Recently we wrote about how to proceed to hire a good RPA Developer. Part 2 deals with the decisive role the business analyst plays in RPA projects.
The concept of garbage in, garbage out, has been tied to computer science and algorithm design from the very beginning. The basic idea is that a failure to validate data, requirements and parameters upstream in a process flow will lead to bottlenecks or even a potential failure further down the line. In conclusion, if assumptions are flawed the argument will be fallacious. In the process automation world, if the process selection, pipeline or documentation is flawed the automation journey will be shaky.
Therefore: we need the help of an experienced RPA Business Analyst!
What is an RPA Business Analyst in one sentence?
The RPA business analyst is characterized by process experience and analytical thinking and forms the bridge between the technical teams and the specialist departments in a company’s automation initiative.
What is the role of the RPA Business Analyst?
Process Analysis & Pipeline Management
An RPA Business Analyst (BA) should be the gatekeeper of the process automation pipeline. Through their high-level and deep process analysis, the BA acts as an identifier of potential automation opportunities as well as an explorer of stoppers and obstacles that the development team might face once an automation kicks off.
For example, is an application owner going to pose difficulties to the RPA project because he or she doesn’t see the value in automation? – The BA should spot that!
Does the process of gathering test data triple the time to production, even though the automation in scope seems a no-brainer for development? – The BA should identify that!
As you can tell, the BA should not only be capable of doing a fact-based review of the characteristics of a process in order to assess its suitability for automation. But they also must be able to spot and sense risks and potential benefits “between the lines” that are relevant for a successful automation initiative.
To assist with their process analysis, a BA should build an evaluation model that will effectively prioritize the processes for automation that have the highest positive impact for the RPA strategy over the long run. Because each organization has different drivers of complexity that impact the RPA journey, the BA also needs to revise the model on the go making sure to incorporate lessons learned. While doing this it is important to ensure that the learning curve from the whole RPA program is reflected in the way the RPA pipeline is prioritized.
Process Documentation and Project Management Support
In parallel to this, a Business Analyst is also process-oriented and tech savvy. A BA understands the level of detail that the development team requires to build an automation and can act as bridge between the business and the development teams. They support process documentation, and coordinate test phases, process releases and hyper-care phases.
At the end of the day, a good Business Analyst can spot many potential pitfalls of an RPA process in advance. They can be your silent champion and be the difference between a smooth implementation or a troubled journey.
Who should be the RPA Business Analyst?
Different organizations take different approaches when selecting the right person for the BA role.
Organizations operating in a DevOps framework, expect their developers to be involved simultaneously on the process analysis and build phases of a project. This approach has an inherent risk that the process analysis and documentation are too technically driven. If these stages are too technical, it can potentially harm the close connection to the business units involved.
Organizations that face higher regulatory constraints or with a strong process improvement unit tend to follow a stricter segregation of responsibilities. They typically have collaborators playing the role of BA on a full-time basis. It’s important to note that a full time BA with sufficient technical background can be hard to find and choosing the wrong profile can deeply impact your RPA program.
Regardless of the actual person that ends up taking on the role of Business Analyst, the characteristics to aim for remain unchanged. Beyond a good technical foundation and understanding for processes (and their improvement), the BA needs:
- A good understanding of the business and industry he or she is analysing
- A great level of curiosity and exceptional communication skills
- To be able to ask good questions and have the patience to listen to complicated explanations
- Good analytical skills with the ability to analyse requirements from different angles with clear and logical thinking
- A “zoom-in zoom-out” approach in identifying the best solution, always ensuring that the steps taken are coherent with the program vision.
With all these points in mind, we believe that Business Analysts are the hidden champions of the RPA world and can act as a differentiator in a successful automation program.
We will publish the last part of this series shortly. Stay tuned!