One of the biggest challenges organizations face today when attempting to automate their business processes is determining how to do so in a way that is both sustainable and scalable. In truth, a surprising number of automation projects fail to make it past the infancy stage, while others do next to nothing to effectively make an impact. To overcome this and achieve consistent, measurable results, you need to take a more holistic approach to intelligent automation.
In many ways, the people, structure and processes behind an intelligent automation initiative are far more important than the underlying technology. The key to success with digital transformation lies in developing a robust strategy right from the get-go. These include the critical factors that will ultimately pave the way to either victory or failure. Below, we explore several best practices to ensure that your intelligent automation strategy produces consistent, scalable results.
Develop and define your vision.
For any intelligent automation project to work, there must be a defined strategy and purpose. We’re not talking about vague goals, like cutting costs or improving efficiency, either. We’re talking about developing objectives that are explicit and specific, and most importantly, that align with your overall business strategies.
By pinpointing and documenting this vision, you will have a more clearly defined roadmap for achieving your goals. Additionally, when stakeholders are able to see intelligent automation as a strategic business project, they’ll be far more likely to lend their support and provide the financial and human resources that will be critical to your success.
When it comes to developing a scalable, sustainable intelligent automation strategy, there are two essential elements to focus on. Provided you get these fundamentals right, you should be on track for a successful rollout. The first is choosing an approach and executing it.
Many successful automation projects have begun with a centralized model. It’s important to point out, however, that success with intelligent automation is not something that can be achieved through brute force. In truth, it requires a more widespread, cultural adoption. As mentioned, this is even more crucial than the underlying technology itself.
A centralized approach will enable you to develop best practices in a way that you can scale at a later time, while also allowing you to work out any kinks early on in the project. The best way to accomplish this is through the implementation of an Automation Center of Excellence (CoE). As you mature along the digital transformation path, this team of citizen developers will be able to manage and facilitate the necessary growth and propagation of automation across the entire organization.
Choose the best processes.
When determining which tasks, processes and workflows to automate first, always look for those that will generate the fastest return. To start, make a list of potential candidates and define the benefits and cost of each opportunity. Prioritize this list accordingly.
The ideal candidates would be those processes that involve a high volume of manual, repetitive tasks, are particularly prone to human error or require improvements from a customer experience standpoint (such as faster response times). Resist the urge to tackle large-benefit processes that could take months to fully deploy. Instead, focus on easily built workflows that can have an immediate impact and build from there.
Once you’ve shortlisted and prioritized, double check with any impacted parties, such as the IT team, to be sure your rollout will not hit any barriers or bottlenecks. For instance, you may need to plan your deployment around any maintenance that may be scheduled for the targeted applications. And, of course, include in your organization efforts clearly defined KPIs so you’ll know how to measure progress.
Deploy and monitor.
Again, starting small and working up to larger workflows is the key to scalable intelligent automation. Begin automating the prioritized tasks on your list, carefully monitoring and managing as you go. This is another reason having a CoE is so important.
Once your automated processes are officially in production, they’ll need the appropriate support to ensure continuity and ongoing process improvement. Intelligent automation should never be viewed as something you simply set and forget. There may always be room for tweaks and improvements that could deliver even more value.
Train and retain your intelligent automation team.
In years past, implementing and managing an initiative of this nature would have required a team of highly skilled, experienced developers. While having experts in your corner is certainly beneficial, it’s no longer a requirement. In fact, with enhanced capabilities, like low-code/no-code automation solutions, organizations can leverage advanced AI technology without the need to vie for the attention of in-demand IT professionals.
Today’s organization, powered by the right automation platform, can easily establish a team of automation experts by simply reskilling or upskilling existing employees. In fact, this can be done completely free of charge with resources like our Automation Academy.
In the end, achieving the best results with intelligent automation requires adequate planning upfront and a proactive approach to continuous process improvement. With a clearly defined vision, specific and company-wide support, you should be able to start delivering results, even if that means failing along the way. Get it right, and you’ll be in position to innovate and maintain sustainable success.
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