When speaking to our clients, all of them deal with different automation challenges. But in the end, they can be categorized and grouped.
1. Implement the right solution
Companies are being approached on a daily basis by software vendors with great solutions that should solve all their business issues. It comes with many features out-of-box, great flexibility, and support. So what’s wrong?
One of the reasons is that big corporations have typically complex processes, across many systems and departments. They are well described and known by their owners. Then the question is, if they are properly executed by process users, every little difference in the process execution might end up in data inconsistency. And occasions like acquisitions/merges do change the game, too. In order to succeed in the implementation, tailoring (a lot of customizations and development of the software) has to happen. But things like support (of customized code), software update compatibility, etc are often forgotten. Does this ring any bell? :-)
The other option is to implement the solution in-house, which will be tailored exactly to the company environment and requirements. It starts with hiring a team of developers, project managers (and possibly others) with one mission – to deliver the working solution, as soon as possible. Is that enough?
One of the challenges might be whether the chosen technology is sustainable, and will be ready to serve the long-term company automation and innovation strategy (topic nr. 3 :-)). Will the solution be quick enough to meet the user expectations (ms vs seconds vs. minutes). Will a user have a satisfactory level of control, to pause it, when things go wrong? Is enough security in place? If users are not happy with the solution, they will usually try to avoid it, or go their own direction (off the strategy).
2. Legacy systems
Many companies nowadays still have to deal with legacy systems, which are many years old, and they do the best to keep them up and running (= not to touch them, if not needed). These systems are usually no longer supported and developed, but still, have to be used to operate a service/process. Question is, how can that process be automated if there is no API? Maybe, the solution is to leave that part for the manual user action, and continue the rest of the process automatically. But let’s not forget about robots! (RPA)
RPA can also be utilized to connect partner systems (without API possibilities) into the automated process, or simply everywhere, where you cannot use a code-based access.
3. Missing strategy
The automation strategy has to be aligned with the innovation strategy and company long-term portfolio offerings and plans. If that’s not the case, and there is no clear plan and strategy, people often start doing work in silos, which is causing a lot of overlapping work being done (costs spent), and difficulty to have an overview of implemented solutions (not speaking about supporting & updating them). We have seen that sometimes different teams implement different solutions (without knowing it) in order to meet the same goal.
The strategy should also be aligned cross-department and cross-process. It has to be clear for everyone, which solutions are in place, what they do, who is responsible for it, and last but not least, if there is a new requirement, who to talk to (to avoid self-implementations).
4. ROI not measured
After all the big investments into the right solution, the right teams and implementing the right strategy, everyone’s happy that the company is able to keep the pace with the competition, it has a good level of automation, and they’re ready for higher loads and demands. But has anyone asked the question, does it really meet the expectations defined in the beginning? Is it bringing the value the company was after? And does someone measure, what impact it has on people, whether they’re happy with the solutions implemented?
The important thing is to understand that employees use the tools and impact the outcomes of the automation. Their continuous feedback is very important to improve the automation, especially from the beginning. It’s the only way to maintain the accuracy, and the overall quality of the (automated) process execution.
Measuring the cost saving is very much related to the people aspect. In order to save cost, the automation needs to be working and functioning very well. If it is, it should be measured, ideally real-time, with a level of reporting on top, in order to be able to review the achievements vs. plannings. Who wouldn’t like to look at real-time measured cost savings, especially if they are at least 7 digits long? :-)
Feel free to reach out to us anytime to discuss how we handle these challenges for our clients. We’re happy to listen, learn, explain, talk, brainstorm… :-)