Robotic Process Automation (RPA) life-cycle

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a great tool that allows non-technical people to achieve automation with minimal effort.

RPA uses bots to achieve automation. These bots are available 24/7, capable of attaining minimal to zero rates of error. The return of setting up the bots is attracting more organizations to start investing in RPA by setting up their internal RPA Center of Excellence (CoE).

The life-cycle of a typical RPA project starts at the time when people select processes for automation; the process is then transformed into line of codes in the selected RPA tool, and the point when the codes are deployed in the production environment.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Overview of RPA project life-cycle

The life-cycle phases are hooks to allow you to assess a potential (process) candidate, develop, and deploy the RPA codes. The life-cycle can be broken down into 4 phases:

  1. High-level identification and prioritization (think management approval)
  2. Process solution design (think business requirement)
  3. Development (aka. technical part)
  4. Testing and deployment (think code quality)

At any given moment, your process candidate fells into one of the listed phases. It is possible to have a dedicated person to be in-charge at all of the stages as RPA projects are usually process-based projects and have a shorter timeline.

High-level identification and prioritization

  • Identify potential processes for automation by using the RPA identification and prioritization tool. The tool is used to access the feasibility and urgency to use a bot to automation the selected process
  • role: RPA manager & subject matter expert of process candidate
  • tools & methods: sample criteria in identification tool includes FTE cost savings, system specifications, service level

Process solution design

  • The selected process will be further broken down into screen-based, with detailed documentation of keystroke, mouse clicks, and frequency of window pop-ups. Number of bots allowed to automate the process, frequency of bot trigger should also be defined at this stage before development
  • role: Business analyst
  • Tools & methods: Use user stories to break the process into understandable chunks by the business and technical side. Any potential exceptions should also be documented carefully for development

Development

  • Development of RPA projects can be done in sprints. Developers should always keep in mind about code reusability for future use. In this way, RPA developers will be more efficient as the RPA reusable components grow over time
  • role: RPA Developer
  • tools & methods: Agile methodology — It is typical that certain business requirements are missed out due to mistakes or business user’s unfamiliarity with RPA. Thus, development cycle should be iterated quickly in an agile method so the RPA solution can be improved to meet the needs

Testing & deployment

  • Like any other IT project, RPA needs to go through thorough testing stages before going live. Testing should be explicit enough to avoid situations where the bot malfunction
  • role: Business user (user acceptance testing), developer & IT (deployment)
  • tools & methods: Testing sign-off approval and QA checklist. To ensure that the bots meet with business user’s requirement, business user needs to be involved in testing and review the solution. After the business user approves the solution, IT needs to perform a thorough quality assurance check (code review, documentation readiness) before deployment.

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