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Ready, Set, Automate: Prepare for Automation and Get The Best Outcome

Discover all you need to know to prepare for automation properly and get the best possible outcome once automation is set in motion.

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April 14, 2022

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Preparing Automation Projects and Assigning Roles

Automation takes preparation. The last thing you want to is for your automation project to fail or end up with an unfinished automation initiative. 

As a result, we decided to cover everything you need to know when starting a project, including what types of roles you are expected to assign. Read on.

Automation Projects: All You Need to Know

We came up with a set of practical tips and tricks that can help you avoid the pitfalls when starting to work on your automation project.

Understand the Different Aspects of an Automation Project

We recognized five separate aspects of automation initiatives: organization, governance, people & culture, technology, and process. When looking at an automation project, it is essential to see it with a holistic view and address the different aspects equally.

Asking the Right Question Matters

Every successful automation project succeeds because someone knows which questions to ask. These questions will empower you to communicate what you intend to do clearly. 

It all starts with the Why, what, and how.

  • Why do we do something? Why do we aim for automation?
  • What do we have to do to implement it?
  • How are we going to do it?  

Proof-of-Concept: Yes or No?

There are two ways to approach the automation initiative. One is to build it by starting with process selection and identification right away, and the other is to build PoC first. By building PoC, you can learn a few things along the way that could be beneficial for your initiative. Here’s a quick overview of the two different perspectives.

  1. Demand Funnel -> Identify -> Define/Design (PPD) -> Develop (SDD) -> Go Live 
  2. Identify -> Define/Design (PPD) -> Develop (SDD) -> Go Live -> Demand Funnel

Good PoC Can Result in Larger Initiatives

Invite motivated MAs who are interested in the project and conduct a small proof-of-concept to convince management to end up engaging in a larger initiative.

Start Small and Scale Fast

There’s no single rule as to what approach to automation projects is correct. However, everything in automation can be measured, and it’s no secret that one approach turned out to be more successful than others. It can simply be described as: start small and scale fast. By starting small, you’ll be able to gradually expand the scope of your automation project, which will also affect the speed with which you can scale.

Start with a Single Technology

Instead of using several technologies at once, it’s always better to start with a single one and understand its scope. Focus on building new use cases around it. After completing one technology, you can explore others, one at a time, and come up with use cases for each.

Organize Process Discovery Workshops

Process discovery workshops help us discover new processes and analyze the existing ones. Holding frequent workshops can help us make continuous improvements of processes. In many cases, such workshops need to be held with the IT department included, especially if working on more significant processes, such as P2P or O2C. Planning and implementing changes should be conducted together with IT.

Formalization Must Be Built-In 

Formalization is the act of making something formal by defining rules and procedures clearly. These should be clearly stated between individual steps inside the project and especially between the interfaces of business and development, and it’s always a good idea to have built-in checklists for the handover.

Formalization also means having the entire process represented visually so that we can see if there aren’t any bottlenecks or irregularities that would hamper the possible scaling of the process.

Roles: Who Gets to Do What in Automation

Automation often includes many people working on it, and there are many names for roles in automation projects. Big players in the industry, such as Celonis or UiPath, usually assign all of those roles to people working on their initiatives. However, for us, the following three roles play an essential part:

  • Automation Strategist
  • Automation Agent
  • Automation Leader

Automation Strategist

An Automation Strategist is responsible for all automation projects that are part of the business department. It is common for an Automation Strategist to be part of a functional department, and the person with the title must be familiar with all the business processes that are taking place in the department.

Suppose there’s a need for change management in relation to automation. In that case, an Automation Strategist is usually the one responsible for orchestrating it for the department where the change needs to take place.

Automation Agent

An Automation Agent is usually part of one of the special departments, and they usually work hand-in-hand with an Automation Strategist. In a sense, they can be perceived as a junior Automation Strategist, as they still need to have some knowledge about automation in general.

In many cases, their job is to prepare the needed documentation for process automation and deliver it to the Automation Strategist. Moreover, they will also have the opportunity to participate in the automation initiative by sharing ideas and solutions with others.

Automation Leader

The role of an Automation Leader is often mixed with an Automation Sponsor. However, in reality, the latter is more of a support role, and the former is responsible for the entire automation project. Ideally, they should be able to see the big picture and oversee the various details pertaining to the project, such as time, cost, investments, and more.

Final Thoughts

As part of managing a good automation project, being able to prepare it properly is an important aspect. To do that, it’s essential to understand various approaches to the project and learn how to prepare properly. Hopefully, our set of tips for automation projects helped you gain a better overview of what you need to do to become fully equipped before launching automation.

An important part of preparing for the project means understanding automation roles and assigning them to the right people who have received the relevant training and have the skills to contribute to the project.

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