You Know Automation Can Help You Grow, But Are You Struggling to Get Started?

Routinely, organisations are doing innovative things – but in silos.

They’re solving point problems in various departments (HR/marketing/finance, etc.) with automation – but to grow the business holistically, automation needs to be a strategic objective. To achieve this, effective integration and scaling is needed – i.e. taking these siloed innovations and leveraging them across the company to fuel growth.

A recent report from HFS Research found that most businesses have yet to scale their Intelligent Automation programmes, and that some 90 percent aren’t taking an integrated approach. The greatest barriers they face include the absence of a clear organisational vision and a talent gap. Until those are overcome, these companies will be hard-pressed to achieve an integrated Intelligent Automation solution that effectively scales.

Enterprises can overcome these obstacles by following a simple, methodical framework, which will allow them to successfully integrate Intelligent Automation without getting intercepted by the silos or the pitfalls. 

Intelligent Automation integration requires a step-by-step approach 

Often organisations try to integrate Intelligent Automation across the business in one fell swoop – akin to the idea of attempting to ‘eat the whole elephant’ in one go. This is likely fraught with delays, if not failure.  Taking the integration process one step at a time, beginning by defining the programme in a way that the entire organisation can understand and embrace will deliver better results. 

There are three areas that must be addressed for successful Intelligent Automation execution:

The ‘why’: According to HFS, integrated Intelligent Automation is described as “the effective melding of technology, talent, organisational change and leadership to achieve exponential outcomes.” To integrate these dynamics successfully, enterprises require a clear strategy and leadership mandate that explains why Intelligent Automation is important for the entire company, in the first place. 

The ‘what’: The problem with siloed approaches that are focused on specific tasks or processes is that they don’t scale. Hence, an enterprise-wide view is needed. In doing so, organisations will be able to identify the best practices in the business and combine them with technologies for greater benefits across departments. 

The ‘how’: While digital technology is important, human talent still plays a critical role. When organizations find the right balance between human talent and digital workers, employees can spend more time on value-adding, strategic projects that can’t be handled by their digital colleagues. 

With the above in place, following this straightforward framework will deliver success:

Assemble the appropriate team

The team should include representation from across the business and from the top –  Board and executive lever, IT, as well as business and process owners (customer service, marketing, sales, finance, accounting, HR, operations, etc.) who deal with manual practices and have a vested interest in change. The involvement of external stakeholders, such as suppliers and vendors who are impacted by your processes, is critical too. While they may not get a final vote, their opinion is important to making smart decisions around automation. 

Make a convincing argument for integrating Intelligent Automation

Fearing change in a natural and instinctive sentiment in humans. Clearly demonstrate automation’s value while appealing to people’s emotions. Paint a picture of what success looks like. Foremost, how will it benefit them individually? How will automation improve the customer and employee experience? Share predicted outcomes such as better data accuracy, cost savings and improved processing times to support the argument.  

Highlight the areas where automation will have the greatest impact and identify the business goals it will help to achieve. Determine where the company will see the biggest benefit. For instance, it could be that pricing will become more competitive, or that compliance reporting will become easier and so on. These claims must be supported by quantitative (e.g. cost reduction by 15 percent) and qualitative (enhanced customer service) reasons for automation.

With the argument made, thoroughly research potential vendors, making a list of those that provide an integrated and scalable platform across multiple automation technologies. 

Take the first step

Start small by focusing first on a proof of concept. Choose a simple, yet impactful, use case because small projects quickly yield results. Once optimised, immediately scale. For example, if automating the onboarding process for one vendor, be ready to automate across all vendors. Subsequently expand. So, first prioritise areas identified across the enterprise and then deploy, optimise and scale. 

Genuine success is more than cost savings and technology adoption

Scalability demands a cross-sectional team of leaders who take the message of Intelligent Automation and elevate it above technology and mere cost savings.  Intrinsic organisational benefits like improved vendor and partner relationships, and a more engaged workforce with better morale are also important success markers for any business-wide digital transformation initiative.

When integrating Intelligent Automation at scale is done right, organisations are rewarded with the opportunity to expand their programmes and work like tomorrow, today.  It’s good to start small and prove the concept initially, but it’s when people, processes and technology come together and the proof of concept is replicated across the business is when the real, quantifiable success is achieved.   

About the Author

Tyler Suss, Product Marketing Director, Intelligent Automation, at Kofax. Kofax intelligent automation solutions help organizations transform information-intensive business processes, reduce manual work and errors, minimize cost, and improve customer engagement. We combine RPA, cognitive capture, mobility & engagement, process orchestration, analytics capabilities and professional services in one solution.

Featured image: ©greenbutterfly

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