The first day of executing automation is very exciting. Everything works. The design is intuitive. Every user on the team can operate and navigate the system with ease – Much like the excitement of driving home a brand-new car. What happens in the months and years to follow is similar too. Every car requires routine servicing and needs to be checked before harsh weather. And even while you are enjoying your drive on cruise control, you need to make necessary adjustments based on terrain changes. The same is the case with process automation. Maintenance-free Bots are a myth! Forrester, in a research report, found that 45% of companies suffer bot breakages on a weekly basis. And over 60% of these failures led to interrupted customer service, lower productivity, and impacted revenues. Bots require ongoing maintenance and support. The continuous evolution of app UIs, while necessary to deliver compelling experiences, interrupts how bots function. There could be regulations or policy changes that affect how the bot operates. And no matter how meticulously organizations plan their automation, they might miss out on requirements. The induced downtime costs organizations hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Building World-Class Process Automation Maintenance
In a recent research report, Deloitte stated that 53% of organizations surveyed had implemented RPA, but only 3% have been able to scale their automation. As organizations that have started their automation journey look to scale it, maintenance becomes crucial.
While building a maintenance team, organizations must keep in mind the following.
- Maintenance cannot be allocated to business users: You could possibly fix a flat tire, but beyond that, you need a skilled technician to fix your car. Process automation involves performing complex or large tasks that dabble through multiple applications, handle massive amounts of data, and render them for desirable output. Therefore, automation maintenance needs specific skills. Making changes to bot operations will need deep technical expertise to ensure that the changes made to bots do not impact the perfectly running process. This is the reason why maintenance specialists should be among the most experienced developers in the organization. In addition, once organizations have deployed automation, most of the personnel are re-assigned to perform other value tasks. This is why there is a need for a dedicated team for maintenance.
- Planning automation maintenance teams: Applications go through changes – like adding a superior interface, addressing previous issues, or new business requirements. These changes are typically communicated to the team through memos and refresher training courses equipping them for changes and servicing the tasks. Similarly, for automation, the team needs to be well trained on the changes to the user interface, procedures, and protocols.
- Relying on a partner: Organizations that have implemented automated initiatives without taking into consideration a maintenance team always have the option to train or hire technicians with relevant experience. Or, they could turn towards partners who bring in experience and scale. Like when you have problems with your car, it’s a smart move to bring in outside help who have spent thousands of hours fixing the same types of problems.
An Example Illustrating SLK’s Expertise in Process Automation Maintenance
Let’s take the case of a mid-size bank that had over 70+ automations that were built by citizen and automation developers and were struggling with assured processing. This led to the automation team battling failing bots rather than focusing on building new solutions. They brought in SLK as a partner to solve the problem. While we did address the burning issues by meticulously cleansing and stabilizing the automation, we did much more than that. We leveraged our resources and experience in Banking Automation units to standardize and build consistency into design practices and implemented a governance practice to ascertain design, usage of resources, and error handling. The bank was able to stabilize its operations and establish an Automation Run Center that, subsequently, will rationalize the automation and deliver better output with lesser bots.
Be it partnering with a third-party provider or building an in-house maintenance team; to be successful in the long-run, organizations must build bot resilience with a team that is skilled and has the necessary expertise to carry out maintenance activities to ensure business continuity.
Authored by Gireesh Ullody