A common mistake companies make early in the automation journey is not setting up a clear RPA strategy. Without a clear plan from management, departments and sub-groups within a company will set up different governance models and each development team will organize and store their automations in different formats and locations. What happens then is the RPA program becomes disorganized, causing bottlenecks in the automation request pipeline and delays in implementation. Eventually, the problem escalates, leading to an overall halt of program growth or the decision by management to defund the program all together.

In the early stages of automation, companies should plan to evangelize their RPA goals and set up an automation Center of Excellence (COE). From opportunity assessment to execution and escalation procedures, a COE handles the overall goal and management of automation programs. Without a well-defined governance model to manage the automation infrastructure, promote completed projects to production, and set up a shared location for automation materials, companies find themselves in an up-hill battle they will inevitably lose.

There are various models for RPA deployment and governance; options include federated, centralized, and hybrid models. A centralized model manages the automation program from one main governing body, a federated model also has one governing body however delivery is delegated to each individual business unit; a hybrid model is the combination of the two. Each has its pros and cons, but every organization should know which version will best suit their business needs.

Setting up an automation program for the enterprise requires both a thorough understanding of challenges unique to RPA and expertise in infrastructure/Dev Ops. A COE provides this guidance along with various services such as demand generation and management, process analysis, automation development/configuration, and ongoing maintenance and support. In order to provide these services efficiently, a successful RPA-COE will need to establish three verticals: DevOps, Infrastructure, and an Operations Center. Governance and business continuity should also run horizontally across these verticals to standardize and manage overall operations throughout. A company’s approach to ensure that teams effectively run their automations truly determines the overall success of any program. With proper structure and aligned goals, organizations can avoid risks to their RPA program caused by a lack of a clear strategy.

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