The Benefits and Risks of Automation Centres of Excellence
Published on : Tuesday 01-02-2022
While the pandemic served as a catalyst for the adoption of automation, organisations must think about automation’s role in the long run, cautions Erik Severinghaus.
Process automation is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. Business leaders attempt to rectify operational inefficiencies with automation they know little about. These misguided and uneducated decisions can create more inaccuracy, causing organisations to lose valuable time and money. According to a McKinsey Global Survey1, automation has become crucial to the success of an organisation, forcing businesses to adopt the technology quickly to remain competitive in their industries.
As a result, automation Centres of Excellence2 (CoE) are emerging in enterprise organisations across the globe. CoEs include experts from different departments within a company who help leadership make informed decisions about the type of technology they implement. A survey of 100 IT leaders3 found that when organisations implement the appropriate automation technology, departments across the business can save upwards of 10-15% on costs previously incurred by manual processes.
While CoEs can prove beneficial, there is also risk of failure as they require time and patience from both business leaders and employees. With this in mind, business leaders should understand how to properly implement an automation centre of excellence, as well as the risks and rewards associated with one.
How to implement Centres of Excellence
Automation is growing in speed and volume. Organisations that seek rapid implementation, ease of use and high return on investment gravitate towards automation technologies. According to Salesforce, 95% of IT leaders claim their organisation prioritises process automation right now, including 21% who say it is a high-priority initiative. Unfortunately, automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution and requires research and the right partner to deliver on its promises.
Leadership must make several informed decisions when establishing an automation CoE in their organisation, including who should be included on the team, how to improve processes and ways to guarantee success continuously.
1. Define Rules and Best Practices: Automation should easily adapt to changes in business. Defining a clear set of rules and best practices allows CoE experts to choose an automation technology that can quickly and easily adapt to intended and unexpected changes in an organisation.
2. Assemble a Team Best Suited for Innovation: A team that embraces innovation will drive the implementation and adoption of automation throughout an organisation. Each team member must be comfortable with regularly calculating risks and experiencing failure to deliver improvements organisation-wide.
3. Establish the ‘Need-to-Know’: Automation is more than its physical capabilities. CoE teams can determine if a particular solution is a right fit for an organisation by determining its value in three areas: the complexity of the integration, suitability with existing solutions and processes and the value it can provide a business.
Benefits of Centres of Excellence
A successful CoE requires input from appointed experts to impact a company’s bottom line and improve operations. Sixty-one percent of companies4 believe collaboration across functions, paired with faster decision-making, is the solution to reaching strategic goals. CoEs streamline decision-making and create a baseline for processes, including best practices for implementation, employee training and departmental adoption across an organisation. Additional benefits include:
a. Efficient and Effective Use of Resources: Automation CoEs can maximise the use of money, materials, staff and resources in an organisation.
b. Quality of Product and Service: Implementing the right automation solutions can eliminate human error, consistently identify errors, and improve accuracy.
c. Reduce Operational Costs: CoEs can help eliminate inefficient practices and reduce the time it takes to implement new technology, such as employee training.
d. Improve Workflow and Employee Training: CoE specialists can improve how employees work by sharing effective techniques and supporting team-wide and individualised learning.
Why Centres of Excellence fail
Organisations are eager to adopt automation. According to McKinsey, approximately 66% of organisations were piloting automation in 2020. However, implementing automation technology that does not complement or successfully replace existing processes without human intervention can cause more harm than good. For example companies interested in replacing manual order processes with order automation must ensure the technology can provide 100% accuracy with zero human intervention. If not, the organisation does not save time or money, wasting both of these valuable resources instead.
The pandemic served as a catalyst for the adoption of automation. Deloitte reported 68% of business leaders5 used automation in response to Covid-19 and continue to leverage the solutions to combat a shortfall of employees and maintain daily workflows. However, implementing automation to cope with a siloed problem can create more work and issues for employees. Organisations must think about automation’s role in the long run. If not, they are at risk of failing. Additional reasons why CoEs fail include:
i. Using the wrong tools to solve different problems
ii. A lack of real-time visibility, including the type of work being done and the progress of a task
iii. The inability to access and deploy resources in and outside of an organisation, and
iv. Choosing solutions that do not provide 100% accuracy, forcing human intervention to an otherwise fully automated process.
B2B companies must be mindful of the technology they implement. According to Forrester, approximately one-third of tasks are currently automated6 across an organisation. With room to grow, business leaders can dedicate resources, including an automation CoE, to make informed decisions about the technology that is best suited to their organisation.
Erik Severinghaus is the executive VP of business & strategy at Conexiom, the sales order automation solution. He has more than 20 years of leadership building B2B SaaS companies focused on eCommerce, automation, and machine learning. His focus is on building a vibrant partner ecosystem for order automation globally. https://www.linkedin.com/in/erikseveringhaus
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