Enterprise-wide Automation Requires Adept Change Management

BrandPost By Dwight Davis
Aug 19, 2021
Technology Industry

An automation first approach can speed business benefits, while also making it easier for employees to understand and embrace the positive changes RPA can make to their daily routines.

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Credit: iStock

In the early days of computing, organizations often operated their IT departments as isolated units that had only limited interactions with the business units they supported. As such, it wasn’t unusual to find initiatives that were as much technology-driven as business-driven, which sometimes led to disconnects between IT capabilities and specific business needs.

Exacerbating matters was the rapid speed of technological evolution, which often left organizations and their employees struggling to keep pace.

Fortunately, most organizations today have bridged the gap that once existed between their IT and business units, with tight collaboration now the norm. Most have also come to realize the importance of implementing strong change management programs to help their employees understand, appreciate, and exploit the benefits that new IT solutions can provide.

Change management has emerged as a particularly important element in the automation initiatives sweeping across the business landscape. Advances in robotic process automation (RPA) solutions are making it easy and practical to automate a wide range of tasks that emulate human behaviors at the user interface level. But sophisticated RPA technology alone isn’t enough to deliver optimal enterprise automation. Enterprise-wide automation requires an approach that is human-centric yet technology-empowered.

Organizations need a well-thought-out and executed change management strategy to engage with their employees throughout the automation journey. After all, some employees may fear automation could threaten, rather than enhance, their jobs. Even workers who understand that RPA can automate many of their most mundane and annoying tasks will still need guidance in how to best transition to a world in which automated assistants become commonplace.

That’s why organizations that are creating automation centers of excellence (CoEs) must include change management specialists as part of their CoE teams. These specialists can engage closely with business unit managers and employees to explain the benefits automation can deliver. But the scenarios they describe must include information about granular, employee-specific job improvements as well as the broad business benefits the organization aims to achieve.

Individual employees who learn how automation can make their specific roles more enjoyable and meaningful can become enthusiastic backers of and participants in these initiatives. As noted in an earlier post, many will become active in identifying – and even implementing – key process automations.

As part of their automation change management initiatives, organizations must also decide which of two fundamentally different approaches to take. Should they first analyze, re-engineer, and optimize their existing processes before automating elements of them? Or should they pursue an “automation first” approach in which existing manual processes are partially or fully automated?

Growing numbers of organizations are realizing the advantages of following an automation first approach. Contrary to the top-down process analysis and optimization model, automation first allows a bottoms-up approach in which individual employees can participate in identifying task automation candidates. Automation first can also deliver immediate process improvements, as well as quick boosts in employee satisfaction.

From a change management perspective, an automation first approach also has the advantage of introducing automation more gradually and naturally into employees’ work routines. After all, they’re simply automating elements of the processes that they already know well, rather than having to learn entirely new processes that will also have automated stages of their own.

Obviously, organizations must continuously assess their processes at a high level to identify inefficiencies and ways to improve workflows. But that ongoing analysis shouldn’t prevent them from getting faster time to value by quickly automating existing manual tasks that can be onerous, error-prone, and unproductive.

The UiPath Platform makes it easy for organizations to implement automation-first initiatives that help employees understand, appreciate, and support the positive changes that RPA can deliver. For further information, see this page.