They’re out there. The director of RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) of one of the world’s largest privately held agricultural companies. The head of HR at a Fortune 100 enterprise. The director of a top global financial services firm. They—and thousands of other enterprises—have successfully applied Automation Anywhere RPA products to automate business processes, cut costs, reduce errors, and improve customer and employee satisfaction.
Changing the world with automation
The world has gone digital and automation has become a critical success factor. Across all industries, enterprises leverage Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate business processes such as insurance claims processing, invoice processing, employee onboarding, support center, account reconciliation, patient outreach and many others. These automated services allow companies to offer their users 24x7 experience with unprecedented levels of accuracy and reliability.
The writing is on the wall. The software robots—bots—are coming. The robotic process automation (RPA) market, just $250 million in 2016, will grow to $2.9 billion by 2021.
The DevOps approach to software engineering has revolutionized release speed by unifying development and operations. It’s quite likely that, today, DevOps principles guide your development team’s processes by providing a framework that enforces continuous integration and deployment. When you develop software with the DevOps approach, you follow a lifecycle of development, testing, acceptance, and production (DTAP). Organizations with large, and especially distributed, development teams have realized significant improvements in their software development lifecycle (SDLC) processes by employing a DevOps approach. That’s why employing the same DevOps approach to development of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bots at enterprise scale just makes sense.
Today, most RPA solutions offer capabilities that let you move bots from one stage in the development lifecycle to the next. Does that mean they support a DevOps approach to bot lifecycle management (BLM)? No. The idea that simply moving bots along the DevOps lifecycle constitutes BLM is a myth. But like many myths, it sounds plausible if you don’t examine it too closely.
DevOps and BLM are not the same
Each stage in the DevOps lifecycle takes place in a separate environment. You develop in one environment and test in another. Production is separate too. So, to manage the lifecycle of a bot, you need to be able to maintain separate environments for bots based on their stage in the lifecycle. And you need to be able to move entire bot packages between the stages.
Let’s say you create bot A, and in order for it to run effectively, bot A depends on individual processes A.1, A.2, and A.3. The bot and its dependencies need to be managed and moved along the bot lifecycle as a package. “Obviously,” you say. But most RPA solutions don’t readily do that—they just import and export the bot between environments that you provide. You manage bot dependencies separately. “Really? That sounds tedious,” you might say. Really. And, yes, as any RPA program manager will tell you, it is quite tedious.
DevOps in a bot development environment
Without a true BLM framework in place, you have to establish and manage your development and test environments. You also have to manage and advance dependencies individually. That might work well when you’re doing a proof of concept for RPA, but it doesn’t scale. The more bots you have to manage using disconnected processes, the longer it takes to get bots into production. Plus, if dependencies get missed, you may find more errors that delay continuous integration and deployment.
Compliance can be an issue, too. For bots touching processes with compliance requirements, such as financial processes covered by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the lack of a true BLM framework forces you to develop and manage your own controls over bots.
Scale with BLM
The BLM framework, that is included in Automation Anywhere Enterprise, does much more than simply import and export bots–it integrates readily with the DevOps workflow. Support for separate development, testing, acceptance, and production environments—including complete version control and roll-back features—comes built-in.
A highly granular role-based access control (RBAC) is another enterprise must-have that underpins security of the Enterprise RPA platform. With granular RBAC, the bots seamlessly transition between stages in the DevOps lifecycle. But what about dependencies? Dependencies transition along with bots. That’s because Automation Anywhere Enterprise manages the entire bot package as part of the bot lifecycle. This control over versions, roles, and bot packages lets you develop more bots faster even when you have stringent compliance requirements. This enables you to scale RPA rapidly across your enterprise and experience higher ROI even faster—a hallmark of a well-crafted enterprise-class RPA strategy.
Request a demo of the Automation Anywhere Enterprise platform today to get a first-hand experience of Bot Lifecycle Management.
Automation is shaping the future of work. Not the distant future, though. The future that is now – tomorrow. Every modern workplace and industry is on the digital transformation journey, making it only a matter of time before every role within enterprise organizations will evolve with automation.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the central technologies changing the face of work – for the better. RPA takes on the burden of manual, repetitive tasks, freeing people to achieve their potential.
But it doesn’t happen by itself. The new digital workforce powered by bots needs humans – people who know how to design, build, manage, and analyze bots and their work and how RPA fits into broader business strategies and execution.