Intelligent/Hyper-Automation or commonly known as RPA (robotics), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) has been delivering value added benefits to many organisations for many years. Whether it be automation through Customer facing activities, Back Office Process, Marketing, HR, Finance, IT, Sales, Services, etc.

Through this time, we have seen benefits including improved Customer Satisfaction, Staff Satisfaction, Reduced organisation Risk, Increased Audit-ability, Reduced operational costs and increased revenues, whilst providing a platform that speeds up innovation.

So, my question is why are 70% of companies stuck in or haven’t progressed from a ‘Pilot Phase’?

There are two reasons: 1. Most companies have missed the first step in the process – understand your pipeline first. 2. Companies are not measuring the correct metrics in a pilot

Understand Your Pipeline (1 Week Commitment End to End to Complete this Phase) – first and vital step is to conduct a high-level internal evaluation of the automation opportunities within your organisation – do not hesitate to get external help to facilitate.

The information required to conduct this high-level evaluation is usually right in front of us. In each business unit across your organisation review: 

  • What are the high-volume tasks/processes and how long do they take.
  • What are the total hours of effort for this task/process to complete.
  • To what extent are this tasks/processes rule based and repeatable.
  • In what formats is the work in – structured, unstructured or semi structured and can the unstructured formats become structured with a business change.
  • Do you have training material/other documentation that explains how to do this task/process.
  • Are you achieving your SLA’s and NPS. Are there customer complaints?
  • Has this process been identified on your Risk Register or subject to periodical audits?

This high-level analysis will provide you a list based on where you can potentially get your biggest wins for your organisation and start shaping a potential automation pipeline.

Once you have completed this analysis companies then need to determine whether the task/process is technically feasible, automation development complexity, adequately scalable and widely desired by stakeholders.

Now you have a pipeline that highlights the commercially viable by task/process. Setting a priority pathway thus establishing innovation environment clear on the outcomes before you have spent any capital but highlighting the possible speed of Return On Investment (ROI).

Companies are not measuring the correct metrics in a pilot.

Most organisations when conducting a pilot are evaluating a vendor/vendors software offering and to see if it achieves the hype and outcomes outlined by a motivated software sales professional. Most pilots are conducted on a task/process that would never make a pipeline priority list, which in turn when the pilot is conducted and has been highly successful – it really hasn’t excited anyone or motivated a stakeholder to say ‘I want it now’. More importantly this pilot being conduct in the absence of a pipeline review and understanding the ‘size of the prize’ gets put in a list of potential initiatives that we may get too if we have spare project funding.

Conducting the pipeline analysis prior to the pilot will provide you the opportunity to choose a process that is in your priority list and thus prove real tangible/meaningful benefits whether it be strong ROI, improved customer experience, etc. This in turn creates that real excitement within an organisation to make real sustainable improvements.

The key metrics of a pilot:

  • Was the pilot developed within the estimated build time
  • Did the automation achieve that targeted outcomes – task/process percentage complete, business exceptions as designed, etc
  • What did the business learn about working with developers, conducting tests and iterations
  • What did the IT application, infrastructure and support team learn about the technology within terms of the development cycles, implementation and change processes.
  • What did this business learn about the business change activities required to support a wide implementation.
  • Where are the knowledge/process gaps within the organisation
  • What is the best approach to develop an in-house capability and what external partner help will be required.
  • How is this technology going to be transitioned into the business and IT.

The best results are achieved when companies have a clear approach/vision with stakeholders having a good understanding of the business need, strategic direction, and organisational readiness.

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Written by Anthony Scott.

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