The Center of Excellence (CoE) for Automation has become a very hot topic these days, moving from distributed organizations that each own several tools and scripting to one vertical center that provides automation solutions across the enterprise.
In response to this growing demand, Ayehu has established an Automation Academy that will help enterprises to transition and build their own CoE, training people to become Automation Specialists / Engineers. This will allow organizations to better prepare for the future (when machines will do almost everything) and help drive efficiencies via automation with a stronger emphasis on innovation.
Building your own CoE for Automation isn’t necessarily as complicated as you may think. In fact, it can be accomplished by implementing just a few strategic steps. Here’s how.
Step 1: Evaluate and Adopt Automation
The first step in the process of establishing a CoE for Automation is to gain adequate understanding of the various challenges, opportunities and benefits of automation. During this process, project management teams may choose to identify certain “quick wins” that can be automated fast and result in immediate return on investment.
Step 2: Define, Document and Set Up the CoE
Having gained a strong understanding of the challenges surrounding adoption of automation as well as the tremendous, quantifiable opportunities it presents, the next step is actually establishing your Center of Excellence for Automation. This involves selecting the appropriate core team members as well as evangelists who will assist in spreading awareness and advocate for the benefits of automation.
Keep in mind that the ideal core team for a CoE demonstrates a broad spectrum of skill sets. For instance, you’ll need someone who can assess the impact and document the processes, someone who can handle the implementation and integration process and someone else who can monitor and test the automation.
Step 3: Establish Systems and Infrastructure
Your CoE for Automation will only be as effective as the technological foundation upon which it is built. Making wise choices upfront about the systems and infrastructure you establish will set the stage for rapid growth and also help to prevent potential issues from occurring down the road. Invest in enterprise-class automation and architecture that includes robust features. Create and document best practices with a focus on automated processes that are consistent, efficient, accurate and auditable.
Step 4: Train, Educate and Reskill
While automation will inevitably eliminate some jobs, there are opportunities to train and reskill people for new, next generation roles, such as Automation Engineers. Reskilling and redeploying back to work will ultimately create higher value for the organization, its clients and for the employees themselves. Look for training options that are specific to CoE development, like Ayehu Automation Academy.
Step 5: Sustain and Scale
Once your CoE is officially established, the next phase should involve aligning the automation strategy with the strategic objectives of the organization. This typically involves scaling the approach to make it broader. For instance, while the initial goal of automation might have been to reduce costs, the scope should eventually evolve to include such larger goals as creating stronger customer loyalty or driving greater agility.
The entire CoE needs to work on firming a matured process so it can become agile enough to respond to demand and maximize efficiency. This process should have a definition of how the organization should approach the CoE, how the CoE should evaluate and prioritize these requests, how it should develop its internal design to production processes, etc.
Finally, the core CoE team should specifically include analysts who can continuously identify automation opportunities, translate business needs to IT processes, determine potential ROI and create the logic steps necessary for the automation engineers to build and implement the processes. Remember – a CoE isn’t stagnant. It’s something that must change, evolve and improve as time goes by.
Step 6: Incorporate Automation into the Culture of the Enterprise
Ultimately, automation should become a complement of continuous process improvement for the entire organization. The last step of building a CoE for Automation involves changing the overall business mindset to embrace the opportunity automation presents to change and improve how it operates.
Creating the CoE without making a cultural change in the organization simply will not work. The organization (the people) must change their behavior and think about automation as opportunity to live better, to focus on more important things and be freed up for innovation. Embracing automation will allow the CoE to become relevant to an organization that wants to change and automate as much as possible.
Keep in mind that this phase can take a good deal of time to complete. You’ll know you’ve achieved success once automation becomes embedded in every department and function throughout the enterprise.
Step 7: Market the CoE
Once the CoE for Automation is successfully established and the necessary cultural shift has been set in motion, it’s time to start promoting the CoE to outside to end clients. Any client-facing employee should be prepared to sell the innovation and success stories of automation. This will create demand generation and fulfillment and help the organization achieve maximum competitive advantage.
This is clearly a high-level overview of the CoE process, but it should at least provide a framework upon which to build. If you’re considering making a move in this direction, we encourage you to take advantage of our resources and expertise by allowing us to assist you with developing and establishing your Center of Excellence.