The Secret to Scaling Automation: Citizen Development
Automation has become a critical component of the enterprise digital transformation strategy. Businesses have realized large gains in efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings by automating repetitive tasks across the front office and back office. The businesses that are ahead of the curve have created a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) center of excellence (CoE)—a team dedicated to digital transformation activities— that usually resides in the IT department.
To deploy automation, IT often starts by gathering information from the people who work in the front and back offices, in particular, the business users. The goal is to learn how the business processes work, who is involved, when exceptions occur, and how to handle them. That research can take a lot of time, and it can require strong collaboration, which in many cases doesn’t happen. And all that can lead to a long backlog of automation projects and frustration.
Solving the problem with citizen developers
Backlog and frustration can be significantly reduced by transforming business users into citizen developers. By their number, those users represent the greatest potential resource to scale up an operation and help an enterprise make the most of digital transformation quickly and efficiently. With minimal training and low- or no-code tools, business users can build RPA bots to automate their work processes and solve challenges to increase their productivity.
Business users are closer to the problem they wish to solve than anyone else. They’re the experts on the processes that need to be followed, how the tools are used to complete the process, and the exceptions that need to be handled.
How to leverage citizen developers as an asset
Low- and no-code tools make it possible for anyone to be a developer. The trick for IT teams is to leverage those citizen developers while ensuring quality, security, and consistency. And that’s where a CoE can help.
In a federated, citizen-led operating model, the COE becomes the global head of RPA that institutionalizes standards and maintains global governance and reporting. The COE trains local teams to take on functional or regional bot development and management. These local COEs, sometimes called bot factories, enable employees to run or create bots.
This is the citizen development operating model. Alignment and collaboration between IT and the business are critical.
The global COE provides the guardrails for all RPA activity, including policies, sanctioned tools, bot shells, best practices, and documentation. Citizen developers can then drive their own bot development, including discovering processes suitable for automation, building bots from bot shells and other pre-built automation, and work with the COE to finalize the bot for deployment. The global COE still monitors automation across the organization.
Benefits of citizen development
Leveraging the expertise of business users to build their own automation expands your RPA efforts exponentially, speeding project delivery, alleviating backlogs, improving the productivity of every employee globally across the enterprise, and increasing return on investment (ROI). By removing mundane tasks, employees can achieve their goals faster and refocus on more challenging work, which improves their morale. Creating citizen developers also allows enterprises to better leverage departmental institutional knowledge and distribute bot development and management.
Citizen development, when governance is federated, makes it possible to scale with confidence. Professional developers will always be a small portion of your overall talent pool, so helping citizen developers become self-sufficient is the logical next step in your RPA journey. By providing rules of engagement, monitoring all aspects of bot development, and steering progress towards quality and coverage, the CoE can refocus on automation that helps to drive your digital transformation to reach your most critical corporate goals.
Citizen development is the key to unlocking all of the value that automation and digital transformation have to offer. And Automation Anywhere, with our intelligent RPA solutions, can help you succeed.