Many companies are leveraging automation to achieve remarkably productive outcomes, but most firms find themselves in the pre-automation phase, or with only a few automations that deliver only minimal value. ISG’s Is Your RPA Program “Bot 3.0” Ready? study confirmed that 76 percent of all firms are in the very early stages of automation.
Why is this?
Accelerating the automation journey requires commitment, structure, discipline and a culture that is open to change. Without these, organizations stall.
Commitment. If your firm is not committed to reaping the benefits of automation, it will struggle to scale. Initiatives will be underfunded, organizations will be understaffed, and everyone will have something more important to do. This is why commitment must start at the top with board- and CEO-level commitment. Anything less will result in sub-optimal behavior that can erode your automation program.
Structure. Accelerating the automation journey requires strategy and governance. An automation strategy describes a plan of action and can be used to gain consensus and alignment. An automation governance framework should take into account the demand for automations as well as the supply or resources and capabilities available to satisfy that demand. It should help an organization align its automation initiatives with corporate strategy, prioritize work and handle conflicting priorities. Without governance, chaos reigns.
Discipline. A successful automation program has the discipline to set standards and follow them. If every RPA developer follows his or her own standard, the resulting automations will be difficult to operate and maintain. Variation is the enemy of scaling your automation journey. When people know there are a common set of solutions and methods – and when they follow them religiously – the organization will see an accelerating effect.
A culture that is open to change. Accelerating your automation journey requires a new way of thinking. Often, automation is considerd a threat – a threat to individuals, to organizations and to entire functional units within a corporation. This is why organizational resistance to change is the greatest impediment to automation. People need to understand the benefits of automation and how those benefits will affect them. They need to learn how automation can take the drudgery out of certain processes and make way for more meaningful work that delivers value to the company. A culture that is open to change will also be more likely to take advantage of automating more than just back-office processes. While it’s important to maximize the efficiency and productivity of back-office operations, other revenue-generating opportunities represent a huge potential for automation. In fact, front-office automation is the fastest growing area for RPA implementations. Call centers are amplifying the effectiveness of agents with automation tools that anticipate and provide real-time information to yield better customer experiences and increased sales. A culture that is open to change is also more likely to question the prevailing thought that systems and processes must be improved before they can achieve the goals of automation. Many automations are the result of optimizing what you have to quickly deliver real value. Waiting on process and system improvement can inhibit acceleration. Often, we find the return on investment for automation far exceeds that of business process reengineering.
In addition to these principles, accelerating the automation journey depends on a high-performing Center of Excellence (CoE). According to Is Your RPA Program “Bot 3.0” Ready?, 51 percent of companies launched their CoE within the last year, showing that organizations see the importance of CoEs in accelerating and scaling an automation program. An effective CoE will focus on creating and maintaining the following:
- CoE leadership and executive support
- CoE organization and operating/delivery model
- Business and IT bot portfolio/build planning
- Automation scope, strategy and vision
- Governance and value management
- RPA training and expertise
- Bot configuration standards and practices
- Infrastructure and platform management
- Release and upgrade management
- RPA production support
- RPA change management
- Innovation and maturity management
- Partner ecosystem management
Properly planned and executed, a CoE provides oversight and management for the automation program and supports and sustains the necessary commitment, structure, discipline and open mind for achieving your automation goals.
To learn more about how ISG can help you accelerate your automation journey, tune into our recent webinar Accelerate Your RPA Journey.
About the author
Dennis Conley is a partner in ISG’s Robotic Process Automation solutions practice in the Americas. He is focused on new business development for one of ISG’s fastest-growing service lines. He is an author and regular speaker at conferences on the subjects of RPA, cybersecurity, sourcing, innovation and business transformation.