In Part 1 of this article on 8 automation errors and how organisations can avoid them, we unpacked 4 such common, yet avoidable mistakes. Now we continue our discussion with 4 more errors that prevent organisations from getting the best possible benefits from their automation investments.
Not too long ago, automation was mainly associated with the manufacturing sector (hello unwieldy robotic arms). But now, it has become a key business imperative for businesses in every industry. In the coming years, automation technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning will become increasingly accessible, and more companies will adopt them to save time, cut costs, optimise resources, and move up the value chain. But along the way, many will also make mistakes that will limit the impact and benefits of automation.
#5. Resistance to change and lack of org-wide buy-in
To successfully adopt Business Process Automation (BPA), both mindset and cultural change are required. In many organisations, resistance to change holds back BPA. A 2019 study by Signavio found that over 80% of people do not want change in the workplace, and only 44% believed that change could make them more productive. The latter finding is especially worrying because increased productivity is one of the key proven benefits of automation-driven change. Moreover, resistance to change can lead to a more complex environment – which is the exact opposite goal of BPA.
These concerns are particularly entrenched in more mature, less agile organisations, where attitudes like But this is how we’ve always done it and If it ain’t broke, why fix it?, are fairly common. In such a scenario, the few lone lights trying to drive a new automation initiative usually fail.
To create change with Business Process Automation and avoid automation errors, strong leadership is absolutely vital for org-wide buy-in. A modern-day CIO and other C-Suite leaders must drive this change in a systematic manner. They must navigate the evolving automation ecosystem and select the best solutions for their enterprise. Aligning any new automation initiatives with business goals is also critical. They must also ensure that everyone in the organisation understands its potential benefits through metrics, KPIs and SMART goals.
Another solution is to build a group of influential “automation evangelists” to drive the initiative across the enterprise. Finally, leaders must cultivate a positive culture that fosters long-term automation and innovation.
#6: Doing new things the same way and expecting a different result
Some companies realise the value of automation and are willing to adopt it. But they expect that their existing infrastructure, technologies and tools will be sufficient to ensure success. More often than not, they don’t. Poorly-integrated legacy applications, disparate information sources, functional silos, cumbersome workflows, and manual inputs – all these issues are hurdles to successful automation. They also increase costs, introduce more process inefficiencies, and lower the organisation’s competitiveness.
Our article Intelligent Process Automation and its real Cost Benefits discusses this problem in detail.
First, identify your automation goals. What do you hope to achieve by automating one or more processes? Next, identify the tools and technologies that can help you meet these goals. Third, consider if your existing infrastructure, tools and functions can fit seamlessly into a new automated process. If not, it may be time for an overhaul.
#7: Drowning in data, dying of thirst
In 2017, The Economist declared that “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. In this new data economy, companies rely on data to understand their customers, develop new products or services, and gain a competitive edge.
However, the key to achieving these goals is not data alone, but data insights. Many organisations have data. What they don’t have are valuable insights to show them the big picture and guide their decision-making. This is why they’re drowning in data but dying of thirst.
Don’t just think about gathering data. Also think about mining it. Check your data sources and data accuracy. Invest in a Data Management Platform (DMP) to collect, organise, activate and analyse data from multiple sources. Other tools are also available for data decontamination, cleanup, de-duplication, validation, integration, migration, replication, business rules, etc. These tools can help improve data quality, control data flows, and get a Single Source of Truth (SSOT) to improve your decision-making, and drive the best possible outcomes with automation.
#8: Not knowing when, where or how to get help
The last error on our list of 8 automation errors and how organisations can avoid them is probably the most common among companies everywhere – not knowing when or whom to ask for help.
Many larger enterprises have the resources (people and funds) to implement an automation project in-house. But this is rarely true of smaller companies with little or no prior exposure to automation technologies. That’s why they fail to understand important issues like:
- Which processes fit the criteria for BPA
- How many bottlenecks does this process (that I’m looking to automate) have?
- How many people will be involved in the automation effort?
- Who will manage its moving parts?
- How can we maintain transparency and accountability?
- What kind of data output do I need?
- Does/will the new process comply with our security policies and industry standards?
As a result, they struggle to adopt to automation, and thus miss out on its many benefits.
If you have identified any of these issues in your organisation, bringing in external automation experts to guide you on your automatin journey is essential. They can identify which processes to automate for the best possible ROI. They can also design the automation workflow, identify dependencies, create essential documentation, manage vendor relationships, and take care of end-to-end execution. All in all, asking for help from the right expert at the right time will massively increase your chances of successful automation.
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