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Why Process Design Documents (PDD) Limit RPA at Scale

3 min read
May 18, 2020 9:00:00 AM

What is PDD in RPA? A Process Design Document (PDD) is a document that captures the flow of a business process to be developed within RPA. It typically contains the process flow and sequence of steps for the current manual (as-is) process as well as the automated (to-be) process, and the various exceptions, conditions and rules of the business process to be automated. Normally authored by a Business Analyst, the PDD is the most common mechanism used in RPA implementations to communicate business processes to be automated and facilitate development.

It’s curious that RPA - which is based on making high-volume, routine operations much more efficient and reliable - uses such an outdated and cumbersome means of communication like the PDD. At a time where efficiency is so accessible via digital, centralized tools that can be integrated within any enterprise architecture, surely there must be a better alternative.

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The Problems with the Process Design Document (PDD)

They Limit Effective Collaboration

Circulating emails with attachments is not an efficient means of collaborating. Siloed, disconnected documents never are; they’re slow, easily lost, and sequential. Work cannot be done concurrently as stakeholders must take turns at gathering all the requirements and context that needs to go into a PDD.

Reviews and approvals are also not ideal with Process Design Documents (PDDs). Versioning, conversations, and the transparency and visibility to understand why certain decisions were made end up scattered in numerous documents wherever they reside, making audits pretty much a nightmare.

They Don't Prioritize Speed and Agility

PDDs can be in excess of 50 pages and that’s for a simple, tactical business process to be automated. Transferring the necessary process flows and manually authoring the requirements, conditions, and context needed by a developer is a daunting task that definitely does not promote speed and undoubtedly creates a real barrier to implement RPA at enterprise scale.

Change Management is Much More Complex and Arduous

Robotic processes are essentially little pieces of code that touch many different systems and user interfaces (UI). Changes to anything the bot touches (like new versions of operating systems the bots run on, new releases for UIs they touch, changes to policies and regulations, etc.) causes the bot to break and incurs significant maintenance effort. Before any development work can begin, changes must be manually reflected in the Process Design Document (PDD) so they can be communicated and up to date, adding even more overhead and limiting an RPA team’s ability to maneuver in the face of change.

They're Wasteful

Ironically, RPA is built on the foundations of reducing cost, becoming more efficient, and eliminating waste by optimizing business processes and then automating them. Yet creating a PDD requires setting everything up as a requirement with a lengthy annex of policies and controls to consider.

This creates confusion for developers who are used to working with very different, clear, and concise direction. What’s more, it makes it difficult to identify and prioritize work, leading to developers wastefully building more than is necessary.

They Can Be Misinterpreted

The stakeholder that needs the bot and the person who builds it are two very different groups approaching work from different angles that can lead to different interpretations. Seeing as they’re independent, siloed documents, PDDs are not exactly a medium that reinforces alignment, active discussion, and a shared vision.

They Don't Accurately Reflect Key Enterprise Context

For RPA to be scaled and tangibly deliver the ROI that was promised to the executives that sponsored it, each automated process must be connected to larger business objectives. Large organizations are also governed by their own enterprise constraints and the policies and controls from the heavily regulated industries they operate in. A digital workforce must also be tied to those constraints and controls for regulatory compliance. PDDs don’t provide a seamless mechanism to execute either.

The Alternative - Digitize and Simplify the PDD with Blueprint

To deliver RPA at scale and promote cross-functional alignment, the PDD must be digitized and simplified in a centralized location all stakeholders can access to collaborate and gain holistic transparency and visibility.

Digitizing the PDD allows large enterprises to house all key business objectives, enterprise constraints, and regulatory practices in one location and connect them to RPA opportunities digitally. Effectively, one central, digital library promotes enhanced context for the developer with all relevant information at their fingertips should they need it, ensuring everyone is on the same page and speaking the same language.

Blueprint's Business Transformation Platform provides large enterprises with all the fundamental capabilities needed to scale RPA and reinforce collaboration and alignment for an accelerated time-to-value.

Blueprint’s Business Transformation Platform is an integrated solution that allows organizations to design, connect, and align business processes to overall business strategy, customer needs, and enterprise constraints, and then feed all information into an organization’s RPA platform with a simple click of button, giving bot developers an invaluable head start to development with unparalleled context and visibility. Using Blueprint’s leading digital process discovery and modeling solutions, large enterprises can maintain one single source of truth in a centralized repository and collaborate with all stakeholders in real-time to gain efficiencies and create significant enterprise-wide and bottom-line impact.

Read the datasheet and discover how Digital Blueprints radically accelerate and scale the design and delivery of automation like the PDD never could.

Blueprint Business Transformation Platform