If you want your process automation initiative to be successful, it is essential to establish roles and responsibilities from the outset. Doing so will ensure that everyone knows what their part is in making the automation a success, and will help to avoid any confusion or overlap down the line.
Why you need Automation Roles and Responsibilities
It appears simple to talk about automation roles and responsibilities as a topic of concentration. One of the most fundamental principles of building a functioning team is setting expectations for skills, knowledge, and duties. These conversations often focus on the duties and obligations that each function should carry out.
Roles and responsibilities are the core foundation for your general process automation success. Without them, you'll never be able to properly implement or take full advantage of automation.
But why are well-defined automation roles with clearly set out areas of responsibility and boundaries so important?
Here are some answers to that question:
Simply put, roles and responsibilities give everyone involved a clear understanding of what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it. This, in turn, makes it much easier to continously automate tasks and processes as it decreases the risk of confussion and duplication of effort.
Clearly defined roles allow employees to concentrate fully on their area of responsibility. With time and experience, this specialization leads to increased efficiency.
For one, without roles and responsibilities established, it can be difficult to hold people accountable for their actions (or lack thereof). This can lead to an overall decline in quality and productivity in a team.
Ultimately, taking the time to establish and test automation roles and responsibilities upfront will save you a lot of headache down the road. It will make it easier to hold people accountable, increase productivity, and improve clarity and communication within your team.
Automation Roles and Responsibilities
It's important to understand the roles and responsibilities that need to be established in order to ensure a successful implementation.
Please keep in mind: One job role does not necessary equals one job title and employee. One person can incorporate several roles and one role can be placed more than once. Please also be aware that some can have different names or variations.
The management is the brain of all automation initiatives. It makes sure that your ressources are perfectly distributed, they overview the different projects and in general make sure that everything runs smooth.
The ideal Automation Sponsor is someone who has the authority to justify and motivate the time and financial commitment while also being aware of the transformational nature of Process Automation implementation. The Sponsor takes a supporting role rather than an actively intervening one.
The Automation Leader takes an active role and is in charge of projects and oversees the investments of the ressources. The Automation Leader is similar to an Automation Sponsor. Often they might be the same person.
Center of Excellence
In the best case, the Center of Excellence (CoE) is a separate department, but it can also be organized as task forces. The name can vary and ranges from Center of Competence to Center of Expertise.
If management is the brains, then the Center of Excellence is the heart of any automation initiative and pumps the automation blood into all areas of the company, so to speak.
The Automation Manager is basically the Head of CoE. He can also be called Project or Program Manager and is the connection between the Center of Excellence and the Management.
The Automation Manager is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Center of Excellence. He monitors the performance of the process, choses the software, gathers data for the management and makes sure that any issues are addressed in a timely manner.
Automation Developer (Automation Engineer)
Depending on the focus and area of technology, the name of the Automation Developer might vary. Oftentimes people also call this role Automation Engineer, Automation Design Engineer, End-to-end Automation Engineer, Automation Test Engineer, etc. As you can see, there are many Engineers with just slightly other skills.
The developers' (or engineers') skills and makeup are heavily influenced by the broad automation strategy and chosen technology as well as the software that have been decided upon. The solution is designed, developed, tested and implemented by the developer (or engineer). To make sure it satisfies all the criteria, the developer (or engineer) collaborates closely with the Automation Business Analyst to test the made predictions and adjust the software solution, if necessary.
The developer (or engineer) needs a wide variety of technical and soft skills to succeed. He must be familiar with the hardware, software, networks, data security and systems used, but also needs to be able to test each implementation, as well as to communicate and work collaboratively with other business units and teams.
Automation Business Analyst
The Automation Business Analyst is responsible for understanding the business requirements of the process and mapping out how it will be automated. He also plays a key role in testing the automated process and gathering data to ensure it meets the required standards.
Business Analysts are responsible for uncovering inneficiencies and redesigning of the desired new process before the Automation Developer (or engineer) starts to automate it. Process Excellence and Process Mining are among the things this role should have internalized. Profound skills in working with and understanding data is also welcomed.
Optional: Automation Consultant
The Automation Consultant is the bridge between internal developers (or engineers) of the internal team and an external team supporting the company (e.g. more developers/engineers).
He works together with the CoE to ensure that the external team is aligned with the internal team and has everything it needs. He manages the different internal and external stakeholders and makes sure that the communication between these work.
The IT department is one of the most critical success factors in successfully introducing, testing implementing and scaling Process Automation in a company. We strongly recommended to closely involve the IT in the automation strategy and testing, especially when it comes to Citizen Development. This is the only way to avoid the nightmare known as Shadow IT and data security breaches, for example.
Never forget: The IT Department is the nerve system of every digitalized company.
Automation Solution Architect
The Automation Solution Architect is the connection between the IT department and the Center of Excellence. He works closely together with the Business Analyst on the feasibility and optimization of automation projects.
The Solution Artchitect is in charge of scheduling technical meetings, estimating time and costs, and facilitating the creation and implementation of the solution. Additionally, he is in charge of the initial infrastructure configuration for the development and the production and testing environments.
The functional departments are represented by your business units (HR, Finance, etc.). The business units are effectively the organs of your company and can be optimized through certain automation roles so that the entire body runs better.
Automation Change Manager
The Center of Excellence's change efforts are delivered to the various departments via the Automation Change Manager. He is one of the most crucial responsibilities since he helps the functional departments with the transition, together with the Automation Strategist.
Even though poor or absent Change Management is the main reason projects fail, many businesses just pay attention to the technical aspects of implementation.
Please have a look at our Stakeholder Analysis & Action Guide for Change Management, if you want to know which stakeholders you need to have an eye on.
The Automation Strategist assumes responsibility for all automation initiatives within their department and provides liaison between the Center of Excellence.
As he is an integral part of the business unit (and at best originally from it), he has the best overview of all processes within the department. He orchestrates change management together with the change manager, ensures that the right processes are submitted to the Center of Excellence and manages the automation efforts and environment in his department.
Automation Strategists also keep an eye out for any data security breaches that may arise during software development or, at the latest, during the testing of newly automated processes.
Citizen Developer (Citizen Engineer)
Employees that are proficient in using low-code or no-code software, such as the RPA software from UiPath or Microsoft Power Automate, to create new apps and process automation solutions that address small scale business challenges in their business unit are known as Citizen Developers or sometimes even Citizen Engineers.
These are often specialized business user that work either part- or full-time hours to develop software apps and automations that would otherwise be delegated to IT, which is already heavily involved in many longer-term implementation and testing projects.
Your company may profit much from these departmental developers and engineers, but they must receive proper Citizen Development skills and be incorporated into the overall enterprise automation strategy.
Although on a smaller scale, their task is similar to that of their highly specialized relatives: plan, create, test, release and optimize the newly automated process or app created.
By establishing these key roles and responsibilities, you can ensure that your process automation project is successful.
Things You Need to be Aware of
There are a few key things you need to keep in mind when establishing (new) automation roles and responsibilities for your automation efforts.
Establish an Automation Strategy
First, you need to be clear about what your goals are. What processes are you looking to automate? What kind of efficiency gains are you hoping to achieve? General put: What is your Automation Strategy?
Once you have a good understanding of your goals, you can start to think about which roles will be most instrumental in helping you reach those goals. It should be remembered that any approach must first be tried out in the real world. Testing is an essential part of implementing an effective strategy.
Utilize your Resources
Wisely Another thing to keep in mind is that not all roles need to be filled by full-time employees. In many cases, it may make more sense to assign certain roles and skills to part-time or contract workers. This can help keep costs down and can also help you tap into a wider pool of talent.
Educate your Employees
Finally, don't forget to consider the skills and experience of your team when assigning automation roles. You want to make sure that everyone is well-suited to the tasks they are assigned to. This means: Educate your employees (and test them).
There are three ways to do this:
- Online Academies: Vendor specific
- Online Academies: Vendor independent
When it comes to speed and general knowledge transfer away from specific software tools, we would always recommend an independent online academy. Many academies offer a testing period in which you can test the content before fully commiting yourself.
We hope that this article has been helpful in providing you with an understanding of the automation roles and responsibilities involved in successfully implementing an automation strategy.
Remember, the key to success is careful planning, testing and execution. With the right team in place, you can be sure that your automation efforts will be a success. Just test yourself and go step by step.