How to make an Agile Approach to Software Automation Work
Software Robots development differs from traditional software and product development significantly. However basic Agile principles can be borrowed and applied to produce the same outcome: delivering value faster while reducing costs and exposure to risk.
Every principle of an Agile Scrum framework cannot be followed blindly. The processes are not products and cannot be developed and deployed in the same manner. However, there are various elements of an Agile Scrum approach that can provide undeniable dividends for the companies with the foresight to employ them to accelerate, scale and develop software robots.
An Agile approach contains a dedicated team of different stakeholders working closely together that includes developers, testers, and business personas. This not only reinforces the effectiveness in identifying opportunities, but also facilitates governance at scale as a dedicated team can better manage and coordinate automated processes that impact different parts of the business and operations.
Design and Definition
In an Agile approach to Automation, business processes are designed and optimized before any development begins. This allows large organizations to fully standardize and optimize end-to-end, complex, and multi-layered business processes where the real Return On Investment automation resides. It also provides them the opportunity to consider and tie those processes to larger business objectives and enterprise or regulatory constraints, policies, and controls.
Automating basic, tactical processes is much simpler but also delivers significantly lower returns of value in the long run. The major hurdle impeding software robots is automating the more complex processes and ensuring regulatory compliance transparently and effectively. An approach that promotes upfront definition and design to ensure optimization and regulatory compliance is something that has greatly allowed willing enterprises to overcome that challenge.
Maintaining a Backlog
To scale robots must get bigger and more intricate, and a scrum backlog gives you the ability to slice complex, end-to-end processes into multiple stories and prioritize them independently as a backlog.
A backlog is also key to efficiently manage software maintenance, i.e. having many robots and change always occurring around them, maintenance work can consume the backlog and smother new items that deliver value and innovation. An organized approach to prioritization is crucial.
Sprint Planning and Retrospectives
Instead of being tied to a timeline that’s defined at the beginning of a project, planning short bursts or sprints of work affords teams the ability to re-prioritize work should issues arise that need to be addressed, instead of the alternative: realizing something is amiss at the end of a project causing rework and increased costs as a result.
Sprint retrospectives also give teams the ability to take the lessons learned as work has progressed and bake them into their entire RPA effort to avoid committing the same errors downstream and implement good practices on the fly.