Automation has become the focus for organisations in order to improve efficiency of the workforce. Automation is generally in everyone’s minds but is not given enough attention. A well defined business process catalogue is the place to start which could be reviewed and optimised so as to improve operational efficiency. Some times activities that were defined as part of the business process are so painstakingly mundane which is where Automation will come to the rescue.
Most of the businesses have already taken that first step towards automation. We are in a competitive world where a small step in automation is no longer sustainable and organisations would need something more strategic.
Process-led Automation Approach
“Automation first” approach is no longer an option but an imperative for organisations. Organisations should consider Automation as front-runner and not as back-burner. In order to succeed CIO’s have to start establishing “Automation Centre of Excellence (CoE)” with dedicated resources on both ends including IT and Business functions. Business buy-in and sponsorship are very critical for sustainable automation. Establishing following artefacts is the first milestone.
- Automation Strategy (Goals, Vision and Objectives) : Aligns to corporate goals and vision.
- Automation Roadmap (Timelines and Maturity Model) : A well established roadmap along with showing the maturity requirements at each stage.
Automation strategy should depict how Automation should mature over time in various phases. The aim is for organisations to achieve automations at enterprise level for in order to ensure right level of ROI. A brief overview of how organisations can mature overtime :
- Manual : At this stage most of the processes are manual. Most of the steps in the process are repetitive and are manually done by human. Software that is used might be as simple as Excel or as complicated as CRM, either way repetitive tasks are done by a human. Simple processes might be okay to continue as is but most of the complex processes might lead to human-errors which in-turn leads to double work. In some cases business process are not at all documented but are only known to specific set of SME’s.
- Automation : A good start will be to have at least critical business processes fully documented. Business processes should be reviewed in order to identify candidates for automation. Implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) would be a good start until a full maturity is achieved (explained in the “Sustainable approach to adopting Automation” section below).
- Hyperautomation : Organisations should have by now fully embedded Automation into everyday thinking, always looking either optimise or automate business processes. Next level of maturity is look into combining Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
Automation Centre of Excellence (CoE) will be required in order to attain long-term benefits. Team members for CoE can be decided based on various factors including the size of the organisation, number of business functions, size of business process catalogue and resources available.
Automation Centre of Excellence (CoE)
Automation Strategy once signed-off will allow the creation of ACoE, which will need a clear Terms of Reference in order to be sustainable. ACOE will need to define
- Team Members : Organisations having multiple business functions will a representative from each of the business functions in order to ensure 360-degree view.
- Objectives & Timelines (Maturity Model) : Objectives are required in order to help with prioritisation ie.. high-transaction volumes, are ideal candidates. Maturity model should help organisation track Automation roadmap
- Governance : Allows ACoE to be open, transparent, collaborative, efficient and performance oriented.
- Resources : List of resources who will be working on the Automation initiatives.
Automation should be adopted and monitored in order to be sustainable.
Sustainable approach to adopting Automation
In order to have a sustainable approach to adopt Automation Organisations should have to utilise Adoption Commitment Curve Model.
The stages for the Commitment Curve are:
- Contact : Understand Automation Technology
- Awareness : Increase awareness of Automation Technology within the Organisation
- Understanding : Under business processes that can be candidates for Automation
- Trial use : Trail with one of the candidates as a Proof of Concept
- Adoption or limited adoption : Rollout the bots in order to realise automation benefits
- Institutionalisation : Automation becomes a normal practice
- Internalisation : OrganisationCulture
Automation is a critical capability every organisation should have irrespective of its size small, medium or large. Accelerating automation efforts to increase efficiency of workforce is necessary in order to sustain in the for-ever changing and competitive world.
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