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The Risks of Unmonitored Automations

If your enterprise is serious about maintaining a successful automation program then you already know that the RPA journey doesn’t end after bot deployment. In order for your program to be strong and scalable and for your bots to continue performing at their highest output, automation monitoring should be the backbone of your RPA practice. Monitoring – defined technically as the process of ensuring that every automation in production completes successfully, allows an organization to see when bots are experiencing errors, what those errors are, and how to assess the damage of those errors to find an appropriate solution.

Bot monitoring can also help an organization ensure its scheduled processes run on time; alert the business of any errors, delays, or failures; and can assist in optimizing bot schedules. If an enterprise is not monitoring its automations, it could be missing critical issues that will lead to costly automation failures, downtime, and lost resources.

The business impact of these issues should not be underestimated. Let’s walk through a few common issues a business could easily miss if their automations are running unmonitored.

Business Scenario: Bot Not Logging Any Messages – An automation may run into an issue while running but not log any error messages. This most often happens when there is an unpredicted popup on the machine like an Excel issue, an Outlook issue, or an applications issue. Because these unexpected popups are difficult to account for when developing the automation, a bot may freeze up at this point in the process without logging any messages. If the automation is not being monitored, the bot can remain frozen for hours, even days, before a user notices.

Business Scenario: Unclear Error Messages – If a bot does throw an error, the user might not understand where the bot is having issues or whether or not the bot is able to continue executing the process. The encryption of log messages can be unclear to users who have not been trained in bot monitoring practices; these users are often unable to determine what type of fix the bot requires and how urgently the fix is needed.

Business Scenario: Bot Looping – While running, a bot may get stuck in a “loop” in which it repeatedly executes the same step of a process. This is commonly caused by a website or application failing to load, a selector change within the website or application, or a login issue. A bot typically will not throw an error when this happens, and instead may just say “opening application” repeatedly. Without a trained professional monitoring the automation, the average user might not even realize the bot is experiencing any issues.

Business Scenario: False Positives – An automation may finish running and be marked as successful, but the tasks the bot was supposed to carry out were not actually completed. This can happen if there aren’t clearly established success criteria for each process, and can be avoided through a bot monitoring program that establishes clear and specific completion indicators for each automation (indicators can include things like output file generated, success email sent, or completion of all transactions within the processes queue).

With issues like these creating greater business impact as automation scales, having a strong program in place to monitor bot effectiveness is critical to controlling and sustaining an RPA practice. However, many enterprises mistakenly believe they can take a “do it yourself” approach to monitoring using their own internal resources.

This brings great risk to the automation program for two reasons: these employees lack the in-depth monitoring training to determine when something is wrong with an automation and implement the proper solution; and having your organization’s internal team focus their efforts on monitoring takes away valuable resources that could be dedicated to automation analysis and development. For these reasons, it is best to leave automation monitoring in the hands of dedicated experts within a Robotic Operations Center. These teams, through the use of various tools and resources, will bring an organization’s automations up to speed to maximize outcomes while ensuring the program’s operational costs remain manageable.

The Value of Professional Monitoring

An expert-led program will use alert-based monitoring, enabling the automation operation and business teams to plan data-driven next steps in a proactive manner. A strong monitoring program should also cover first level troubleshooting and issue resolution, review common business exceptions, support ad-hoc bot run requests, and be able to coordinate automation platform vendor support when necessary.

Dashboards are one of several key tools used within a ROC monitoring program. They allow the monitoring team to watch one or several bots’ performance in real time to ensure they are making successful transactions, logging relevant information, and completing tasks to meet Service Level Agreements with the business.

By continuously monitoring the bots live in production, teams can evaluate their performance and track their activities with real-time data on any technical exceptions and system faults, allowing the team to respond and resolve issues quickly. Dashboards can also be used in a monitoring program to provide preemptive alerts that notify the user if a bot is running abnormally or slower than usual so the support staff can make minor adjustments to correct the bot before a major error is encountered or the process stops running entirely. This enables the enterprise to prevent automation failures, reduce bot downtime, and increase overall automation program efficiency.

Having a team of trained experts monitor your bots in production also paves the way for process optimization by uncovering critical insights that were not previously visible to the business. It enables greater process transparency, allowing ROC experts to identify points within a process prone to bottlenecks or bot freezes, retrace the bot’s actions, and implement the most effective fix for the issue. Uncovering these opportunities for automation modifications promotes faster error identification and correction, and maximizes the value delivered by each bot.

Ultimately, having a program in place to monitor bot performance is critical to sustaining your automation program. While some businesses believe they can handle their own monitoring, it will be ineffective without adequately trained monitoring professionals overseeing the program. With the proactive monitoring services provided through a Managed ROC, enterprise leaders can find peace of mind and remain confident in the effectiveness of the program and the health of their digital workforce.

Learn more about professional monitoring from our ROC experts.