Driving automation via cross-company collaboration

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In an earlier post, we pointed out that scaling automations across an enterprise requires close coordination and collaboration between an organization’s IT, operations, and business units. One recent study by Forrester Research, however, indicated that fewer than 20% of organizations regularly assessed the alignment among all these units as it related to their automation initiatives. The study also found that more than three-quarters of the organizations surveyed didn’t have an automation center of excellence (CoE).

True, establishing a CoE that concentrates business and IT automation expertise and helps set policy isn’t a hard-and-fast requirement, although it is increasingly considered a best practice. CoE or not, some organizations also differ in whether to approach automation with a centralized, top-down model, or with a more distributed model in which the departments take the lead in driving their own automation initiatives. If the individual departments aren’t operating under a common strategy and using the same automation platforms, tools, and practices, however, the result can be inefficient at best, chaotic at worst.

Growing numbers of organizations have realized that a hybrid approach to automation—one that combines both centralized and distributed elements—makes the most sense. Ideally, a centralized CoE can help set the automation policy, designate a robotic process automation (RPA) platform, and promote automation best practices. The automation CoE can then provide cross-organization oversight of all the automation activities under way and may also handle everything from automation budgets to the analysis of automations’ business benefits.

Meanwhile, much of the identification and selection of tasks suitable for automation will occur at the department level. With low-code/no-code tools, power users within each department can also build, deploy, and maintain many of the automations themselves.

For its part, the IT department must play multiple roles within the overall automation operation. IT must work closely with both the CoE and with individual departments: building some automations, scaling those that have broad employee relevance, ensuring automation security, and providing many other critical functions. The IT department, of course, will also be leveraging RPA itself to automate many of its own manual processes.

Given the complexity of managing automation activities and lifecycles across an organization, there’s good reason to establish a cross-functional team that sits even higher than the CoE itself. Such an automation steering committee should have representation from the C-suite, IT, finance, human resources (HR), compliance, and other units, as well as from the key lines of business.

Whatever operating model an organization chooses for its automation initiatives, it should meet one fundamental requirement. Once the organization has selected an automation platform to serve as the common foundation on which all cross-company automation and collaboration will occur, it must treat that platform just like every other sanctioned enterprise application in the technology stack.

UiPath customers have established a number of cross-functional team best practices and operating models when deploying the company’s automation platform within their organizations. To read a white paper that details some of their insights, go to Building Cross-Functional Collaboration for Automation Success.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.