Hi, all :)
I have a very challenging task at hand to figure out what would be a successful strategy to go about introducing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to my shared service center. I would not go to details as to what RPA is, since in order to give advice you should be well aware of the subject. We have picked a vendor who has made suggestions to some of my questions, but it would be very comforting to benefit from a third party experience. My 2 main concerns are:
1. Picking the correct processes to automate - for starters I think simple ones are a good idea, since the developers should start simple and then progress to more complex tasks and processes. That's fine, but how simple -> should we go for bottom level tasks like pulling a report or doing small changes to a file and use them in future more complex processes. Or start with a bit more complex ones that require more time and skill. Both seem fine, but I don't know if there are other options available?
2. What would the right IT admin infrastructure look like in a global environment with 5000 employees in 5 countries, 7 locations and 3 continents regarding - servers (local or centralized), bot runners (operations or specialized team), admins (local or centralized), center of knowledge (as a team - centralized or spread out), etc...
Thanks in advance. :)
I think Edi came up with a great answer to your punctual questions. In addition to that, here are some recommendations related to things that you should pay attention to from the very beginning of your RPA journey:
1. Establish a clear RPA governance - it is essential to know from the very beginning who's doing what (we're not only talking about RPA team members roles and responsibilities, but also about the other departments that may and should support you along your journey - e.g. IT Architecture, IT Operational/Support, IT Security, etc.
2. Use a development environment - although you can start developing robots using local machines & databases, it is highly recommended to have a dev environment; this will help your developers to be aligned, to use best practices, to save time and to reduce operational risk when it comes to exporting/importing new packages/releases
3. SMEs experience and availability - make sure to choose carefully the SMEs that you'll need to collaborate with (they must have enough experience to be able to describe in the smallest detail the activity to be automated and they have to assume that they will be available when you need them)
4. Build strong exhaustive testing scenarios - as I was saying, it is very important to work with experienced SMEs, because only with their help you'll be able to define testing scenarios that will cover all the variations of the process that you'll be automating
5. Get stakeholders buy-in - take into account that, most probably, your RPA journey will be mostly based on a process discovery approach rather than an on-demand approach; that being said, you'll have to gain management buy-in by presenting the benefits that automation can bring - as Edi said, the results from PoC should help you with this
6. Improve the processes - if possible, try to improve the as-is process before automating it; also, you should take into consideration that, although GUI-automation approach is promoted and recommended, you can successfully use other capabilities that your automation solution provides (e.g. grab data by running a database query instead of grabbing it from GUI - you'll have a faster automated solution, but IT Architecture should be ok with this approach)
7. Target applications/systems changes - try to find an efficient way to stay informed about changes that are about to appear in your target applications, in the it architecture of your company, etc. (e.g. web pages/sites completely changed, virtual machines/databases moved from a hosting server to another, etc.)
These are just some examples of situations that I needed to deal with so far along my RPA journey. I hope you'll find this info useful.
Good luck ;)