The Design Authority
The primary function of the Design Authority (DA) is to guide the delivery team, advising on how a solution design should consider aspects such as security and risk management, delivery method, testing approach, implementation strategy, BAU operation and maintenance. However despite its name, the DA can and should be involved across the delivery cycle.
The DA should act as adjudicator and guardian of standards and quality, ruling on the delivery team's efforts. Naturally at the design phase, but also during testing and critically, before implementation. Not that the DA needs to micro-manage the delivery team and pore over every detail of their work, but the DA should act as gatekeeper to the various delivery phases, checking on things like scope sign-off, developer peer reviews and testing coverage. Ultimately the purpose of the DA is to ensure quality and prevent poorly thought out designs, badly executed development and inadequately tested solutions making it into production.
Ideally, the DA responsibility should be shared by a group of RPA practitioners, however while the COE is small and immature, the DA role could be performed by an individual expert provided by a Partner or by Blue Prism. And that expert could mentor an individual from the organization to eventually take over.
To meet long-term needs however, the DA should evolve into a body that is able to integrate closely with the policies, strategies and goals of the organization. Aside from an expert in Blue Prism solution design and delivery, the DA body could include representatives such as:
- Business teams
- IT and infrastructure
- Security and compliance
- Target application owners
- Blue Prism control and operations teams
Note that the DA role is unlikely to ever be full time, yet even at the very start of an organization's RPA journey, the discipline of validating designs, developments and implementations should be established early on.
Also note that the Governance Board and the Design Authority are different bodies. The Governance Board rules on what projects to deliver and the Design Authority rules on how a project is delivered.
The DA should host regular meetings to support delivery implementation schedules.
- Provide availability to meet on an ad-hoc/exceptional basis to support exceptional circumstances.
- Engage with delivery teams to review information such as solution requirements and designs, test plans and results, operational readiness and BAU guides etc.
- Complete reviews in a timely manner to avoid negative impact on delivery timelines.
The DA should review all designs and subsequent developments, to ensure the standards and best practices set by the organization, and those recommended by Blue Prism, are met.
- Provide feedback and recommendations to address any gaps or concerns found during reviews.
- Provide final approval or denial on all designs.
- Monitor delivery progress and test results.
- Conduct reviews prior to deployment to check the approved designs have been executed as agreed and implementations are of the highest quality.
The DA should maintain central records of information and provide delivery teams with access and advise how to use the information. For example, records could be kept on:
- Which Blue Prism assets (objects, queues, environment variables etc) each process is dependent on.
- Which external assets (applications, network drives, APIs etc) each process is dependent on.
- Which processes depend on each asset.
- What assets are available to re-use and where they are located.
- Which assets must not be re-used.
- Which resources are used to run each process.
- Which applications are used by each process.
- Which credentials are used where.
Note that depending on the type of data and the version of Blue Prism, not all data may be held in the Blue Prism database. Some information may be best maintained elsewhere, such as in a collaboration tool. Some data may be generated automatically while some may be better kept as a manual document.
Single-Person Design Authority
If the DA is only one person, then that individual should have the following qualities:
- Certification as a Blue Prism Professional Developer and Solution Designer.
- Experience in the Lead Developer and Solution Designer role.
- Experience in Blue Prism best practice.
- Proven experience of delivering solutions in structured environments using standard project management techniques and disciplines.
- The ability to:
- Liaise with senior stakeholders and communicate project progress, issues, risks and solutions in a rational and measured manner.
- Control meetings and focus on achieving its predefined objectives
- Adapt and evolve methodologies and procedures in a controlled manner, to continually improve the delivery and support channels.
- Background in software delivery with excellent client facing skills.
- Experience of managing and motivating a cross discipline team.
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