Robotic process automation (RPA) is about automating work. Successful RPA is automating work at Scale.
Automating at scale means running automations across the entire business and having those automations quickly adapt and continue to work through unexpected changes—a dreamy, well-oiled machine bringing value without worry.
However, before living in that promised land (automation at scale) there are practical steps to actually building the automations—the mapping of all the clicks, all the logins, and all the automation decisions that make your business run. Essentially you have to teach your Digital Workforce what to do.
Reaching your automation promised land(and staying there) relies heavily on your ability to teach a Digital Workforce, how to do something once and build that knowledge into many different scenarios, involving many different people and Digital Workers—without friction and with confidence. That knowledge should become a building block that can be used throughout your business making building and maintaining automations faster and more standardized. Simple Reusability within your RPA platform is how this is accomplished.
Before we move forward, let me further clarify reusability in RPA with a more literal example.
Say you have a Sales Process with 3 steps:
- Read a Purchase Order (PO)
- Look up some data in Excel
- Submits PO to SAP
Each one of those steps provides some functionality that isn’t unique to this one process. Plenty of processes read POs. Hundreds of processes use Excel, and, of course, many other processes use SAP.
With Reusability, instead of recreating each of those parts for every single time you need to use Excel or SAP, automation components can be created once and reused in any process where they’re needed.
It’s easy to understand why reusability is beneficial and critical for scaling: employees and process designers can draw on each other's work effortlessly, making automation building highly efficient.
However, the devil is in the details. Reusability is not simply the ability to copy something from here and paste it there. Effective of reusability is determined by the foundational mechanisms that enable the functionality.
To that end there are four guiding principles that can be used to optimize Reusability:
The principles that Reusability rely on are: Modularity, Malleability, Single Source of Truth and Version Control.
Modularity—meaning you create automations brick-by-brick rather than all once. Instead of automating a process all in one go, it’s broken apart into logical blocks that can be snapped together.
And those blocks need to be able to evolve just as any business does. Which bring us to the second principle:
Malleability—meaning automations, and individual blocks, can be changed and updated without needing to re-write everything. Imagine introducing 2- factor authentication to your sign-on process. It should be easy to add this step by modifying one of the aforementioned modules, rather than rebuilding the automation from the ground up.
Maintaining a Single Source of Truth—meaning automation components should be managed centrally, from one location. This way, when something needs to be changed, it only needs to be changed once and everywhere it’s used gets updated automatically. This makes maintenance a breeze.
And lastly, that single source of truth needs strict:
Version Controls—meaning the ability to make changes but still see what the automation looked like in every previous instance, as well as know who made the changes and when.
These principles, taken together, offer guidance for building automation with true Reusability and the potential to scale your Digital Workforce. They lay a foundation for efficiency and building automations with confidence. Organizations should be asking their RPA providers how they adhere to these principles.
Reusability in practice.
Different RPA platforms approach Reusability in different ways. With many platforms, these principles may be referenced and paid lip-service to, but in reality, their brand of reusability requires third party applications or serious workarounds and complicated design methodologies.
Unfortunately, this makes reusability confusing for RPA users and often means their platform of choice is missing some critical maintenance and audit functionality. These types of deficiencies become more apparent and burdensome as the scope and scale of the automations expand.
Blue Prism’s approach to Reusability is simple: modular automation with automatic library-wide updates and no additional technology plug-ins needed.
In order to establish a modular approach to automation building at Blue Prism, we built our process automation design studio around Business Objects. As I will outline below, this approach is intuitively scalable, maintainable, and auditable.
Business Objects are the automation components that handle the detailed work of interacting with different applications. They are the modular pieces, the building blocks, that are used to create larger, end-to-end processes. Business Objects are centrally managed right in the platform providing a single source of truth to all your processes with full auditing capabilities (i.e., version control).
Created with graphical tools, not code, these business objects can be built by anyone—specifically, subject matter expects who understand your business and the applications your business relies on (not just coders and IT). The business objects they create, will be easily accessible and can be leveraged by the whole organization.
All Blue Prism Business Objects are reusable. So, whether an object is created by you, a colleague, a consulting firm you’re working with, or even downloaded from the Digital Exchange, many different Blue Prism processes can use the same business object.
Blue Prism’s design paradigm utilizing a hierarchy of Objects, Actions & Processes is entirely unique. It enables easy reuse of components in a scalable, maintainable, and auditable way, that is integrated directly into the Blue Prism platform. Not only is it the most efficient way to build and maintain automations, it carries the added benefit of making the expertise distributed in your organization available to all who are building process designs.
Large digital transformations are powered by collaboration and contributions by all parts of the business. Blue Prism’s intuitive approach to Reusability is by far the most strategic and efficient way to scale your Digital Workforce across the enterprise.
Learn more about our reusability by joining an interactive live demo at Blueprism.com/demo. We’ll show you how Blue Prism’s connected-RPA platform works and answer your questions live.