Approximately one in three organisations succeed in automation. They all share one thing: they run automation like a business. I have led automation operations in a large organisation, and the challenges are painfully familiar. So, why and how can you run smart automation like a business?
If one in three succeeds in automation, two-thirds fail. For those who succeed, automation brings significant benefits when scaled. Invoicing and project lead times are improved, for example. For the less fortunate, automation remains at the level of individual tasks and its benefits will not reach large scale, either.
How exactly do you run automation like a business, then? In a word: strategically. Automation requires a strategy that defines why you automate, what are the objectives to be measured and how their implementation is monitored. Being smart with resources is also important: What is the focus on? How do you spread the good news of automation throughout your organisation and engage key people in change? Automation should also be managed with profits in mind – technology must bring more benefits than the money and resources invested in it.
IT would like to solve problems with technology when the focus should be on people
A typical approach for organisations is to solve challenges technology-first. However, technology-driven management doesn’t work: your people are not interested in technology – they want to know what it can do for them. For this reason, change and operation must be managed, not the application or the system. The right keys to success are systematic management and a change in employees’ skills and attitudes.
Many IT organisations are wrestling with the integration of technologies. They often focus more on technology know-how and less on internal sales, communication, and change management. However, a change in people’s mindsets and activities needs stories, names, faces, and emotions to happen.
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It is easier to change the way of thinking in your organisation, if the senior management can support and drive forward the message by explaining how the organisation will minimise administrative work through automation or take a pioneering position in the market through the growing efficiency provided by automation, for example. When your organisation’s people – the internal customers – have good experiences with automation, change happens more easily.
In addition to successful implementation, it is important to prove the benefits of automation, such as free working hours, accelerated project lead, or improved invoicing. Smart automation is more of a paradigm shift than app ownership. IT, are you ready to put on your sales pants?
Jani Rahja is an experienced professional whose passion is to combine the potential of technology with the development of organisations’ capabilities and operational excellence.