5 Key Considerations When Starting an Automation Project

Apr 28, 2022
Business Process Management Digital Transformation Systems Integrators

Set your organization up for automation to deliver not only success in the eyes of key stakeholders, but also significant business value.

Credit: Rocket Software

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

The allure of automation to improve business processes and make more meaningful connections with customers continues to draw IT and business leaders in. According to a Deloitte report, 73% of respondents said their organizations have embarked on a path to intelligent automation and they predict that robotic process automation (RPA) will reach almost universal adoption sometime in 2023. However, as the scale and scope of investment in automation grows, so does visibility and scrutiny.

For automation projects to be a success, business leaders must sell the project internally, including selling the strategy to organizational leaders and the associated teams charged with implementation. One way of becoming ready to have these conversations is to ensure that the team driving the automation project has thought holistically about the value it is meant to deliver.

Here are five key considerations to evaluate when setting up an organization for automation to deliver not only success in the eyes of key stakeholders but also significant business value.

1. Clearly define success

The most important step when embarking on an automation project is to clearly define what success looks like. This is a key metric where the economic value of automation should be easy to calculate, simple to define and easily understood within the organization. For example, an insurance company may want to increase claim automation rates or operational first pass rates from 55% to 75% within the calendar year. This clear example helps teams know how to measure the benefits of the automation project from the start, keeping the team on track and focused on achieving a specific goal.  

2. Understand the cost

Of course, understanding all of the cost implications of an automation project is critical. Key questions to ask about the costs associated with automation projects include:  

  • How much do the software, robots, training, initial implementation and automation discovery cost?
  • Are there benefits that ML and AI can provide when determining which tasks and processes are prime candidates for automation?
  • How much labor will be saved with the implementation of automation?
  • How can implementing a digital worker enable your existing employees to be more effective in their current roles and therefore save costs?

By determining the answers to these questions, leaders can determine which projects offer the most benefit from a time and processing perspective so that project selection can be prioritized to maximize value. Leaders will also be able to more clearly understand the value of removing repetitive tasks for employees and instead have them focus on tasks that require creative thinking and problem solving. Knowing the cost in both time saved and compute resources will allow for a calculation of the economic and productivity benefits of an automation project.

3. Determine the competitive landscape

Regardless of the business someone is in, keeping an eye on competition will help continually raise the bar when it comes to productivity and service. Speed for many organizations is viewed as a competitive advantage. Take insurance companies processing claims, for example: approval and successful payment is critical in retaining customers. Consider what other processes may be quicker with automation and give your organization an edge over other players. Automation can help serve the needs of providing more frequent customer touchpoints and help meet higher service level demands.

4. Consider the customer impact

In today’s world, customers have endless choices with which vendor they choose. Failure to meet market expectations in terms of speed and self-service communication can lead to a sharp decrease in customer loyalty. According to PwC, even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, and 17% after just one bad experience. Leveraging automation projects to improve communication and response time to customers is a critical tool for success. There’s a major economic benefit to a lower churn rate – the rate at which customers stop doing business with a company over a given period of time. Considering the value of each customer and accounting for improved customer retention allows organizations to have a holistic view on the automation’s value beyond internal productivity benefits and speed of processing.

5. Communicate the value to employees

Communicating the value of automation to employees is key for the success of an automation project. Without employee buy in, automation projects can fall by the wayside. According to one report, the average global time people spend on duplicate tasks per week is 4 hours and 38 minutes, which amounts to about 10% of people’s time at work. Implementing education programs in concert with automation projects is one way to access the full benefits of the automation. Well-trained and well-informed employees can boost the entire project not only by properly leveraging automation themselves, but also by championing the advantages to the rest of the organization.

Automation continues to change how businesses operate. By keeping the myriad positive impacts of automation projects at the forefront of conversations and planning, leaders are likely to have an easier time receiving buy-in from all necessary stakeholders.

For more information about automation projects, click here.