What it takes to Setup a CoE
In my last post I talked about why CoE and where. Today I want to talk about what it takes to set up the CoE. Just to recap, setup the CoE with delivery capabilities and have it execute on real projects that deliver true value to the business. A successful RPA CoE needs to establish three verticals,
- Infrastructure, and
- Operations Management
Governance and Business Continuity are disciplines that run horizontally across these verticals.
Dev Ops: Most organizations have defined standards for tool sets and methodologies for various Dev Op functions such as Collaboration, Source Code Control, Project and Change Management. Sometimes it a matter of identifying the correct platform for the function and some-times the requirements call for implementing new platforms to manage RPA projects. Although RPA platforms do come with some out of the box version and access control functionality, generally it is not sufficient to support continuous integration and thus this requires some work to establish tools and procedures.
Infrastructure and technical setup is another area where enterprises struggle. Initial implementation of RPA seems very easy. Setup a webserver with a SQL server backend with some VDIs and you’re off and running for your pilot. However, scaling this for the enterprise is a whole different ballgame. As the adoption of Automation increases, so does the dependency of the organization on bots. This requires implementation of a well thought out scalable, highly available environment that is segregated to address and enterprise security, regulatory or compliance mandated data and access segregation requirements. This also requires buy in from other parts of the technology organization in order to establish standard builds and guidelines for Bot ID provisioning. Data retention and audit requirements must be addressed to ensure Logs are kept and are reproducible upon request of the auditor
Operations Management is the third vertical where we see organizations requiring help. Most CoEs are run within the technology organization which initially thinks of establishing an operations center akin to the a traditional production support organization. The Digital Workforce demands a somewhat different model. This model requires different skill sets for addressing technical system and infrastructure issues vs business exceptions. Business Operations teams are closely involved in his operations center. Ideally the digital workers and humans should report up to the same operations manager. This mean scheduling and business exception management should be done by operational staff. Thinking through this model and establishing a delineation between IT and business responsibilities becomes critical. Our friend John Slagboom has written a whole thesis on this.
Governance runs across Dev Ops, Infrastructure and the Operations center. You need to establish procedures for how you will manage automation demand across the enterprise, provide a central design and best practice oversight and establish change control procedures.
Lastly, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery requires close coordination with infrastructure teams as well as routine drills. Standard procedures need to be defined with specific roles and responsibilities assigned.
All of this can be daunting. Our customers have done their research. They know that this is an involved process and look to providers like us to guide them through the implementation. We are pragmatic with our approach. We reccomend our clients create a roadmap that gets them to a mature state in gradually evolving stages while continuing to allow them to deliver automation to business units as they establish a fully functional enterprise wide Digital Workforce Operating Model.