We’ve spoken about automation at length before. In fact, we recently completed a four-part webinar series all about how to move towards automated API conformance and customer onboarding. But, we’re not all about “spinning the marketing yarn” with automation,

we are realists who acknowledge the fact that automation can be a pretty daunting task for any firm. Click To Tweet

In our webinar series, we painted (we think) a fairly compelling picture of where we feel automation can help connectivity teams. And, from everyone we’ve spoken to since, although we hit the nail on the head with the vision, the important question remains; how do I get there?

Creating change in any organisation is more than just introducing a new tool or process. It needs to be a shared vision for how to do something better, how to serve customers better. And like all constructive change, it requires a plan. As we create our ‘automation plan’ there will, of course, be challenges along the way.

Here are 5 common challenges when looking to automate:

1. Identifying what to automate

It may sound obvious, but the word “automation” gets thrown around too often these days, and a quick Google search could result in any number of tools that could create a level of automation.

When it comes to APIs and customer conformance, however, we need to be especially careful.

Financial services APIs are a very niche area, and off-the-shelf “automation” tooling can’t really help tackle any of the domain-specificity of checking API behaviour; at best it can help to smooth some of the project-level tasks around it. And so, if our vision is to create “automated API conformance”, then we need niche, domain-specific tooling.

We know that, to move to a place of genuine automation, we need to be investing in machine-readable documents or “Blueprints” that create the technical foundations for:

  • Automated documentation
  • Automated QA
  • Automated conformance
  • Automated QA test-case generation
  • Automated upgrade paths
automation FIX

If you’d like to find out more about how we got to this point, have a watch of our “Future of FIX” webinar.

2. Deciding which route to take

You’ve identified what you’d like to automate, but there may be several ways to achieve it.

It’s really important to objectively consider the most appropriate method, process, or technology.

In the case of automated API testing & conformance, we’ve identified that we need to create an API blueprint. A machine-readable document that is structured, created, and managed in an automated way. Machine-readable documentation is great for adding new layers of automation to your process, but to avoid the need for big-bang, industry-wide adoption of one format over another, it’s important that any documentation you provide is both machine and human-readable. More precisely, we believe that documentation should capture both elements, and be easily convertible into a variety of formats based on context.

For us, this is our FinSpec JSON schema.

If you missed the webinar where we came to this conclusion, here is the comparison we made:

finspec comparison

3. Building a compelling business case

I won’t be alone in saying that I’ll often find a tool online that sounds great and could help streamline a recurring task or process. They have a pricing page where the price looks good, but I still need to get the department manager or COO to allocate budget.

And that’s where the good idea evaporates.

Unless you can quantify savings corresponding to the cost, then the COO will turn you down…but how do you quantify savings when those savings primarily come from people spending less time doing manual, repetitive tasks?

In our recent webinar “How to build a business case for API Blueprints” we take you through the process step-by-step.

4. Shifting office politics towards a focus on customer service

We’d be naive in thinking that internal politics play no part in strategic decision making. It’s crucial that everybody in the organisation shares the same strategic direction, which often goes far beyond the benefits listed on paper.

When we look at automating tasks and processes, we often overlook the fact that the end result of well-implemented automation is providing better customer service.

It’s therefore important to put together a business case that considers the end-to-end benefits of automation which go far beyond tooling taking on manual, repeatable processes.

The question should always be: “how can automation support customers, as well as internal teams?”.

5. Finding the time to create change, whilst maintaining the day-to-day

And so to what we feel is the biggest challenge facing connectivity teams considering automation.

How do I maintain the day-to-day tasks of managing customer connectivity, whilst investing time in creating automated processes?

The reality is there is a journey to go on. In fact, every challenge we’ve highlighted here is a step of that journey.

Start by identifying these steps in the context of your firm, and allocate small chunks of time to make incremental progress.

By focusing on smaller pieces of the puzzle, you will be able to measure incremental progress and therefore demonstrate to your boss that it is worth investing the time. Take them on the journey in a structured, measurable way.

Start your journey

We can help walk you through the process.

Below you will find links to recordings of the complete webinar series, which should hopefully leave you will the information and tools to move the conversation forward in your firm.

The future of FIX: how electronic blueprints could automate API testing and conformance.

API Blueprints: What is the key to automated testing & conformance?

How to build a business case for API Blueprints

Automation in action: a demonstration of the fixspec platform

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