This article aims to answer the question “what is a benefit of developing an automation strategy?” We outline things to think about before and during your automation implementation.
The word ‘automation’ no longer triggers images of robots rendering human contribution to business irrelevant. Instead, automation is now an essential aspect of business success that enables organizations to implement proactive business activities. It is hard not to hear business leaders and managers commenting on how automation address business challenges such as reducing cost, increasing efficiency, and improving the entire business process.
For many businesses, automation has become a marathon race where organizations must keep up to date with the latest trends in technology. This may sound like a noble pursuit until it fails due to haste in implementing automation without considering inherent challenges.
Automation is a complex process that needs close examination and tweaking for successful implementation. Therefore, business leaders must consider “What is a benefit of developing an automation strategy?” before embarking on the automation process. Although automation can provide multiple benefits, whether your business realizes the benefits depends on whether you have a feasible automation strategy.
While there is no one-fit-all automation strategy, this article highlights the benefits you can reap from an automation strategy.
How do You Develop an Effective Automation Strategy?
If you’re a business leader, you already know that without a feasible automation strategy, you’re likely to waste a lot of time and resources on automating repetitive tasks and processes that may not yield intended results or take advantage of new opportunities for automation.
First things first! To realize the benefit of automation, you must ask, “What is the first step to approaching automation?” “What is the best effort when approaching an automation practice?” You must develop a strategy that will guide the process efficiently. The organization-wide automation vision must be at the center of the strategy.
In short, to develop an effective automation strategy, you need to consider a systematic and measured approach that can deliver the benefits of automation. So, rather than jumping head-first into automation without a clear deployment or management plan, here are what to consider for a winning automation strategy.
What Do You Want to Automate?
Sometimes it’s tempting for organizations to imagine they can automate everything simultaneously, but no one does that. There will always be some processes with the critical need to automate, and others you will want to operate manually because they are nonessential or you lack tools to automate. One reason automation fails in many businesses is attempting to do many things simultaneously.
Instead, setting achievable goals and objectives and focusing your effort on important tasks is essential. This only happens when businesses establish priorities and set clear targets about what they intend to achieve with automation.
To set a straightforward workflow automation strategy, it is essential to meet stakeholders ahead of time. This will allow you to identify the potential benefits before you decide what processes to automate. The choices for these processes should be based on how they aid better business and the efficiency to achieve automation.
Evaluate the technology resources and human capital deployed to work on automation. Determine whether your organization has sufficient resources to implement all the selected automation processes.
Many businesses starting automation face challenges in deciding what they want to automate. Identifying redundant activities and automating them first can be a good start. For instance, if employees spend a lot of time updating data repeatedly, this could be a specific area to automate.
Without a clear objective on what to automate, it can be challenging to measure the success of your automation strategy.
Why Are You Automating?
When assessing the benefit of an automation strategy, this is an important question to consider before embarking on an automation journey. Your reason to automate should never be “because our competitors are automating” or “because automation is good.” Instead, be specific on the business outcomes you want to achieve.
There are various rationales for business automation:
- Increase efficiency
- Reduce cost
- Speed up workflow
- Improve customer service
By establishing specific rationales you want to automate, you prevent a situation where you find your business with a vague automation agenda that cannot be critically analyzed. A vague agenda inhibits the ability to justify business automation investments.
Who Are the Automation Stakeholders?
How you identify important stakeholders in automation is one of the vital decisions in an organization. Like any other organizational change, automation can affect how various teams operate. It is crucial to Identify the people involved in automation and how the business process will affect their roles.
There isn’t a one size fits all solution. Each element of intelligent automation affects organizations and stakeholders differently. Stakeholders involved in one automated process may be different from the next.
Most of the technical team members for each automation will differ depending on the required skills and expertise. For instance, if you decide on security automation, you may consider security teams, network engineers, developers, and IT engineers as stakeholders.
Although automation teams can be different in the context of an automation strategy, what is a center of excellence? How you set your center of excellence (CoE) is a significant business decision.
The CoE must have the business owner’s needs at its core and the technical skillset for automation.
Do You Have the Right Technology and Toolsets?
Remember, implementing an automation system requires the right technology and toolset. Hence, ensuring these factors are available is critical in developing a strategy.
But, with many tools and automation software available, there is no single-fits-all technology. There are multiple tools and software in the market, so research is best to determine which can fit your needs effectively.
Some tools and software products may be more efficient in some aspects than others. For example, robotic process automation (RPA) can effectively integrate automation across various platforms.
On the other hand, an application programming interface (API) can be more effective on single or fewer platforms. Some technologies can be more complex to use than others, so understanding the team’s skills and expertise can help make the best selection.
Other factors to consider when selecting tools and automation technology include:
- Cost of the software and tools needed
- Time required to achieve process automation
- Challenges for handling the tools and software that need to be addressed
- Automation tool stability and security
By assessing various tools that can facilitate automation and increase a given process’s return on investment (ROI), you can select the best tools and technologies for business process automation.
A well-developed strategy will include technologies and tools that produce desired results without creating complexity in maintenance.
How Do You Benchmark Automation?
You might have heard the phrase, “you can never improve what you can’t measure.” This is true in the case of automation. If your automation aims at replacing one tedious process with another, there is no need to create automation systems in the first place. This is why it is essential to develop a system that provides a clear framework for benchmarking and tracking the progress of automation.
A feasible strategy must focus on measurable processes and benefits to give you a clear view of success. The tracking framework can help visualize the results of your automation solution midway through the project.
What Are Your Ethical Considerations?
Automation is just another aspect of a business. Similar to conventional business operations, ethical considerations should be at the center when developing an automation framework.
Unfortunately, in the era of automation, many companies have been caught in the mix for willingly or unwillingly failing to protect customer data during automation. Therefore, protecting critical data, including how you use it during automation, must be a priority for the strategy.
Ethical consideration during automation is where the technological supremacy battle is won or lost. Although you may have planned your automation effectively, what is a benefit of developing an automation strategy that can’t protect critical data?
No one wants to receive spam emails after your organization leaks their information after automation. However, spam emails are a significant problem that affects business relationships with their target audience.
However, an effective automation strategy considers the security of stakeholders’ data to ensure their rights are not violated by activities resulting from automation. The most effective strategy considers anchoring the overall automation process on anti-spam regulations.
How Do You not Just Automate but Improve?
The aim of automation is not just to help save money and time but to improve complete workflow in the entire business process. When developing an effective business strategy, the last question is whether automation is intended for basic benefits such as cost saving and time efficiency only.
While these are basic considerations, an effective strategy considers the overall effect of automation on business. Automation involves making people more productive and efficient. Hence, budget saving and time efficiency are just byproducts of a feasible strategy.
An automation project without maximizing its effects on an entire organization produces undesirable results. For instance, if you automate a broken process, you’re just enabling it to produce negative results faster than before. However, if you focus on the big picture, you can improve operations in the entire organization.
Hence, a successful automation strategy must focus on the immediate benefits and improvements the automation can bring to entire business operations.
Is Your Business Ready for Automation?
After developing a feasible automation strategy, it is time to assess your business readiness for automation. Despite how good an automation strategy may appear on the surface, its successful implementation depends on the readiness of the entire organization to embrace changes to be affected by automation.
As we mentioned earlier, the rationale for automation should not boil down to “because automation is good for business.” Each business is unique not only in the products and services it provides but also goals and objectives, missions and visions. No two competitors have similar goals and objectives for automation.
You need to consider important factors to determine whether your business is ready to implement an automation strategy.
Automation can be a complex and expensive process, even for large organizations. You will need to replace any tool and machine that cannot function under the new technology. This entails a heavy budget depending on the planned automation process.
Automation can be cost-intensive both upfront and in the long run. As the project progresses, you can most likely incur unexpected additional costs. Hence, when addressing what is a benefit of developing an automation strategy, it is important to assess the financial needs of your automation before implementation.
Considering both immediate and long-term costs of running the project can help determine whether you can afford to get started with automation.
Not everyone will be involved in developing an automation strategy. Still, you will need all employees on board during implementation – even those who may not be affected by automation directly.
One main reason employees resist automation is the fear of losing their jobs. Whether employees are directly or indirectly affected by automation, they will always consider their roles in line with automation. However vital an automation strategy is, implementing it without all employees on board risks substantial failure on the way.
You will have to address what is the benefit of developing an automation strategy in terms of increasing their productivity. Addressing the fears and concerns proactively is essential to preparing your employees for automation.
When you have all employees on board, it becomes easier to implement the project and solve other issues. It also gives you the green light to proceed with automation.
Once you have the budget and employees on board, you can consider getting started on your automation journey. The only thing remaining is a timeline for implementation. It is essential to review your timeline to ensure everything is set as per the strategy.
Reviewing the timeline confirms that all stakeholders are conversant with their roles and the project’s status at any given time.
The timeline can also help to determine whether you have an effective plan to deal with roadblocks along the way. If your timeline looks good and all stakeholders are ready, it may be the perfect moment to implement automation.
Implement Your Automation Strategy With IncWorx Consulting
Developing and implementing an automation strategy is a complex process. Some organizations implement automation without a clear plan of what they want to achieve. This becomes a significant challenge in determining what is the benefit of developing an automation strategy.
But with the right help, an automation strategy establishes the foundation to increase efficiency and productivity in business. We help organizations utilizing Microsoft technology to implement an automation strategy. We use Microsoft Power Automate to help our clients implement automation efficiently.