IT's Secret Weapon

By Dan Ternes posted 12-19-2019 16:56


Person using Blue Prism software

How Blue Prism can amplify IT's contributions to the businesses

Intelligent Automation success - win over the IT department 

When I joined Blue Prism a few years ago and was immersing myself in all-things-BP, I had the great fortune to pick the brains of Brian who'd been the driving force, many years previously, behind the adoption of Blue Prism at his organisation. It was a fabulous introduction into what it takes to be successful with RPA in the real-world and over the course of a free-wheeling conversation I asked Brian what he'd do differently if he had his time over. He had no hesitation to his answer – win over the IT folks much sooner; change their mindset from one of mistrust and hindrance; educate them about Blue Prism credentials as a feasible and pragmatic approach to the integration, automation and process optimisation problem-spaces.

Unfortunately, this mindset of mistrust (usually simply a result of unfamiliarity with RPA) still persists in IT departments. And it is unfortunate because the reality is that, done right (and that's an important qualifier), Blue Prism can be IT's secret weapon and can substantially amplify their already-significant contributions to the businesses they underpin.

Let me walk you through my thinking.

It's become trite to say that every company is a technology company; most of us recognise that technology sits at the heart of all new business models, all disruptive influences and all competitive advantages. So, while opportunities abound for organisations to enhance operational excellence, drive top-line growth, simplify customer journeys and introduce innovation, responsibility for that predominantly falls to an overstretched IT department that lacks the capacity to satisfy the many demands of the front-line business units. Rightly or wrongly, IT gets perceived as the bottleneck throttling transformation. But since inaction is not an option in today's business environment, the front-line turns to Shadow IT to deliver their desired outcomes resulting in the ceding of control and governance, the compromising of architectural principles, and the growth of technical debt. The secret weapon arises from Blue Prism's unique ability to expand IT's capacity by shifting responsibility for solution delivery to the front-line without sacrificing compliance, security, governance or centralised control and without increasing business risk. Where previously IT may have said "No!", now they're able to say "Yes!" and, far from being the bottleneck, they've instead become the hero.

So how do you convince IT that this avenue is open to them?

I think there's a few things they must understand.

  • First, to say that RPA is the next big thing – the next wave of integration technology – is not to say that it replaces or supersedes all previous waves; instead, it sits alongside ESBs and SOAs and APIs and Messaging. So, although Blue Prism may indeed be the secret weapon in the arsenal, it's certainly not the only weapon and IT has the advantage of selecting the most-feasible one for the job considering all the circumstances at hand. We're not advocating a one-size-fits-all policy.

  • Second, there are many circumstances in which the ESB, etc., approach cannot be justified; time – that legacy modernisation project is sufficiently time-consuming that the project delivery schedule is incompatible with the business needs; resources – the necessary technical specialists are already dedicated to higher-priority projects; wastage – the target systems are being retired so expensive investment to optimise short-shelf-life processes is a waste; business case – the ROI doesn't meet the minimum threshold to justify investment. All of which justifies IT's prudence in rejecting a project request, but nevertheless the effect is that business have a problem, believe eliminating that problem would add value to their mission, are searching for solution to that problem, and have been stymied in those efforts by IT. Blue Prism offers IT a lifeline for these innumerable situations.

  • Third, Blue Prism is not technical debt; in fact, the technical debt already exists, and Blue Prism actually serves to help eliminate it! Justifying this assertion in full would make this blog into a lengthy screed (TL/DR!) requiring an examination of everything from Infrastructure Components to Security to the Object/Action/Process paradigm to Segregation of Duties to Credential Management to Non-Repudiation to… the list goes on. So be prepared to explain each of them in great detail to IT! I think Brian's metaphor explains it best. If you have a leaky pipe, you can plug it with some silicone tape, avoiding the nightmare of a flooded basement in the dead of night. However, everyone accepts that this is merely a short-term fix and your first call in the morning is to the plumber – it's technical debt. Unlike most RPA vendors, Blue Prism is not silicone tape! Instead, Blue Prism is the length of new piping, professionally welded in place, substituting for the entire worn section. It's rock-solid, it's recommended by the experts, and it's good for years of hassle-free usage. That's how IT should view Blue Prism.

  • The final part of the "secret weapon" story is one of the most important – freeing up IT resources from the effort of delivering RPA projects. To be clear, IT's challenges lie not with automation capability, but rather with automation capacity. Therefore, when RPA delivery remains solely an IT responsibility, they're simply swapping one headache for another. Anyone hoping to scale RPA must instead enable subject-matter experts from front-line business units to design, build and manage their own processes, and to do so in a way that doesn't permit unfettered control and doesn't diminish IT's security, oversight and governance functions. We all know this to be a unique (literally, unique!) strength of Blue Prism, but having been spun a similar line over the years (I'm looking at you, BPM vendors! And you, Dashboarding vendors! And indeed you, other RPA vendors!), it's understandable that IT is sceptical. Expect to invest considerable time to reshape their thinking as to the correct balance between IT involvement and Business involvement. Once that's accomplished however, IT is rewarded with the option of devoting their specialised, in-demand resources to those projects, many of them transformational, that can really only ever be undertaken by IT.

Let's put it all together.

Blue Prism allows IT to triage the right tool for the right job; to expand the scope of business problems to which they can provide an effective solution; to deliver that solution in a secure, controlled, governed fashion without increasing technical debt; and to free up IT resources by realistically enlisting business units to have responsibility for their own solutions.

That sounds a lot like a secret weapon to me.

What do you think?

#RPAInsights ​#InsideRPA
1 comment


01-07-2020 16:35

Thanks for sharing Dan, very interesting! If anyone has any suggestions for Blog topics they would like to see in the future please post below :)

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