When implementing RPA in your organisation, it’s important to remember that robots, though they can perform autonomously, still need to be managed & monitored.

This role is fulfilled by the Process Controller.

The main role of a Process Controller is to maintain live automated solutions. When a warning pops up, the controller is the first to react and decides if and how to escalate the problem. They analyse the issue and either fix it themselves or summarize the problem and pass it on to a developer. In parallel, they keep the business informed.

The responsibilities of the job can be summarized in 4 main categories.

Resolving Issues

You always need to detect an issue before you can fix it. This means that Process Controllers continuously observe runs and robot performance to spot any anomaly. Most automation tools provide a control room and/or logs to be able to perform this task efficiently.

Based on various logs and indicators, the Controllers can understand what the robot has done and whether the cases have been treated successfully.

For complex issues, this can imply a deep dive into logs, comparing runtimes with historic data,  and analysing the behaviour of queues.

Once the root cause has been identified, the Controller has two options.

If the issue is minor or the solution is straightforward (an application or resource restart, fixing input files,…), they can attempt to solve the issue.  If the issue is more complex, they transfer the case to the Incident Manager who dispatches it to Developers, often through a ticketing tool.

Maintaining a stable and efficient environment

Most RPA tools work with licenses which allow a certain capacity of work. It is the controller’s job to optimize the usage of these licenses through critically evaluating the scheduling of processes. This evaluation seeks to ensure that each process allows enough time for all cases to be treated and that linked processes are done sequentially.

As an example, say process A usually runs between 2-4 pm, and process B runs after completion of process B, generally from 4-6 pm. After 6 PM, one of the applications involved is no longer available and work ceases.

Due to a seasonal event, the amount of cases that process A processes increases and the runtime increases, with the process often terminating at 5:30 pm.

Any Process Controller worth his salt can already tell: process B isn’t gonna be finished in time and cases will remain untreated. By setting process A’s start time earlier, the problem is avoided.

Reporting

When RPA initiatives increase within an organisation, one of the issues that arise is how to verify the quality and results of automated processes. Even when the exception handling for a process is perfectly executed, one needs an overview to see what type of issues are emerging and whether the process is performing as requested. In a similar manner, KPI’s can also be used to track robot performance.

It can be a role of the Process Controller to assist in defining and maintaining these indicators to ensure that they reflect reality.

Communication

The RPA Controller will also have an important part to play with regards to communication amongst different stakeholders when RPA initiatives increase.

Controllers should regularly be in touch with Developers, Business Analysts, the IT department, various business departments and middle management.

A good Controller is proactive in sharing relevant information with these different stakeholders.

Conclusion

As you can see, a Controller’s role is more varied than you might think and crucial to the long-term success of any RPA initiative.

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