Kickstarting an automation strategy and scaling it

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Seeing each discrete element of your business processes and analysing how they work is the first step in realising your automation strategy goals.

Three common goals around a game-changing automation strategy are usually these: free your workforce to be more productive elsewhere, decrease operational costs, and become a more agile organisation. They are noble objectives. They also impact one another positively and negatively, so digging into the details of how to get an automation strategy up and running is crucial.

This is where great leadership comes in, and I don't necessarily mean the head honcho at your company. I mean anyone who leads by example, such as stakeholders, department heads, strategy leaders, people managers, HR, marketing ... the list goes on. You should be able to find leaders in every corner of your business (hopefully, you have a healthy number). These people are crucial as instigators of an overall intelligent automation strategy, and they all play their part in getting the project started the right way.

By this, I mean understanding the intricacies of how automation can work effectively within your business. It's relatively easy to pilot an automation programme and see what happens. It's quite another to prepare well for how automation can help you scale all parts of your organisation so that it becomes leaner, more agile and less expensive to operate. So, to achieve all three game-changing automation strategy goals, the whole business has to see the big picture.

Scrutinising and understanding workflows

For instance, identifying and scrutinising current processes in a sales department is a good idea. Yet, if the marketing team doesn't do likewise, you'll end up creating automation silos that don't affect the whole business. Being able to have an automation process work well across all departments is the key to significant business transformation.

It's not enough to simply pilot automation and watch it work on multiple, often disparate current processes. You may come away with strange results that don't make sense, and a poor opinion of automation. Automation is only as good as the information you feed into it, so your first step should be digging into the details of current working practises. Set about tasking each department to learn everything they can about the processes they work with on a daily basis, then untangle the strands as a collective to unearth opportunities for automation.

If you don't fully understand how, where and why automation should occur, you run the risk of failing. It doesn't matter how enthusiastic you are about how your business can be transformed by automation. Enthusiasm is great, but it's no replacement for thorough scrutiny of how your business currently runs, right down to the smallest steps in your varied and multiple workflows.

Understand these workflows like the back of your hand and you will have set yourself up for a successful automation strategy that may very well see you achieve all three common objectives. Plan your deep dives today and include everyone. Create a vision of what you want the business to look like and do it in a language everyone can understand. People need to see what value automation will bring, so it's vital you do so by presenting the prospect of change in a way that enthuses and inspires people. That way, everyone can take small steps and identify potential bottlenecks before they happen. They can come up with fresh ideas that benefit other departments, and see how they will have more time and energy to commit to more pleasurable aspects of their jobs.

You may not get your first automation strategy right. But by considering the smallest elements of each process of your business, you'll be on the road to reimagining and scaling how your organisation works. And when the time comes, you can take the next step in your automation journey that uses intelligent automation to turn simple processes into sophisticated processes that truly alter the dynamics of your company.

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