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Chapter 1

Intelligent Automation & RPA Lifecycle Stages

RPA Lifecycle

Enterprises need better workflows made simpler, with consistent builds and accessible development. And with an established robotics process automation (RPA) lifecycle management procedure, your enterprise can reliably create, test and maintain automations across the organization.

Automation helps enterprises increase their return on investment (ROI) by lowering overall labor costs and asserting value aligned with your overall vision. With RPA and intelligent automation (IA), your enterprise can increase efficiency with data extraction, migration and entry, with report generation, invoices, emails, CRM, testing, management and so on. And with an RPA Lifecycle Management step-by-step development phase, automation is easier than ever.

What is intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation (IA) is a cognitive automation technology utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to transform enterprises end-to-end by optimizing processes, simplifying workflow and returning better value to the business.

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a method IA for automating business processes using digital workers. RPA has various practical applications to streamline processes and reduce bottlenecks. It deploys intelligent software robots, or digital workers, to automate manual and repetitive tasks using cognitive automation technology and freeing up human employees for higher-value work.

RPA reduces the cost of labor, streamlines process flow, increases hours back to the business and improves customer and employee satisfaction. Enterprise transformation can start with RPA, and intelligent automation hosts a range of solutions for a total reimagining of how work is done.

What is RPA Lifecycle Management?

The robotic process automation (RPA) lifecycle is how automation is delivered and executed, consisting of all the phases a bot goes through: identifying a process candidate to automate, deploying the bot into production and monitoring it afterward.

RPA lifecycle management is how each stage of a bot’s life is managed so it’s always delivering the best possible value to the business. It gives a framework for process automation and ensures each stage of RPA delivery is assessed so its performance can continually be improved.

Automation lifecycle management

The SS&C | Blue Prism® Automation Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a scalable operating model for designing automations, made for enterprises ready to automate using RPA and intelligent automation (IA). ALM uses the power Wireframer and reusable templates to help you design better quality automations for your business processes quickly while simplifying complex tasks and time-consuming process definition activities.

Benefits of Automation Lifecycle Management

RPA lifecycle management, or ALM as we call it, brings instant benefits to an organization’s automation journey, from customer and employee experience to better return on investment (ROI). The top advantages of SS&C Blue Prism’s ALM include:

  • A toolkit for quality automations. You get the best practices and insights from our dedicated automation designers and enterprise customers.
  • Less design time. ALM gives you reusable, pre-designed templates and workflows so you can create proven, enterprise-grade automations to meet your business goals faster. ALM cuts your automation design time by up to 70%.
  • Built-in management capabilities. You can simplify complex and time-consuming process definition activities and track progress, all from an easy-to-use business user interface.
  • Define what you need for success. ALM lets you easily define business objects and actions to create more consistent automations.

The Five Key Stages of the RPA Lifecycle

Implementations of automation into the lifecycle must be done correctly from start to finish. The main areas of consideration for successful RPA lifecycle automation are discovery, design, development, testing and deployment.

Each foundation has different steps that need to be performed for the RPA lifecycle phases to be successful:

1 – Discovery Phase

The process discovery phase is crucial in the RPA lifecycle, where the process architect analyzes your requirements and which business process steps you’d like automated. Based on this information, the process architect decides whether those processes can be automated. If they can, the architect determines the complexity of that process and any potential benefits to be gained. This stage is focused on information gathering and idea formation.

2 – Design Phase

The design phase is where you decide on a potential candidate for automation and based on your set criteria, choose which processes you will start with. Remember to only automate processes aligned with your and your organization’s automation vision.

The technical architect will work together with the process architect as an analyst team, whose roles in this phase are to determine the technical feasibility of the automation.

Once you have your prioritized automation pipeline in place, it’s time to sit down with the process SME to understand the current as-is process roles in more detail — ideally at a keystroke level. The process architect will create a Process Definition Document (PDD) based on the details captured, then get a sign-off from the SME.

A PDD helps visualize the flow of processes and understand the roles and requirements for each step of an automation before jumping into the building phases. This is also where your automation tools, operating systems, production systems and digital workforce platform are chosen to complete your task.

3 – Development Phase

In the development phase, the PDD will be reviewed to understand the as-is development lifecycle using automation analytics. Then a Solution Design Document (SDD) is created to define the to-be automation process. Essentially, the documents used in the development lifecycle are automation scripts with instructions for your digital workforce.

The to-be process could be a like-for-like comparison of the as-is process, depending on the requirements; generally, the SDD will include redesigned step-by-step instructions that a digital worker can understand.

Once the SDD has been signed off, it will be used as a reference for your development team as your RPA builders for this new automation workflow. Your developers will use RPA tools to create the bots you’re going to use.

4 – Testing Phase

This is a critical phase in the RPA implementation lifecycle. In the testing phase, a developed bot is tested by a testing team or your development team. The software bot is set in a pre-production environment, then moves into the next stage if successful. If testing fails, then rather than moving to the next stage, the bot goes back to the development process phase, where errors are identified, repaired and tested again.

The unit, integration and system testing are conducted to ensure your bots work as intended before giving them to the process SME to complete the user acceptance tests (UAT). Once UAT has been successfully completed and signed off, the automation deployment process can begin in the production environment.

5 – Deployment Phase

With the bots tested and approved, the RPA deployment and maintenance phase can begin. Once automations are deployed, the digital workforce operates as instructed, with oversight provided by the process controllers in the centralized control room. If there are any automation errors with the bot, it returns to the development and testing team pre-production environments to resolve the issues.

There’s usually a period of hyper-care once an automation is initially deployed, where the process controllers, who have access controls to the bots, keep an eye on the automation. Once they’re happy the automation is working as expected, the bots will be continually monitored and analyzed for optimizing potential.

The process controllers should have a communication channel and associated Service Level Agreements (SLAs), with the relevant business requirements and IT support functions in place to ensure they meet the agreed service level expectations.

It’s crucial to have change management revisiting your automations to ensure they still meet the needs of the business. You might think you only need to provide support when it’s needed—but really, you should be constantly assessing whether your automations still provide the right benefit back to the business.

The Future of Lifecycle Management

Intelligent automation and RPA can completely transform your lifecycle management. RPA Lifecycle Management helps you create quality, standardized end-to-end automations for your enterprise faster with pre-designed templates and built-in management capabilities.

It’s not just about simplifying processes. It’s about establishing streamlined workflows reliably, robustly and consistently. And with IA, your automations grow with your enterprise.


About the Author

Alexis Veenendaal

Alexis Veenendaal is an Associate Content Writer and Editor at SS&C Blue Prism. She’ll tell you all the cool tips and tricks for implementing intelligent automation into your workplace. She has lived and worked internationally as a professional writer and designer for nearly a decade after graduating from the University of Lethbridge for English Literature. Her personal pursuits include authoring books and digital cartography.

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Next: Chapter 2

How To Implement RPA & IA in 6 Steps

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