Foundation: Service Model
The purpose of this foundation is to provide your RPA team with the steps to effectively deploy, support and manage your operational processes. Working with the development team and the business to ensure that the digital workforce is integrated with their human co-workers. Here we provide guidance on how to define the management, reporting, scheduling and referral handling processes for business as usual (BAU).
Once processes are deployed, the digital workforce operates as instructed with oversight being provided by the Process Controllers. The Process Controllers should have a defined communication channel and associated Service Level Agreements in place with the relevant support functions to provide maximum processing time availability and straight-through processing rates.
We provide more detail on the key elements of the Service Foundation:
Who is responsible?
System/Infrastructure Support: All underlying application issues are managed and resolved by IT. Even if they are ultimately resolved by third party providers. Normally a ticket is raised according to existing organisational standards within their ITSM tool and handled by the appropriate application support team.
Product Support: Blue Prism technical product issues are raised to and resolved by the Blue Prism Customer Support service.
Process Support: Process automation issues are handled and resolved by the RPA team. They are normally identified by Process Controllers and passed on to Developers where necessary. Below is a breakdown of some of the specific support areas an RPA capability should consider:
The RPA team is responsible for testing and promoting new automations into production.
Operational (BAU) resources handle process scenarios which are out of scope of the automation. These are often referred to as Business Exceptions. There will be certain scenarios identified which require the digital workforce to hand off to a human.
This should be a deliberate and controlled hand-off process that provides the operational resource with the relevant information to pick up the case from the digital workforce. Once the case has been investigated it can either be completed by the human referral team or passed back to the digital workforce.
It is important to note that hand-offs are ideally automated. For example, flagged to a human operator via email or a workflow tool. This minimises the impact on the Control Room team.
Developers handle unexpected scenarios where the solution doesn’t perform as designed. These are often referred to as System Exceptions. Exceptions may also happen when the digital workforce encounters something that hasn't yet been defined in the process documentation.
If the digital workforce encounters a lot of exceptions over a short timeframe they can be configured to stop.
If you have a large deployment you will often find it is the digital workforce that serve as an early warning should there be any unanticipated issues in production applications. Whatever the root cause of an exception it's important that the Process Controllers understand Blue Prism. This will allow them to determine the correct way to channel the exception.
Process Controllers manage the workload and demand for the Digital Workforce. Within business operations, Process Controllers will be responsible for scheduling and managing the demand for the digital workforce. The Process Controllers will decide which processes are going to be deployed at any given time and how much work is prioritised across the digital workforce.
Failover, resilience and disaster recovery is provided via infrastructure teams. Another key component is the provision of business continuity. This means providing recovery and back-up if either the primary data centre or any given application goes down.
Support Policy Agreement
The agreement should consist of the following:
BAU Support Policy
- First line support: Typically, the Process Controllers will be the first line of support for any process issues. They will be contacted about operational queries/issues regarding adherence to processing SLAs, ad-hoc MI reports and so on.
- Second line support: This will normally be the Process Developers. They will undertake more detailed analysis of process issues and implement fixes where required.
- Third line support: Blue Prism Customer Support provide the last line of support. This should be invoked in the event of a Blue Prism product issue or a process related issue that cannot be resolved by the Process Developers.
The operational departments, for whom processes have been automated, should provide support around working business exceptions and identifying process refinements.
In the policy, ensure:
- it is defined how business exceptions are channelled to the operational department. For example, emails or the use of a workflow tool
- the operations team will provide subject matter experts (SME's) to define new processes/amendments as required
- the operational department will act as the owner for the business process alerting the RPA team to process changes
- the contingency is well documented in case of any infrastructure failure.
IT Infrastructure Support
The IT platform will be required to support the Blue Prism processes delivered by the incumbent IT department and aligns with the corporate strategic platform. The support for this infrastructure follows standard company practice.
In the policy, ensure it:
- adheres to current corporate strategy, and that the support now relates to digital workers. If a digital worker cannot work, then the contingency plan will be invoked
- determines if additional or current SLAs need to be reviewed for RPA to ensure they meet the requirements of a digital workforce. For example, if the digital workers work 24/7, these hours may not be covered in existing SLAs
- determines the support mechanism for getting IT support. What is the current strategy for a human worker? Is it going to be the same for a digital worker?
Blue Prism Support
Blue Prism Customer Support is committed to building an engaged customer base by providing the best possible Customer Support. We want to ensure our customers have successful deployments of their digital workforce using the Blue Prism product.
This Portal provides customers access to additional documentation including Data Sheets, Release notes and Product documentation, Software downloads and knowledge-base articles. Before logging an incident with Blue Prism Customer Support, we recommend you will have performed some fault finding and investigation to try and reproduce and correct the problem.
- Ensuring that the protocols for supporting production processes are scalable as the RPA capability grows
- Define the mechanisms and tools to use within the RPA team to extract the information when required
- Consider other tools to help with reporting requirements if necessary to help with reporting on exceptions
- Ensure Process Controller(s) are in place as part of the Operational Support model
- Define the role and responsibilities of the Process Controller(s) within the model
- Ensure the relevant and pertinent training required for a Process Controller is provided
- Define the key roles and responsibilities required within the Support Model reviewing Blue Prisms recommended roles
- Ensure a segregation of duties exists where dedicated Blue Prism Controllers are in place to monitor production
- Complete a checklist of the roles and artefacts you need to establish a successful, scalable Service Model
- Continual reviewing of the necessary roles and responsibilities is required to ensure for growth and scale
- Ensure Process Analysts perform the Support Analysts training modules
- Ensure the sufficient training is made available to all key roles within the Operational Support Model
- Ensure that a documented Blue Prism support agreement exists and is reviewed at regular intervals.
- Record incidents with Blue Prism Customer Support using the proper protocols.
- Ensure a documented IT support policy is in place and is reviewed regularly
- Define in the Support agreement that should be in place for how to engage the RPA delivery team
- Ensure the support agreements are regularly reviewed by all key stakeholders for the most recent policies
- Determine if names are used in the documents, that equivalent people are also included
- Ensure well documented contingency plans are carried out for each productionized process that is deployed
- Well documented plans are required including how the exceptions are to be worked
- Define in the plans in the worst-case scenarios where the Blue Prism environment is out, what are the failover plans?
- Ensure the failover plan is documented and shared amongst all key stakeholder and relevant areas of the business
- Determine agreement for the documents plans and policies and subsequent sign offs are captured
- Frequently conduct reviews of the plans and policies to ensure they are the most frequent plans
- Ensure that a deployment control policy exists that determines what the policies are to deploy into production
- Ensure the documented policy has been shared with the key stakeholders and signed off agreement is in place
- Determine which environments are covered within the deployment control policy
- Capture and define the approval procedure of who this action belongs to and how they sign off is requested
- Define how releases are documented, requested and validated by the RPA team before a release is deployed
- Determine who has the permissions to deploy a release into any environment and document this control mechanism
- Ensure a formally agreed and signed off Disaster Recovery process is in place to invoke DR
- Define within the policy how Disaster Recovery will be invoked ensuring the procedure is agreed and signed off
- The engagement process is well documented and has been shared amongst the relevant people and business areas
- Ensure continual testing of invoking DR is carried out and it is regularly scheduled in case one day it is required
- Determine the intervals and frequency of DR testing is carried out and documented in the policy
- Communicate and make visible the DR policy document to all relevant parties
Check out our Service FAQs page for those questions we hear most regularly.