Organizations worldwide start automation initiatives to improve and automate their respective business processes. Unfortunately, not every initiative has a happy ending. According to an EY study, approximately 30% to 50% RPA-related fail, and that’s quite a high number, you’ll agree.
So, what do these failed automation projects have in common? More importantly, what does every successful automation initiative has in common?
To answer these questions, we decided to make a do's and don’ts list and help you focus on the good practices while avoiding the approaches that could negatively affect your automation initiative. Read on.
The Do’s of Every Automation Initiative
First, let’s start with the actions that can ensure your automation initiative is successful.
Build a Process Backlog
Having an in-depth overview of a process is essential for understanding it, which could ultimately help you see if you’re doing something wrong. Creating a detailed backlog could help you see the big picture, as well as some details you might be missing. Most importantly, you’ll have a detailed outline of the steps you need to take to automate your business process.
When building a backlog, you need to answer several key questions:
- How is the process structured?
- Are there bottlenecks, and how to tackle them?
- What’s different from other processes? How is the process at hand unique?
- Who is involved in the process, and how?
Do Awareness Campaigns for Automation
Once you decide to start an automation initiative in your organization, it’s very important to build awareness about it so that your co-workers won’t get negative sentiments towards it. Introducing automation is a significant change, and helping employees understand the true nature of automation could help them adopt it faster and even become interested in learning more.
Hold Strategy Workshops
Coming up with the strategy to automate a business process requires more than a single person. Ideally, all people involved in the process should be able to attend workshops that will help them contribute. After all, they probably understand their steps of the process better than anyone else.
Involve All Stakeholders
It’s important to include as many stakeholders as possible — ideally all of them. Only by making everyone included could you come up with a comprehensive solution for automating a business process without having to make frequent adjustments in the process.
Organize a Well-Structured Process Discovery and Mapping
Before automating the process, it’s important to have it mapped out so that you can clearly define its goals and the complete flow of the process. But before mapping it, sometimes it’s necessary to understand how the process works in the first place, which is done with a set of techniques commonly known as process discovery.
Here’s how we handled one process recording for a client.
Process discovery should follow a certain structure in order to be successful. We’ve come up with a design sprint week exclusively for automation projects, and they include four-day sessions, where each day is tied to a different activity. For example, during the first day, the participants only work on understanding the challenge and defining it further. The second day is intended for sketching and deciding on how to proceed, and the third day is reserved for prototyping. The final day is dedicated to testing the prototype.
The Don’ts of Every Automation Initiative
Let’s look at some of the things you should not do or do differently to avoid failing in your automation initiative.
Don’t Automate for the Sake of Automation
Don’t waste time automating an entire process just to say that you use automation, as you may end up wasting many resources and time only to understand that the automation doesn’t really contribute anything to your workflow. It’s best to start with a proof of concept first and decide whether there’s a point in automating a process or not.
Don’t Focus on One Technology Only and Fail to See All Possibilities
By using one technology or one approach in your automating initiative, you might miss out on some of the opportunities offered by other technologies. Even if you succeed with the technology you’re using, you still might be able to improve your automated process if you decide to take alternative solutions and possibilities into account.
Don’t Develop Demand by Reaching Out to Departments
Once your organization starts an automation initiative, you might have an urge to reach out to various departments and offer automation. However, that’s not scalable in the long run because you may not be able to devote enough time and energy to each apartment. Above all, some might not even need automation to start with.
Don’t Avoid Educating and Training Employees on Automation
If you’re familiar with the concept of automation and everything else that comes with it, you might be one of the few in your organization. Many of your co-workers might not even know what it means, let alone understand its potential, and that’s why education matters.
We understand the urge to skip education and training — it costs, and it lasts. Moreover, you might not think that your employees require education or training. In reality, most of them will get in touch with automation at one point, and it’s essential to train them to approach it properly.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for External Help
In case you’re starting an in-house automation initiative, you might run up into some obstacles that will require automation professionals. Therefore, you might want to consider hiring an automation consultant or automation agency to ensure that you’re going the right way and avoiding all pitfalls.
Starting an automation initiative is a big deal for every organization, so it’s important to understand what methods and strategies are the most successful and try them.
Therefore, we suggested some of the most important do’s and don’ts to help you learn about the path towards successful automation. If you’re still struggling to get your initiative going and want to maximize its success, feel free to get in touch with us.