By this point in the journey for your Automation Practice, you’ve partnered with at least one new line of business for the delivery of new automations. Regardless of whether that delivery came by way of your core automation practice doing the design and delivery or you empowered this new line of business to be somewhat independent, the lessons learned and the momentum gained for the expansion of automation across your organization can empower the next leg of expansion within your organization. Let’s look at some keys to systematically scale your automation initiatives as you continue to expand.
A Systematic Onboarding Approach
Key to expanding your automation efforts to be organization-wide is systematically onboarding new “factories” to your automation practice. As you worked with onboarding your first few lines of business in the Accelerate phase, reflect back on the things that helped this onboarding process to go more smoothly, as well as those things that seemed to confuse/detract from this new team’s time to value. Many of the best practices, templates, and guidance provided in other competencies of this journey will be crucial to a smooth, timely, and effective onboarding.
- Identification - The process of onboarding additional federated teams (factories) starts with identification. What makes for a good federated group? Who should be onboarded as a factory vs one-off automation opportunities? Only your team can truly answer this question, but some items for consideration:
- Is this an area of the business where there’s potential for a large pipeline of automation opportunities?
- Is this a functional team that can be empowered to deliver their own automations or would they be relying on the resources of the core automation team?
- Can service providers or Automation Anywhere partners help to fill a gap here?
- Does the core Automation Practice team have the capacity to onboard a new factory (this includes being able to guide and educate as they deliver their first few automations)?
- Training - Everyone has to start somewhere, either through internally developed resources, Automation Anywhere University, Automation Anywhere partner-led training, or some combination of these. Take note of the courses and materials that help get people up to speed most effectively. Make recommendations for how new developers/teams should follow a path to most quickly learn the skills needed to begin effectively delivering.
- Pro Tip: Consider a process similar to gaining a driver's license for contributors to earn the ability to begin developing and delivering automations. This may include going through a set number of training courses, co-developing with an experienced developer for a certain amount of hours, more regular code reviews at the start, etc.
- Best Practices - Maintenance, updates, support, and code reviews all go the smoothest when we’re all “speaking the same language.” Provide easy-to-follow guidance and sample automations that demonstrate best practices in automation development that all automations should adhere to. This goes hand in hand with training, as learning the development/documentation best practices from the start makes for a much smoother onboarding.
- Pro Tip: It's important that such guidance be easy to understand, easy to follow, and not an overwhelming burden for people to get started. Consider those most important aspects of best practices that should be followed with clear examples for each.
- Design, Documentation, and Delivery - Navigating through proper automation design, documentation, testing, sign-off, change request, and delivery can be a daunting task. As you onboard new factories and new automation designers, be cognizant of the fact that they may come from varying degrees of technical/development backgrounds. With that consideration in mind, in what ways can your automation practice provide clear guidance of the expectations for each step of this automation development process to ensure individuals in this team are creating the assets needed, while ideally making this process of design to delivery as smooth/straightforward as possible?
- Pro Tip: Consider a systematic approach of co-developing and co-delivering the first few use cases for a newly onboarded line of business. This will provide the guidance needed to ensure that automations are being accurately developed, documented appropriately, tested thoroughly, and delivered successfully through the defined change management process.
Conclusion & Actionable Takeaways
While this may feel like a lot for your first few onboarded factories, as you learn from each onboarding, take time to identify what is or isn’t working to efficiently get them up to speed. Fine tune the process as you perfect the onboarding process. Ultimately, you’ll want to get to the point where it's a smooth, repetitive, and proven process to get teams up to speed and aligned with the momentum already generated by your growing automation practice. The more refined your processes are, the more reusable assets you can make available to them, and the larger the “user community” you can surround them with, the smoother this onboarding process will become.
- As you identify potential factories to onboard, reflect back on automation champions you’ve identified across various teams within the organization. These may be the individuals who have been eagerly waiting for the opportunity to engage with your Automation Practice in a greater way.
- Work with your first few onboarded teams to define, refine, and publish the requirements to become a “licensed contributor.” The obvious balance for the organization is that those who are closest to processes can be the most effective at automating them, but that needs to be balanced with not putting customer data and systems at unnecessary risk due to a lack of training/oversight.
- Automation reviews should be strongly enforced for their first automations to ensure they’re following the established best practices.
- Best Practices may seem minute, but the reality is that they help to ensure consistent development and quality in automations regardless of who is building the bot. Publish, refine, and socialize the best practices that bot builders are expected to follow in your organization. These enforced best practices, combined with your published bot framework/shell, should expedite the development and review process.
- Publish templates that users are expected to use in support of their automation development and delivery. Make it clear where documents should be published, how they should be authored, and at what intervals updates are required. Templates enable much of this process to be repetitive moving from automation to automation, and should reduce the manual work required by any bot builder.
- Continue to socialize and promote the benefits of the automation program to grow your number of onboarded functional teams. As you onboard your first few federated teams, it will become a much more streamlined process and will be less of a burden on the automation program team.