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3 Ways to Keep Your Automation Pilot from Near-Certain Failure

By Lee Coulter

For organizations looking to build a digital workforce, the automation pilot or proof of concept (POC) is often a "make or break" point. This one experience can determine the success or failure of the journey to intelligent process automation.

Most failures of automation pilots or POCs are due to a couple of fundamental mistakes. The following best practices will make the difference:

  1. Think of intelligent process automation as a business-led program, not an IT project. In approximately 80 percent of the automation programs that fail, IT is leading the way. Here's what happens: procurement uses its' tried-and-true, six-month IT software purchasing process to build a list of requirements, hold a beauty pageant, and select a winner. To satisfy an ROI template from IT and procurement, the group then uses another six months to find a single but highly complex process with 25 different exception paths that will satisfy a "business case." Then IT builds the "bot. "Not srazvan-chisu-Ua-agENjmI4-unsplashurprisingly, it doesn't work. This is an inappropriately complex process to placate expectations about what an automation business case should be. Instead, the business needs to show up with its list of a dozen or so appropriately simple automation use-cases that, in aggregate, solve for the necessary ROI to make both procurement and IT happy. Then, keeping the funnel full of appropriate use-cases becomes the joint responsibility of the automation center of excellence (CoE) and the business.

  2. Imagine intelligent process automation as a "box of possibility." In typical IT projects, the organization purchases a piece of software that has some kind of business process logic coded into it. It actually does something when you install it. When you open the box of intelligent process automation software, you are opening a "box of possibility." It does nothing for the enterprise when you install it. It is only after you install the software that the business can begin the process of building "bots" or "applets" and automate things. You aren't buying bots when you purchase intelligent automation software; you are purchasing the ability to develop bots. It's these configured pieces of automation that contain the business process logic that actually does the work to create the value. The intelligent process automation platform provides a way to build and manage them.
  3. Resist the temptation to determine in advance the "R" in the "ROI" on an intelligent process automation investment. This very often leads to utter confusion with both procurement and IT. While these organizations are always driven by an ROI or business case to make a purchase decision, that's not how intelligent process automation works. The tool does nothing by itself. It is only when the business builds an automation CoE and begins to deploy bots that value begins to materialize. There is a matter of some level of trust that the company will use the platform and keep the (right) use-cases coming. In fact, the total value of an intelligent automation platform could be considered nearly infinite. It all depends on the business being accountable for the use-cases that can make digital labor show its value. Hence, the "box of possibility."

Conflating intelligent automation software with traditional enterprise software will be the death of even the most well-intentioned attempts to make progress on the automation journey. Reorient your thinking and the value will follow. Contact me to discuss how transformAI can help your organization make the most of your intelligent process automation investments.

Tags: Lee Coulter, Digital Workforce, Robotic Process Automation

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