The Operational Handbook
What is an Operational Handbook?
An Operational Handbook is a document which is populated by the RPA team ahead of a process automation moving into production. It normally forms part of the release sign-off and handover into support.
What is included in an Operational Handbook?
There are a number of elements you may wish to include in your Operational Handbook. Below is a list of the most common items:
- High level process description
- Priority of process
- Target applications and their support contacts
- Process Owner within the business and their contact details
- Business Continuity
- Link to PDD, SDD and FRQ
- Start-up parameters
- List of pages
- List of processes
- List of Objects
Tip: Automate the collation of object names, pages etc… to minimise time spent producing the Handbook.
Why is an Operational Handbook important?
There are a number of benefits to an Operational Handbook including:
Knowledge transfer: Whether training new team members or simply sharing knowledge across the existing team, the handbook provides all the key information someone needs to successfully maintain a production process. Should the developers who built the automation move on, all relevant details of the process are centrally held and accessible to all. There is no single point of failure.
Faster resolution of issues: Those responsible for resolving incidents relating to production processes have all relevant information provided to them in an easy to read 'one-stop-shop' of information. It also means that in some cases first line support can resolve incidents before escalating to higher cost resources. Therefore the Operational Handbook can help minimise support costs.
Ensure business continuity: Any issue which may lead to a Digital Worker being unable to perform a process means that the work will not be performed. However, processes still need to continue to avoid any negative impact to the business. The Operational Handbook will provide easy reference for the business continuity plan so any impact is minimsed and business areas can perform the work while service is restored.
Minimise impact of change: Maintaining an easily searchable and accessible list of processes and their related Target Applications and components, allows for faster impact assessment for any planned, or indeed unplanned, change.
Essential for scalability: The Operational Handbook ensures that all team members have the knowledge they need for each process and are not reliant on particular people's tacit knowledge. Knowledge management is essential to being able to scale by ensuring all required information is explicitly recorded in an accessible format.
The Operational Handbook can be maintained in a number of formats such as Word and Excel. However, a more effective approach is the use of a wiki which is easier to maintain and to navigate, although there may, of course, be additional costs involved.
Whichever format is selected, we recommend that a standardised approach is taken to completing the handbook so that it can be easily read by the relevant stakeholders and all required information is captured effectively.
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