Organizations continue to progress in adopting new technologies and ways of working that help improve their profitability and competitiveness. Automating business processes is at the core of this strategy. It brings great benefits: reduction of fixed costs, increase in operational efficiency, elimination of routine administrative tasks, minimization of errors, greater speed, etc.
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Most Used Technologies
In automation initiatives, we can use different tools and technologies, although the most common are:
- Process and case/ticket management solutions
- Image recognition and OCR
- Machine Learning Algorithms
- Process Mining, discovery and analysis
- Virtual assistants (chatbots, text and voice recognition…)
People Are Key To Automation.
When we talk about automation, technologies are different compared to other improvement initiatives in the organization, such as agile transformation or the improvement of work and management methods, where tools have a less relevant role.
But experience has shown that people are the key contributor to the success of automation initiatives, and they do so in three different ways.
First of all, the organization must have the necessary knowledge and skills for automation, and this implies that people are well educated and trained to work in this new way, either by correctly using a new ticketing tool or knowing to use process mining to analyze the process to automate and see what we need to improve and how the process will work once automated, or adapting to leave manual and administrative tasks to focus on continuous improvement and team and process management.
On the other hand, it is critical for success to incorporate the experience and knowledge of people into the tools in their design and that these people train the automation platforms to reflect the reality of the organization’s processes.
Furthermore, organizations are constantly changing. This implies the need for fluid communication to be maintained throughout the company, business units and functions, with the essential participation of people departments – human resources, to keep automation initiatives focused and gain acceptance. And everyone’s commitment.
Coordination Between Business Units And Functions
Expanding on the human aspect of automation, the most differentiating factor between companies that have been successful in their automation initiatives and the rest that is not technological is the good coordination between the different business units and functions of the organization. Processes are transversal by nature, and when addressing automation, it is essential to consider end-to-end value chains to determine what will bring the most benefits by being automated and how automation will affect the rest of the functions and people in the process. Those value chains.
Therein lies the importance of using process mining as a tool for collaborative analysis of the processes to be automated and a basis for conversation between people and departments about priorities, aspects for improvement, results obtained, next actions in the automation initiative, etc.
Monitoring And Control Are Essential.
Logically, the greater the scope of the automation initiative, the more benefits the organization will obtain. But in order not to disperse efforts and always keep the resources, time, money and effort of people well oriented, those responsible for leading automation need to maintain Control and see how the projects are evolving at all times.
This implies having complete and detailed knowledge of the costs of automation programs, both direct and indirect, and the benefits obtained and the real impact on profitability. Concepts such as TCO (total cost of ownership), ROI (return on investment) and PCE (process efficiency) should be part of the scorecard of transformation initiatives and be the key indicators of automation success.
In addition, it is common for midsize companies to start with small automation initiatives with a small scope, with a Lean approach of experimentation and learning. Measuring these indicators will allow us to learn and help us decide whether we are on the right track and can expand the scope and depth of automation or whether we should redirect efforts to other areas or with other technologies.
3 Steps To Ensure The Success of Automation Initiatives
With all of the above, we can summarize that to ensure the success of our automation initiatives, and it is convenient to follow these three steps:
IDENTIFY BUSINESS PROCESSES
Identify the business processes (or the parts of them) where automation will bring more benefits: more efficiency, fewer costs, more speed, fewer errors, more profitability, and more alignment with the strategy… At G2, we use Service Design & Improvement Thinking methodologies to systematize the identification of processes whose improvement will bring benefits with their automation, and Process Mining tools to carry out analyzes and simulations (what-if) of which process and where it is convenient to automate and how much is improved with automation.
ENHANCE COLLABORATION BETWEEN FUNCTIONS AND BUSINESS AREAS
To automate a process, different knowledge and skills are needed (data analytics, User experience, digitization, organization of people…) that reside in other parts of the organization, from IT to Human Resources or Finance. In addition, the processes are transversal, and people from different areas participate in them, who will be affected by the change and on whom the initiative’s success will depend. Collaborative work methods and tools and cultural change management using Management 3.0 techniques can help achieve this point.
INVEST TIME AND EFFORT IN PEOPLE
Automation must go beyond eliminating jobs by replacing people with robots, and focus on helping people be more productive, work better, and be more comfortable. The use of robots that record requests and collect information from multiple sources in real-time so that people who serve customers and users can focus on improving their relationship with them is an example. But, although automation can get the job done better and faster, it is the people who make it possible and participate in the continuous improvement of processes, operations and the organization. Suppose we do not put people at the center of automation initiatives. In that case, technologies will not be effective due to a lack of training and incorporation of human knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, resistance to change will be a brake on the success of the transformation.
Also Read: 6 Keys For Automation Success