Thursday, May 30, 2019

Guerilla Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

The automation of business processes with the help of "robotic" tools is perceived as a way for increasing operational speed and lowering errors while simultaneously reducing costs. However, the introduction of RPA tools may be hampered by convoluted approval process and security issues. In result, introduction of a robot can take forever. No wonder, some groups inside a company may decide to handle the automatization challenge individually. Python often becomes the tool of choice. With extensive general purpose functionality and simple syntax, creating scripts in Python is relatively easy and fast. Especially in comparison to the time needed for the implementation of company-sponsored system solutions. Even if such homebrew scripts may not be perfect from the beginning, they can be modified fast, without the pain connected with getting a dozen approvals.
One may correctly say, there is a huge, uncontrolled risk connected with such guerilla automatization. 

But the company may easily offer solutions that assure the security without stopping the bottom-up automatization movement. The first step is hosting all scripts in a central repository. It is important to limit rules connected with such hosting. The repository should be presented as a way for sharing knowledge between sometimes remote groups inside the company. Additionally, the code in the repository allows its review by a central team tasked with assuring stability and security. When some issues are identified, script authors may be contacted with a suggestion of changes.

In this way, the company takes advantage of the employee's desire to make the work easier and their creativity, instead of slowing the process to a crawl.