So there is definitely money in process automation then… So much opportunity in legacy organisations where manual processes are so prevalent.
From my experience the challenge for most older businesses is not recognising the need for this change but rather structuring the change required to get from where they are now to where they need to be. The usual ‘anti-bodies’ surface when this sort of thing gets looked at and in more traditional matrix businesses the operational leads have a habit of reverting to type and protecting the status-quo in terms of people / roles / change etc…
My advice when approaching this: (sort of in order but can be run in parallel…)
- Put somebody in place with sole focus on automation. Existing team members will struggle with the people side of the change and this will always fall the back of the priorities list if it’s only part of somebodies ‘day-job’. Ensure there is some budget available for at least an initial set of trials (for anything you can’t get for free) and set them loose.
- Give them licence to look across the WHOLE business. This requires C-level buy-in that nowhere is ‘sacred’ but as a positive shows that no one part of the business is being targetted unfairly.
- Find a partner / platform to work with. Whether it be UiPath, Blueprism, Eggplant or any of the larger technology platforms now offering this service. Most will offer a free trial / POC to prove the value of their software.
- Talk to as many people across the business as possible. This is to understand what’s going on, where and how when it comes to the processes already in place. Timebox it so it doesn’t become a on-going paper exercise but this knowledge gathering is vital to build your backlog…
- Create a backlog of opportunities / pain points / challenges. Be brutally honest about where the costs and opportunities are and make sure it’s driven by real data. A risk here is to just work with the people who are the most supportive and whilst there are some benefits in that (see point 6) your automation play will ultimately live or die by the benefits it brings – which need to be measureable.
- Set up a group of trials. Using your backlog together with a group of sales-hungry platform providers get started. There is nothing better than learning as you deliver when it comes to this sort of work and I’ve seen numerous initiatives like this fall over as they never moved away from being a good idea and a set of colourful powerpoint slides (I’ve been guilty of that myself on occasions…)
- Share your progress and what you’re learning. A solid mantra for pretty much everybody to be fair but especially important here as many in a business will fear what’s going on and push against it. Transparency builds trust (even if the message is not an easy one to hear) and the more benefits you can quickly show – the more support from your business leaders you’ll receive.
- Build on the trials and iterate through your backlog. Similar to nearly all good product delivery the key is to make small moves, fast and often. Don’t get caught up in year long ‘programmes’ to completely automate a whole department and avoid big technical integrations that will be filled with red tape
There are many other things to look out for when getting your automation strategy up and running like how you create business cases for automation, the benefits of creating POCs running alongside existing manual process to mitigate risk, how to use the data generated by automating processes for wider business optimisation etc… but the points above should help get you started.
Any questions or thoughts on this then please comment below.