A common conundrum automation leaders experience is how to scale the automation program after they’ve seen the initial take off. The objective to date has been to prove the worth of automation and having delivered $1 million in benefits, you have achieved that. Now that the strategy is ready to expand enterprise wide, what’s next?
In the early stages of planning an automation strategy, outlining the benefits case is a core part of establishing a program timeline for delivering the solutions. Before diving in, it’s crucial to set goals for the business to decide how best to utilize RPA to yield meaningful results.
Once the first set of processes is delivered, the discussion shifts to scaling automation enterprise-wide. You start to see the impact and benefits roll in, be it time saved, costs avoided, errors alleviated, or employees reclaiming their time to spend on strategic and value-driven projects.
It’s a situation a lot of successful automation program managers find themselves in at a relatively early stage of the program. A set of processes are delivered, which drums up excitement as the benefits appear. The next steps may become blurry as to how to keep the momentum rolling to build out a full automation program.
Here are a few examples of common, and easy, traps that many automation leaders fall into:
The first is, of course, to simply rest on your laurels. Having delivered seven figures of automation benefits to the business, it’s easy to assume that everyone can see your worth and the next promotion is just moments away. Unfortunately, in reality, the scale of your employer is such that a million dollars is a rounding error to the CFO, appreciated certainly, but not setting the world alight.
The second, and almost the opposite to the first, is to go too broad too quickly. Selling the capability to the entire business at once based on your initial successes. This will rapidly lead to a situation in which you’re overpromising and under-delivering; your time, energy and resources are spread too thinly to achieve real value for any of your key stakeholders and business leaders rapidly become disillusioned with the whole idea of automation.
And finally, the most common pitfall of all is to rely on the business associates to bring you in the next round of candidate processes. Having demonstrated the power of automation it’s easy to assume that everyone can see the strategic worth, but the reality is that most people will have a very narrow view on how automation can help them, rather than the business as a whole. This route tends to leave you with a plethora of small, low-value options and very limited senior business engagement and sponsorship. This is how most automation programs stall out.
So, if none of those are likely to work out, what should you do instead? How best to ensure the medium and long-term success of the program and build on the momentum that the early successes have bought you?
1. Focus on building an automation pipeline in a small number of departments
Identify 1-3 core departments where you have existing relationships, strong and well-placed business champions, and a workable funding mechanism. Focus your engagements efforts here and work closely with the leaders to identify a pipeline of opportunities where you can help them meet their own strategic objectives.
2. Deliver for your customer(s)
Once you’ve found those key customers and identified those opportunities, focus 85%+ of your team’s efforts into delivering against that pipeline. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the rest of the business, but rather that you can be clear with the other associates that you have existing commitments from a highly engaged area. The benefits that span from implementing the technology and capabilities will affect their projects, giving them means to show a similar level of engagement. Delivering meaningful digitally-enabled transformation for specific value-driven business areas will give you the credibility, case studies and experience to broaden the program later. This is your solid long-term foundation and your source of authority.
3. Diversify your capabilities
The other advantage of focusing in an area is that as you get deeper you can begin to deploy ‘automation+’ programs, combining things like UiPath’s Document Understanding or supercharging RPA with artificial intelligence, to automate larger portions of more complex, and more beneficial, processes. In this way you can grow your capability and avoid simply delivering the same ‘low-hanging fruit’ pure RPA opportunities repeatedly without adding tools to your toolset. The case studies you will produce, as well as the internal knowledge of how to apply multiple transformation levers to achieve an outcome, will stand you in good stead when it comes time to broaden the program.
Read to prioritize?
If you’re looking to convert early success into a larger program and to build out your automation pipeline, contact us to discuss how our prioritized opportunity pipeline methodology can identify opportunities for your business.