How Important Is Scalability in An Automation Platform?
In our last newsletter, we noted how when purchasing an automation platform, legal operations departments get enamored with the citizen development/build-side of the solution, often overlooking the importance of having best-in-class runtime management capabilities (to read, click here). Today we are focusing on scalability.
As the number of automated workflows increases, hundreds if not thousands of instances will be running at the same time. If you select the wrong platform, managing them becomes extremely difficult. The management effort in many cases will surpass the efficiency gains realized from the automation effort itself. So, instead of taking work activities off the list, it simply shifts resources elsewhere.
Unfortunately, during the technology selection process, it is not possible to see the platform operate under real life scenarios, and subsequently clients are caught off guard when these challenges are exposed after deployment. Therefore, it is vital to have detailed selection criteria available to properly vet the various options which you are considering.
Adding complexity and confusion for the buyer is the fact that many vendors that have entered the legal department automation market offer service solution platforms that are not actually Low-Code/No-Code (LC/NC).
On the one hand, service-based applications being considered meet the scalability criteria, but on the other hand they require far too much IT involvement and coding to make the application usable. In short, these platforms lack the speed and agility needed to enable measurable change, plus the department is beholden to IT.
The IT department likes these service-based applications because they are stable, can scale without limitation, and they can control them. This may be acceptable for departments that only want to deploy an application here and there. For departments wanting to adopt broad-scale automation and truly transform their operations, there are much better options.
Another inadequate solution is basic workflow tools that don’t scale. Although somewhat effective for simplistic use cases, they don’t perform well in complex, high volume scenarios. The applications built with these solutions become isolated with no governance and are limited by all of the issues mentioned previously affecting runtime management.
In summary, platforms that are too simplistic will require coding to address complex use case scenarios, leading to a potential support nightmare. If you select a workflow tool, you will quickly realize the negative impacts after the first couple of applications are deployed. Selecting platforms that only IT can support is a big disadvantage as legal teams are held hostage by IT’s priority queue. This makes it difficult to respond quickly to ever-changing business conditions.
So, what does the ideal automation platform solution look like? First, it must offer a balance of all the following – true LC/NC citizen development which the department can leverage without having to wait on IT. It must also easily scale without limitation and can be effectively managed at runtime.
If you are currently seeking an automation solution or considering it for the future and would like to better understand how to build a selection criterion to identify the right solution, please reach out to us. We welcome the opportunity to share best practices.