By Vikram Jain, Practice Director- Analytics and Business Apps, Advaiya Solutions
Process automation is a big deal. It can be the key to unlocking your organisation’s potential and making it more competitive. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are pitfalls to avoid, best practices to follow, and an agile approach that will help you deliver business value from day one.
In this article, we will look at the pitfalls of automation and provide best practices to help ensure that automation is successful in your industry.
Start small, grow later
Your goal is to eliminate manual processes and increase efficiency through automation. But don’t start by automating everything in sight—you’ll find yourself wasting time and resources on projects that don’t deliver value.
Start with a couple of projects to become familiar with process automation in general. An initial proof of concept or pilot project, you can learn about process automation in your environment. This will help you to understand the right set of tools, type of application architecture, and integration opportunities with the current line of business systems.
If your goal is to create reusable artifacts as part of the process, you will understand common types of automation designs, which will allow you to make meaningful conclusions about what reusable artifacts will bring the most value.
Avoid a top-down adoption approach
The best way to get started with process automation is by creating an internal team that works alongside existing teams and helps them understand how automation could increase their efficiency or productivity levels. And, let your project teams decide how they want to approach automation themselves by working agilely! Give them time to experiment with different approaches and processes before deciding which ones work best.
This approach reduces the risk that other departments will feel overwhelmed by new technology and make assumptions about how it might impact their workflows, which could lead them down a path of failure instead of success!
Resist the desire to create your own platform.
When it comes to process automation, many organizations don’t want to depend on another vendor, and there are aspects related to integration in line of business applications and tools in which they have already invested. It’s difficult to set up this kind of platform, and it can turn into a large project which can derail you from delivering business value. And there are already plenty of solutions out there built for this purpose; most businesses don’t need another one—they just need something that works! Don’t try to reinvent
Many companies have found success by leveraging off-the-shelf platforms such as Power Automate, UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Kissflow, etc., instead.
You can evaluate these tools in terms of Total Cost of Implementation (TCO) – license and infrastructure costs, the ability to achieve scale, and compatibility with your line of business systems for integration.
Work nimble and focus on delivering business value
This means you need to work on a specific project that solves the immediate business challenge. Working with small teams who can make decisions quickly and act on them immediately rather than having large teams with slow decision cycles which need approval from senior leadership before taking action (which can take weeks or even months)
Not choosing the right processes to automate in the beginning
When automating processes, it is important to choose the right processes to automate. Failing to do so can lead to long-term problems. Automating processes that are not well-defined or are too complex could lead to wasted time and resources. Automating processes that don’t need automation could also lead to wasted resources. When choosing processes to automate, it is important to make sure that the process will benefit from automation before investing in the technology and personnel needed.
It is also important to consider the cost of automation. Automation can be expensive, and it is important to make sure that the cost of automation is worth the potential benefits. Additionally, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with automation. Automation can lead to errors and other issues, so it is important to make sure that the risks are worth the potential benefits.
Not having governance over the implementation process
For proper executive control over the whole process implementation, you need an individual or group who can oversee the whole process. You can use a Center of Excellence model team to help the organization provide best practices and governance for the project. This team can consist of domain-specific specialists, IT specialists, and citizen developers from various departments who can emerge as a champion at the time of adoption.
Not having a good governance model can result in wastage of resources, higher operation costs, unpredictability in providing services and products, and, most importantly, loss of knowledge. Having no clear ownership and accountability can directly affect productivity measurement.
In addition, automation for an organization requires more than just IT expertise. Depending solely on the IT department can lead to unnecessary delays and glitches, as well as missed opportunities for improvements. It is important to involve departments where the automation is implemented, to ensure that all aspects of the process are considered.
Trying to implement process automation on your own
Automation requires expertise and experience to be successful. Trying to implement automation on your own can lead to costly mistakes and a waste of time and resources. To ensure success with automation, it is important to enlist the help of experts who have experience in this field.
Experts in process automation can help you identify the best processes to automate, develop the necessary software, and ensure that the automation is running smoothly. They can also provide guidance on how to optimize the automation process and make sure that it is meeting your business goals. Working with an experienced automation expert can help you save time and money and ensure that your automation project is successful.
Here are some best practices to adopt when automating your business processes:
-Choose the right processes to automate
-Enlist help from experts when implementing robotic process automation
-Set clear goals for your automation strategy
-Have a comprehensive view of the entire process
-Involve personnel from different departments and promote citizen development through CoE
-Higher subject matter expert and product owner participation with a “show and tell” approach
-Some training pay dividend – involve your team in training for the tool to unlock its potential
Also, understand that automation is a tool, not a panacea. Automation is an essential part of the process improvement journey. It helps you scale your operations and deliver value faster, but it’s not a magic bullet that can do everything for you.