Discover how to future proof your Intelligent Automation Centre of Expertise | 30 Experts Guide to Happy Ever After – Part 3
Business transformation requires organizations to establish Centres of Excellence (CoE) to deliver and support critical business capabilities. A Centre of Excellence (CoE) is a team of skilled knowledge workers whose mission is to provide the organization they work for with best practices around a particular area of interest. Part 1 of our expert series looked What does a Centre of Excellence do? Part 2 looked at the pros and cons of alternate CoE models. Today we look at the conditions that must exist for a CoE to be successful.
What business conditions must exist for a CoE to be successful?
A CoE does not operate in isolation. It is very much dependent upon the business and IT. There are several prerequisites that must be in place for an automation CoE to work.
1. The organisation must be ready for change. Culture is key. A siloed, politically dysfunctional organisation that actively or passively resists changes is not an opportune business to complete an end to end digital and automation transformation or change program.
“The CoE plays an important role in transforming the culture within an organisation through strong communication channels and clear training for the business functions”Faisal Iftikhar, VP and Global Head of Automation
2. Automation should be a top 5 strategic priority with a key slot on the executive and board agenda.
“It is important to make Enterprise Automation a Strategic priority for you to succeed. All the stakeholders should jointly own the results. This is easier if this is a strategic direction and everyone is rowing in the same direction. This is easier said than done though with the competing objectives of different stakeholders. It is a balancing act at the end of the day but is a very tough act if automation is not a priority for the organization.”Nandan Mullakara, Helping businesses be 10X more productive using RPA and AI.
3. There should be a proactive and highly supportive Executive sponsor driving the automation agenda.
“Start with the Executive team and get an understanding of their overarching goals for your transformation. Then use those to set milestones and goals that are achievable and measurable. As you move through your Transformation, use those goals as an opportunity for transparency. Every lesson learned and applied allows you to recalibrate your efforts and adjust expectations. Helping your team to understand the iterative process of true transformation will help you pivot quickly and maximize your innovation efforts.”Ema Roloff, Digital Transformation Navigator
4. Every member of the business should have an automation KPI built into their department and personal goals.
“Don’t just think about KPIs just related to savings, like saved hours, or reduced costs. How can automation be used to increase revenue in your business? Consider and measure increased throughput, improved quality and a better customer experience.”Arif Khan, Customer Success Manager
5. The organisation should have a digital and automation strategy.
6. Business processes that add zero value must be terminated before automation.
“RPA does not automate people’s jobs – it automates routine work.”Pavani Koudri, RPA & AI Architect
7. If a core system can be altered to implement automation cost-effectively, then executing this process is more of a priority for an effective IA | RPA implementation.
8. Were processes are currently outsourced to third-party providers, then the automation CoE must use the appropriate delivery methodology to provide robotics within the outsourced operation.
9. If organisations want a CoE to be an actual driver of innovation and digital transformation, then adequate planning is critical. Implementing IA | RPA throughout an organization could lead to profound structural changes (e.g. there should be a plan to reassign employee tasks or departments rather than letting them go). Planning for structural changes allows you to differentiate between the tasks that are to be performed by a human workforce and tasks that are to be completed by automation. It also includes a clear communication strategy to clear employees’ worries and fuel innovation. The plan must also include a full description of where and how a digital workforce will operate such that employees know how and when to use it.
“There is a lot of hysteria around job losses due to Automation. So, it becomes especially important to plan and manage communications. I would start by defining the roles of the stakeholders clearly. Have a plan that involves supporting teams like IT, Audit/Compliance and Procurement as early as possible. As with any initiative, there would be resistance from various levels and groups.
It is important to understand the concern and address at each level and early. We have seen resistance from mid-level managers mostly as well as people working on the tasks. It is important to educate and communicate to raise awareness of automation and its benefits. This can help improve buy-in on automation.”Nandan Mullakara, Helping businesses be 10X more productive using RPA and AI.
10. Decide on premise or in the Cloud installation – consideration is whether your business should host the digital workforce on local data servers or on the cloud. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, which can be why many companies choose to use a hybrid model that is customized to suit their needs. The hybrid option could have some digital workers operating from local data centres while others operate in the cloud.
“Application access from cloud servers – plus rewrite security procedures for Bots; amend active directory to provide a ‘bot’ profile e.g. don’t auto reboot or patch; avoid messages before login; etc.”Pavani Koudri, RPA & AI Architect
11. Determine success metrics early in the IA | RPA program is crucial for successful companies. Cost reduction, increased efficiency, and accuracy are some of the most apparent success metrics but, depending on what the automation CoE is being used for, several other factors will be involved. These could include innovation, customer satisfaction, scaling, and more.
12. Focus on people and their creativity. Investing in customer and employee experience is essential, and a CoE must be used in a way that simplifies processes and makes them faster, less mundane and more enjoyable to complete. Human workers and digital workers can both complete transactional workflow tasks, but only the first can use their creativity and intuition to grow the business.
“RPA is still more about the people than the technology.”Balint Laszlo Papp
Setting up a CoE that encourages employees to create rather than stagnate is vital to a successful program. A functional automation CoE setup frees up human time spent on routine tasks, allowing ground-level employees to innovate. At the same time, subject matter experts can further use automation to help their creative endeavours.
“Ultimately if an Automation COE team has proven experience, there is nothing that through the choice and combination of different technologies that they couldn’t automate. Nonetheless the human element of Automation is crucial to their success. It is important to make Automation as inclusive a program as possible for it to truly embed itself into the company’s DNA”Danilo McGarry, Head of Automation and International Keynote Speaker
COEs are designed to drive innovation and improvement. They also create a structure that encourages the different members of the organisation to measure, experiment, and push it forward. However, the conditions must be right for a CoE to be successful. There are no shortcuts to success.
What conditions do you believe necessary for a Centre of Excellence to succeed?
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