Over the past few years, automation has taken hold as a preferred method to drive efficiency and reduce manual toil across the federal landscape. As organizations increasingly adopt automation, they must determine how to scale.
An enterprise automation strategy demands an enterprise-ready implementation methodology. My recommendation is an implementation methodology focused on the Robotic Operations Center (ROC)—a unified approach to achieve strategic outcomes with automation at scale. The ROC includes experts who design and develop automations as well as operational personnel who manage both automation platform and automations deployed to those platforms.
The ROC is supported as required by enterprise subject matter experts (SMEs) from business mission and IT areas. They support automation implementations throughout the lifecycle, not just in the design stage.
The five reasons
Here are five reasons enterprises should apply the ROC-based approach as their automation implementation methodology:
1. Increase ROI through automation expertise: Consistent implementation practices across an enterprise and centralization of investment are essential to achieve anticipated ROI. The ROC provides this necessary consistency and centralization. Enterprises typically experience high demand for automation after initial successful pilots. The ROC is scalable to the needs of the enterprise and can be staffed to accommodate increasing enterprise demand.
2. Centralize backlog prioritization: An enterprise automation strategy enables implementation across lines of business, or even across geographies. However, when agencies evaluate automation scenarios where business SMEs are accessible, they can unintentionally create distributed implementations and high overall costs.
The ROC encourages creation of a centralized backlog of automation scenarios collected from assessments across lines of business and geographies. Business owners can prioritize this backlog with a view toward mission excellence across the enterprise. With an enterprise view, the organization can tailor the ROC for economies of scale. ROI calculations become tangible, so the organization can meet or exceed expectations in both productivity gains and quality of business operations.
3. Make teams accountable: The ROC team structure—teams of business and automation experts advised as needed by mission and enterprise IT experts—is supported by a Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed (RACI) chart. The chart informs teams of their responsibilities across automation tasks, distributes accountability for them and enhances communication among stakeholders. The ROC structure and accountability pattern enables tracking of automation implementations and course corrections when required, leading to success and high ROI.
4. Design and implement for efficient operations: The ROC provides automation experts who keep efficient operations in mind during design and development. Effective automation design includes platform managed runtime configurations. Definition and utilization of configurations—such as enterprise web application URLs, email notification destinations, file system locations, etc.—are essential to successful automation operations. Automation developers create configurable process-specific metadata including business rules that can change over time, reference data, exception handling, retry behavior, etc. The ROC makes operations personnel accountable for provisioning this metadata to automation processes in collaboration with business owners.
5. Establish a sturdy cybersecurity posture: Appropriate credentialing of robots and assignment of enterprise roles are necessary for a secure automation implementation. Automation platforms integrate out of the box with secure enterprise password vaults, which are essential for credential management. Within the ROC, automation operations personnel are accountable for provisioning and maintaining robotic credentials in enterprise password vaults.
Complying with least privileges in a ROC
Robots may be assigned different automations with the credentials necessary to perform each. However, provisioning too many roles to robots violates the NIST 800-123 principle of least privileges and exposes the enterprise to cybersecurity risk.
The ROC engages cybersecurity experts to design separation of concerns among robots. Moreover, established enterprise cybersecurity strategies like multi-factor authentication may prove too restrictive when onboarding robots. Cybersecurity experts assist in creating mitigating strategies applicable to robots in a sturdy cybersecurity posture.
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