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Automating Success: What’s the Secret Sauce for Automation?

With all the hype and promises of grandiose returns with intelligent automation, it’s hard not to want to dive in headfirst. While process automation is certainly deserving of its reception and accolades, there are still some prerequisites for success. And it’s worth noting: No single technology or organizational change will be transformational on its own, as we’ve discussed before. There is no individual silver bullet; only pieces of a larger strategy. Read more about this here. Still, as we look at successful process automation initiatives, we do see common themes. So today we discuss some of these top drivers for success.

Keeping Business Outcomes Front and Center

A clear and steady focus on business outcomes lays the foundation for proper execution. Increased efficiency, improved productivity, measurable quality improvements, boosted satisfaction—these are all factors that should be associated with well-defined goals. Maintaining a sharp focus on the outlined business outcomes keeps everyone’s efforts aligned, from CEO to management to individual employees to the bots.

One Piece of a Bigger Pie

Individual business processes are often the spark that ignites the flame when it comes to process automation. But intelligent process automation should never focus on a single improved output; rather, it’s about improving the entire portfolio of business functions (which, by the way, still ensures those original processes will be addressed). The plan around automation should be but one component in a broader, wider-reaching plan.

Consistent Approach to ROI

There are so many ways to approach ROI, but generally, the formula looks something like this:

ROI = Benefit ÷ Cost X 100%.

Unfortunately, this approach glosses over some of the very real impacts that automation can provide, and does not properly represent the returns on investment. If you’re trying to build a solid business case to demonstrate value, this approach would come up short.

That’s because ROI for automation is much more complex than this. A better formula will be customized, taking into consideration the original needs, the current situation, the future plans, and how it all aligns to broader business goals. Among other considerations, an accurate formula will include:

  • Immediate gains, typically felt and seen within the first few weeks of implementation
  • Short-term wins, seen within the first 3-6 months
  • Long-term metrics, which take several months or even a year or longer to mature
  • New opportunities that wouldn’t have existed without the technology

For a deep dive look at how to consider ROI for business process automation.

Culture

Don’t forget that for your staff, perception is reality. There will be suspicions to quell and fears to allay, but it must be done tactfully, and with the acknowledgment that trust will be earned. Encourage thoughtful discussion and be open to questions about automation and digital transformation. Demonstrate the time savings. Show how bots alleviate the volume and stress of tedious computer work. Highlight the mundane tasks that can be shuffled down to this new resource. Build an open environment where people are encouraged to embrace the technology, and create a culture where it is obvious that the technology is there for the sole purpose of supporting their work and making things better.

Centralizing a Plan and Building Center of Excellence

Like siloes, quick wins in automation often produce the fast results you want to see, but they lack the substance and coordination to have any long-term impacts on the organization. To develop long-term, broad-scale success, you will need a centralized business plan for IT automation and deployment of various technologies, including robotic process automation (RPA).

Ultimately, this centralized plan should be executed and managed by a Center of Excellence (CoE), a dedicated team of experts who can oversee the efforts. This team understands the intricacies of automation and integration, capturing feedback, establishing requirements, building best practices, creating a governance structure, and more. Ultimately, the role of the CoE is to ensure a smooth execution that is constantly on track to achieve business outcomes.

These are just a few of the common factors we see in successful automation initiatives. Like most things in business, yours will be unique to your organization.

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