same is true for organizations embarking on the road to extensive process automation.
The needs of business units can and should influence the priority and timing of different automations, and power users can even build their own process automations with today’s low-code/no-code RPA tools. Nonetheless, the IT department should have enterprise-wide visibility and control over the end-to-end automation activity.
To this end, organizations would be well advised to establish an automation center of excellence (CoE) at the beginning of their RPA journeys. An automation CoE brings together the technical and business experts required to collaboratively create an automation strategy. Among other tasks, these experts can identify preferred RPA products and services, establish and teach automation best practices, and set requirements to prioritize, track, and manage potential and in-process automations.
This last item – the management of the automation lifecycle – requires the creation of an “automation pipeline.” With an automation pipeline, candidate automations can be identified; prioritized; tracked through development, testing, and approval phases; and ultimately implemented and maintained.
Proposals for automations can come from IT experts, business managers, and employees themselves, as well as from sophisticated process mining tools. Meanwhile, some analytics tools can even help organizations visualize and project automation ROIs, helping to prioritize those with the largest and fastest payoffs.
UiPath Automation Hub illustrates the type of functionality and visibility a comprehensive automation pipeline can deliver. The Automation Hub gives organizations a single location from which managers can view five different categories of automations:
- All – a list of all the ideas and automations across all phases and statuses.
- Review – a list containing the ideas and automations waiting to be reviewed.
- Decision Pipeline – a list containing ideas and automations waiting for an implementation decision.
- Implementation – a list containing ideas and automations in Analysis, Solution Design, Development, Testing, or Qualification phases, or those having achieved an Approved status.
- Live – a list containing ideas and automations that have been put into production.
UiPath Automation Hub is just one element of the company’s broad portfolio of RPA products, tools, and services. For further information on how Automation Hub can add critical lifecycle capabilities to your automation initiatives, go to https://www.uipath.com/product/automation-hub.