Automation Pathfinder Program

Blueprint: Winning Plays for all 5 Pillars of Success and Scale

  • 29 September 2022
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Pathfinder Mission Control: The Community’s Complete Book of Plays for Automation Hyperscale

 

Looking for all of the community's winning plays in one place? This is it. These easy-to-use checklists will ensure that your Automation Program moves “Beyond the Bot” to drive business strategy and growth. Think of this as your all-under-one-roof accountability system for your most important automation program priorities.

 

 PROGRAM 

 

This is where you can check the boxes to start, accelerate and scale your automation program from Vision Casting and Environment Set Up through Performance and Delivery Metrics.

 

Develop Compelling Vision and Goals

 

START

  • Conduct workshops, set goals, develop a compelling vision
  • Identify key success metrics for your program
  • Document metrics and targets for success such as number of successful runs or amount of hours saved

 

ACCELERATE

  • Set goals, track progress and define actions to drive your program’s progress forward, such as expanded idea contribution, automation development and delivery and automation consumption

 

SCALE

  • Review and evaluate your previously set goals around driving progress: expanded idea contribution, automation development and delivery and automation consumption

 

Delivery Model

 

START

  • Examine existing change management processes
  • If you have pre-existing internal processes, identify how your automation practice can leverage them

ACCELERATE

  • Standardize the automation delivery process to include existing change management processes, code freeze, sign offs, and production deployments
  • Create sample delivery processes you can leverage if your organization doesn’t have them already

SCALE

  • Identify ways to optimize and automate as much of your delivery process as possible
  • Consider existing pipeline tooling leveraged by your organization

 

Performance Management

 

START

  • Define standard metrics to capture that demonstrate value, such as hours saved, money saved, number of automation runs (create a baseline for future comparison), and percentage of employees enabled by accessing automation
  • Validate the business value that each automation delivers
  • Align performance with your organization’s strategic business objectives

ACCELERATE

  • Consider different delivery metrics for the program including development/delivery time values and metrics on complexity vs delivery
  • Examine process-specific savings metrics like fee/financial penalty avoidance, dollars saved from fewer data errors, and CSAT/employee satisfaction scores
  • Introduce metrics for automation velocity (cycle times)
  • Evaluate automation lifecycle to determine current, ongoing, and forecasted savings
  • Introduce processes and systems, like dashboards, to validate that value from ACTUAL automation executions meets/exceeds forecasted value

SCALE

  • Federate performance management practices out to additional business units so everyone is speaking the same language
  • Automate the process of reporting on consumption/business value metrics
  • Consider additional operational metrics to identify trends such as automation success percentages, automation run count week over week, etc.
  • Implement systems to continuously monitor the value being delivered for your active automations

 

Support Model

 

START

  • Identify areas within your automation development to improve stability and error handling
  • Log instances appropriately when errors occur
  • Consider ways to standardize the format of error logging to aid in future support efforts
  • Ensure documentation for automations points to where to find support logs and automation-specific support tips

ACCELERATE

  • Observe how support for other applications within your organization is handled and replicate where possible
  • Begin with a structure of a dedicated support that is split between automation program support and support of other applications.
  • Consider how your framework can aid in support such as alerts, screenshots, retries, etc.

SCALE

  • Standardize a support model within your organization to include L1, L2+ support, as well as where/when to engage Automation Anywhere
  • In federated development, ensure that things like error handling and machine cleanup are standardized to eliminate ambiguity in how automations are to be supported.

 

 PEOPLE 

 

It’s critical to ensure that your pool of motivated talent learns new automation skills, gets appropriate training and has a compelling career path ahead. Whether you choose online courses, role-based learning trails and/or instructor-led training classes that lead to industry-recognized certifications, a people focus at every phase is a must-do. If you want to pursue Citizen Development efforts, this is another critical area where you want to make sure you have all of the program aspects you need.

 

Product Training and Certifications

 

START

  • Your developers should have an Advanced Developer Certification by this point and, ideally, a Master Certification (if they don't, get their training up to speed)
  • Ensure Business Analysts have been through the Business Analyst Learning trail
  • Ensure Control Room Admins have gone through the CR Admin Learning trail
  • Verify Business Analysts and Developers are building familiarity with “Start” phase solution patterns

ACCELERATE

  • If you’re building enterprise solutions at this point, all Developers should have a Master Certification
  • Developers should explore IQ Bot Developer Learning Trails if they will be taking on IDP-related use cases
  • Verify Business Analysts and Developers are getting familiar with the solution patterns in the “Accelerate Phase."

SCALE

  • If you are launching a Citizen Developer program, put your Citizen Developers through Citizen Developer Basics and practitioner Learning Trails, in preparation for Co-Development
  • Verify Business Analysts and Developers are building familiarity with “Scale Phase” solution patterns
  • Developers are taking AARI Developer learning trail if they will be taking on AARI-related use cases

 

Competency Frameworks and Career Progression

 

START

ACCELERATE

  • Develop a competency matrix to identify competencies needed, who in your organization has them, any gaps, and who shows interest in various areas
  • Establish performance standards for CoE roles so you have a benchmark for what constitutes great performance

SCALE

  • Continue to evaluate staff based on your CoE performance standards
  • Use those standards for goal setting and re-evaluate as needed
  • Support your CoE resources team(s) as they navigate through the competency matrix to reach their career aspirations (Python, JavaScript, Machine Learning, Scrum, FIQ, Business Analysis, etc.)

 

Citizen Development Enablement

 

ACCELERATE

  • Identify motivated talent and Automation Champions who are interested in contributing to your automation program
  • Consider Business Analysis as a Stage 1 involvement
  • Direct motivated individuals to training materials designed for Citizen Developers

SCALE

  • Utilize Citizen Developers as a lever for scale in expanding the value delivered through an automation program
  • Provide templates, guidance, an internal community, and co-development opportunities to support individuals getting up to speed
  • Consider a “licensed operator” model where a user can start with training and progress through co-development to independent contribution

 

 PIPELINE 

 

Automation is not a one hit wonder. Starting from your very first wins, you should be thinking about where to automate next. That’s what it takes to mature your automation program efforts into a successful enterprise-wide program. From start to hyperscale, these Pipeline pillar checklists ensure that your team captures, assesses, approves and prioritizes automation opportunities. They’re the backbone of any healthy Automation Program.

 

Process Discovery

 

START

  • Establish a one-on-one partnership with a key stakeholder in a line of business, making them your “Line of Business Best Friend” (LOBBF)--someone with keen insight into how you both, as a team, can use automation to transform their business
  • Crowdsource your initial process discovery through meetings from key stakeholders, operations, teams, and process analysts

ACCELERATE

  • Consider using Fortress IQ (FIQ) to expand beyond simple process review and ensure you’re targeting the highest ROI use cases
  • Expand your crowdsourcing efforts to include automation opportunities from additional business units

SCALE

  • Federate the use of FIQ into various business units to best understand end to end and highly complex inefficiencies that can be automated across the organization

 

Managing a Pipeline

 

START

  • Consider requirements for how you could prioritize diverse use cases across the organization–their financial impact, risk, alignment with your organization’s goals, complexity, etc.

ACCELERATE

  • Implement a prioritization approach across the pipeline criteria you validated in the Start phase, comparing apples to apples (this will enable the evaluation of opportunities across functional areas)

SCALE

  • Determine how you'll continue to advance and deliver on your pipeline Define criteria for delivery channel
  • Figure out if a centralized governance body in the form of a CoE will take over the management and care of filling the pipeline
  • Adopt a “federated” model if that makes the most sense to keep a robust pipeline filled with successful automation projects

 

Use Case Assessment

 

START

  • Consult the Automation Anywhere-provided Complexity Calculator to assess feasibility and ROI across use cases
  • Focus on Quick Win use cases first (to demonstrate value fast) and build stakeholder trust and excitement
  • Focus on “Start” phase solution patterns: Low Complexity, Low Risk, Medium + Benefit

ACCELERATE

  • Focus on “Start Phase” and “Accelerate Phase” solution patterns for automation delivery
  • Begin to take on slightly more complex automation assuming med-high benefit
  • Customize the Complexity Calculator as needed to meet your specific ends

SCALE

  • Broaden your focus to “Start,” “Accelerate,” and “Scale Phase” solution patterns for automation delivery
  • Explore ways to enable users to interact more closely with automations as you continue to deliver more use cases

 

 PRODUCTION 

 

In this phase, your developers develop, test and deliver automations. Use these checklists to ensure that these critical components are fit to start, accelerate and then scale.

 

Automation Development

 

START

  • Start with quick wins to build momentum
  • Define initial development standards and best practices
  • Standardize naming for automations, subtasks and variables
  • Review Automation Anywhere’s Bot Design Guidelines and Standards

ACCELERATE

  • Adopt a simple framework based on development standards
  • Review Automation Anywhere solution pattern frameworks
  • Focus on Developing for Reusability to future development
  • Standardize your automation development lifecycle (documentation, testing, change management, etc)

SCALE

  • Manage and improve frameworks
  • Expand development to include additional programming languages
  • Mature in your use of solution pattern modeling frameworks
  • Leverage additional technologies for mature automations - IDP, ML, AARI

 

Complimentary Technologies

 

START

  • Where possible, focus on leveraging out-of-box packages from Automation Anywhere to build quick win automations
  • In many cases, reaching for a scripting language may not be necessary if you’re familiar with all of the in-built packages and actions

ACCELERATE

  • Define standards for when you will use complimentary tech (ex. VBScript, Python, JavaScript) based on your IT standards
  • Identify what skill gaps may exist that need to be addressed among your developers
  • Define criteria for how decisions will be made when there are multiple options to solve with automation

SCALE

  • Emphasize reusability for complementary tech
  • Set standards for what is installed on automation runners (Python specifically and libraries) to support automations run
  • Expand use of complementary tech to explore ML and Data Analysis capabilities

 

Automation Design

 

START

  • Review Automation Anywhere-provided design document templates (SDD)
  • Review existing document repositories (Confluence, Sharepoint, etc) for storing automation documentation

ACCELERATE

  • Implement standard documenting automation designs
  • Identify and communicate the CoE's role in design reviews

SCALE

  • Track compliance to design review practices
  • Consider design quality as an employee performance factor
  • Standardize design process to solution frameworks

 

Intelligent Document Processing

 

ACCELERATE

  • Expand your “suitable automation opportunities” to include the processing of documents
  • Prioritize use cases where pre-built and/or pre-trained extraction templates can be used, such as with invoices

SCALE

  • Explore use cases where custom and non-standard form types can be leveraged to automate document processing
  • Leverage document classification and human-in-the-loop processing to continuously improve on straight through processing rates

 

 PROMOTION 

 

The growth of your automation program is based on successfully delivering automation and how effectively you communicate that success. Other benefits of a solid Promotion and Engagement strategy include higher quality pipeline ideation, thus greater business impact. Intentional marketing efforts are also essential when you are ready to launch a Citizen Development program and “Community of Practice” for practitioners. The other critical outcomes from a dedicated Promotion strategy? You spread “Automation FOMO” across your organization, driving growth into new lines of business, and continued program investment from even more executive sponsors.

 

Marketing and Evangelism Strategy

 

START

  • Create content such as a video or blog post highlighting automation delivery and business value
  • Share your video or blog post on your organization’s intranet to create interest in and momentum for your automation program

ACCELERATE

  • As new lines of business onboard to your automation program, encourage them to create promotional assets (videos/blog write ups) about their first wins
  • Continue telling inspiring stories of business impact for big wins (this builds even more program momentum)
  • Start to identify Automation Champions you can partner with in different Lines of Business for additional awareness efforts

SCALE

  • Consider a “Job Board” where each delivered automation has a profile highlighting their skills or capabilities, their manager or business owner, their department, and a fun video or text description of the work they do
  • Refer people to this job board to learn more about automation capabilities, and how they can hire a digital employee

 

Executive Sponsorship

 

START

  • Create a “Pitch Deck” for your automation program
  • Include the vision for your automation program, it’s intended impact on the business, and key program metrics (outcomes)
  • Consider specific asks of your Pitch Deck audience that can help accelerate your program

ACCELERATE

  • Refresh your Automation Program Pitch Deck quarterly to include updated metrics validating your program’s success
  • Consider using your pitch deck to explore new lines of business for automation opportunities

SCALE

  • Establish a regular cadence for keeping leadership informed and engaged with the success of the program
  • Ask for executive help expanding the automation vision to the entire organization
  • Partner with leaders in different business areas to establish upskilling or reskilling programs to support Citizen Development

 

Build an Internal Community of Practice

 

START

  • Establish a community of developers and automation creators to share tips and give or receive help

ACCELERATE

  • Expand this community to new developers (if you're moving to federated development)
  • Ask community members to share interesting automation builds, or reusable assets

SCALE

  • Expand this community to Citizen Developers (if you're moving to a Citizen Development model)
  • Encourage paired programming and other mentorship models to help get new users up to speed

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