Help IT departments know how processes work

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

We often blame IT teams for being slow to adapt to change. However, they can kick-start an automation project by knowing how a business really works.

I was reading about hyper-automation last week, a term to describe what we write about a lot here at Aito. Yes, the process of applying technology to automate tasks has a place in the business lexicon (but is yet to have its own Wikipedia entry). The process (and the term) encompasses the application of RPA, AI and ML to automate tasks, and you can make differentiations based on the level of automation used. For instance, RPA uses rules-based criteria, while machine learning and artificial intelligence approach tasks from a cognitive viewpoint, learning and adapting as data scenarios change.

Much of what I read about automation is incredibly positive. On the face of it, people see its benefits and how the correct implementation of automation can transform an organisation. In these unusual times, businesses are looking at every possible avenue to stay in the game, and automation is often cited as one of the catalysts for becoming more efficient.

The flip side is the argument that automation costs jobs, is difficult to apply, or is expensive. We go to great lengths to counter these viewpoints with fact-based evidence. Over time, we’ve come to see where the arguments come from, and surprisingly it’s often IT departments. These are usually teams we rely on to know what’s what with the technology side of the businesses we all work for. However, in many cases we’ve come across, they’re responsible for making decisions that hold companies back. And most of the time, it’s for a very simple reason.

Kick-starting an automation project

Let’s start with what a good IT department looks like and work from there.

  1. A good IT department protects companies from external threats such as hackers.
  2. A good IT department leads from the front, being a confident and innovative enabler.
  3. A good IT department makes sure colleagues are up to speed with the latest security protocols, software updates, and so on. They are educators.

An inefficient, poorly functioning IT department is the opposite of everything above. It may prevent hackers, but may also prevent employees from enjoying the benefits of better working practices. IT may also react to problems and issues, but not suggest new ways to improve efficiency. IT may not value knowledge-sharing, preferring to keep information on a need-to-know basis.

When technology departments play such a key role in deciding whether to use hyper-automation or not, it’s imperative they are empowered with the right information. By this, I don’t mean the technology itself, but the processes IT needs to know about so that informed decisions can be made. The right decisions. In this regard, there’s a role for every department to play in communicating how tasks are performed and how processes work.

Connecting the dots

That good IT department we talked about would know what questions to ask, what processes to inspect, what minutiae to dig into. They would liaise with every single department in an organisation to fully understand the kinks, so that the correct automation can be applied and the best outcome can be achieved. Knowledge is shared right across the business, making the task of kick-starting an automation project less daunting.

To have a good IT department, every department needs to be good! That sounds daunting, doesn’t it? If a business doesn’t foster a culture of reciprocity between teams, it’s much more difficult to apply a hyper-automation project and make it work. The idea is to make our lives easier. We can all help IT teams by sharing processes with them, so they can make more informed decisions over the future of hyper-automation within the business.

To help an IT department (or anyone tasked with making the tough calls where business technology is concerned), focus your attention on transforming your business culture. Become automation enablers. Become innovation enablers.

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