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Why Automation Documentation is Essential: 4 Key Reasons You Can’t Ignore

4 min read
May 13, 2024 9:00:00 AM

A key automation challenge Blueprint solves for RPA (Robotic Process Automation) leaders is helping them better understand and uncover exactly what they have in their automation estates.

One of the main reasons that automation leaders and practices don’t know what they have in their estates is because the proper documentation doesn’t exist. Rarely is there a strong commitment to creating and maintaining up-to-date process design documents (PDD) or any kind of specifications that detail what the automation does, why it was designed, who designed it, etc.

Beyond losing visibility and an explicit understanding of what you have in your automation estate, the absence of automation documentation creates a host of problems that could cost you a lot of money. For starters, it makes automation support and troubleshooting much more labor- and time-intensive, forcing organizations to waste and spend money they don’t need to if they did the right kind of work in the front end of automation design and delivery.

This article explores why automation documentation doesn’t really exist and the four reasons why it is so important.   

Why Automation Documentation Doesn’t Really Exist

Not creating or maintaining documentation was not necessarily a conscious decision when organizations started their automation journeys. It was more a consequence of circumstance and a general oversight. There are three main reasons automation documentation doesn’t exist which include:

  • Implementation by third parties – In many cases, automation initiatives were started years ago by third parties like service integrators, professional service providers, consultants, etc. Those third parties either didn’t document the initial automations they implemented, or they did, and that work was filed away somewhere, never to be heard from or seen again.

  • Employee turnover – Without a strong commitment and structured practice to documenting automations, when employees transition to new positions, they either take all the knowledge they amassed in the automation practice with them, or whatever they documented was lost in the endless catalog of enterprise documents somewhere internally.

  • The logistics of creating and updating documentation – Creating and updating documentation, regardless of the enterprise software category is already a time-consuming and difficult endeavour so it often doesn’t happen until the repercussions become too big to ignore, as they have for automation detailed in the next section.

The 4 Reasons Automation Documentation is Essential

The absence of a commitment to creating and maintaining documentation for automations has become too penalizing and detrimental to continue brushing off. These are the four ways a lack of automation documentation hurts you and why it is important.

Reason #1 – The High Cost of Automation Maintenance and Support

Even high-quality, resilient automations are prone to throwing errors and outages. Automations usually break down because an application they interact with has undergone an update and the user interface (UI) has changed.

Without the appropriate documentation that details which applications that automation interacts with, troubleshooting that broken bot and performing a root-cause analysis so it can be repaired and put back into production is an expensive and time-intensive process.

Reason #2 – Compliance and Audits

Ensuring automations are compliant is a major responsibility of any automation leader’s role. One of the best ways of ensuring that an automation handles data compliantly – outside of technology that checks for this automatically – is to review the bot’s PDD…if it exists, which it probably doesn’t. The next best way is to read the code itself (which demands that you have the ability to read code). This, however, can also be error-prone and incredibly tedious.

Moreover, suppose your automation practice is subject to an internal or external audit wherein documentation will be requested, and without it, difficult questions will need to be answered with possible fines and penalties to follow.

Reason #3 – Change Management

Related to reason #1, a major incentive for creating and maintaining documentation for your automations is facilitating and enabling a proactive change management strategy.

When an application – like your email provider that a myriad of your bots interact with – is due to change or be updated, your automation documentation can be reviewed to identify which bots need to be modified before they experience an outage and downtime, costing you money.

Robust documentation would even detail where the automation interacts with that application, making your automation developer’s job even easier and faster to complete, saving even more money during the change management and request process.

Reason #4 – Business and Automation Continuity

Employee turnover and attrition are both common and expected in the modern workforce. Employees transition to new opportunities both internally and externally very frequently.

A strong commitment to automation documentation ensures that when those employees leave the automation practice and possibly even the organization, the knowledge they gathered and contributed to the initiative doesn’t go with them.

A strong automation documentation practice ensures that your initiative and consequentially, your business operations, continue to run smoothly and uninhibited as external factors evolve and change around you.


The importance of comprehensive automation documentation can’t be overstated. It’s not merely a procedural task that ensures you’ve done your due diligence; it’s a critical asset that delivers operational visibility, reduces costly bot outages, and contributes to compliance and continuity in rapidly changing business environments.

As automation practices continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, the need for robust automation documentation is even more critical. Committing to creating and maintaining detailed, up-to-date specifications helps organizations avoid unnecessary costs, navigate changes more effectively, and secure their automation investments while maximizing their returns.

The benefits of strong documentation practices are evident: they safeguard the automations themselves and the overall health and profitability of the business.