Analyzing the Development Lifecycle of Effective RPAs
by Jacob Ortega, General Business ’21
Through the summer of 2021, the Center for Intelligent Process Automation worked to develop a consistent methodology for conducting process analysis when developing use cases for automation. In my experience in previous projects, our development lifecycle started with meeting with our primary stakeholders. These stakeholders would detail the current state of their process and it was up to our developers and myself to synthesize these details into tangible requirements for our proposed solution. While this method was successful, we quickly realized that this process could be more efficient and thorough, as any missed requirements meant that we had to consume more of our stakeholder’s time to revisit components of their process that were already explained or not explained enough.
At the beginning of June 2021, we submitted our first set of completed automations to the Nichols College IT department for approval and implementation. After a discussion, we realized that we needed to have a standardized process for evaluating, decomposing, identifying, and recommending process improvements to then be implemented in our automated solutions. To develop this methodology, I began to analyze the successes and failures of previous use cases that we had attempted to or successfully automated. Through this, and input from international process analysis experts we developed a set of process documentation templates that could be used by any person working with CIPA to analyze existing process execution, actualize data needs, and synthesize important requirements for successful solution development. Once developed, our team needed to test the methodology, we employed assistance from George Brown College in Toronto to apply the methodology to our existing inventory of automations. From July to the middle of August, I led a team of graduate students at George Brown College that used our methodology to document our inventory of automation concepts. Through their expert opinions, we were able to test and refine a standardized model to be used by CIPA for process analysis.
Currently, the CIPA is continuing to work with our partners at George Brown College to continue to refine this methodology. Through the remainder of this year, I will lead a second team that will continue to review, refine, and provide further recommendations on how we can improve the efforts completed by CIPA and our previous teams. These efforts will prove to further assist students and Center employees who will be educated in data analytics and use process analysis in their work to develop automations. With the results of this work, we will be capable of developing a predictive model for the evaluation of cycle time needed to develop, test, and implement automations for Nichols College and our external partners. Our goal is to provide more automated solutions in less time, which will expose our students to the full scope of software development and will provide more time-saving solutions for our institution and partners.