5 Ways to Avoid Risk in Process Automation Projects
By Mike Raia Posted June 5, 2020
Digital process automation is picking up steam across the business landscape, from simple online form creation to sophisticated machine learning algorithms that predict equipment failures before they occur. Embarking on this automation journey is appealing to many companies but it's critical to ensure that you can avoid risk and leverage many of the realizable benefits of automation.
How Can You Reduce Process Automation Project Risks
Planning is crucial to success and one of the key aspects of the plan begins with assessing the risks for your organization and ensuring that you can challenge and address those risks head-on.
Each organization will have its own unique set of risks to consider depending upon the type of organization structure, the maturity of technology adoption, and its change culture. To help you on your journey, we have listed below the top 5 risks that we believe are common and the questions you should be asking:
Do we have a clear strategy?
Without a clearly defined and documented strategy, it is difficult to understand and communicate why you are pursuing process automation. Your strategy needs to be clear and easily understood. It needs to be the raison d’etre for pursuing this challenge and your guiding light throughout.
The project manager and should be able to clearly articulate why this project exists and what you hope to accomplish so it will spread throughout the organization. This becomes your project mission statement.
Will we get resistance to change?
We all know how difficult change can be. It is ultimately people that make processes happen, so when you talk of "change and automation" it can be perceived as "job losses." We need to clearly articulate the productivity, cycle time, and right-first-time benefits. Management needs to make the commitment that if jobs are impacted then alternative or new roles will be found. A clear change management and communication policy are required to ensure buy-in from those involved in the processes at the front lines.
There are other change management factors to consider, which we've documented in the past.
Do we have the resources and expertise?
It is vital that process automation project teams not only have the skill set but sufficient capacity for the work that will be required. Engaging external expertise (selected vendor and/or independent consultancy) support is an option, but at minimum, develop criteria for project team member selection and "hire" wisely.
Some traits to look for:
- A natural inclination toward problem-solving
- A wide view of the department or organization
- Strong listener
- Technically inclined (depending on their function)
Do we have the right leadership and implementation team?
The success of the project will depend upon having the right people involved in the implementation. This project should not be another IT project but a change management project. It needs to be led by a Business Manager and involve the people who are working on the processes that are going to automated. This is the only way to get commitment and thus make the new processes workable. IT may be involved for specific technical needs (integration, special development, etc.) but the project should be led by the business side.
Will we achieve the ROI?
You have heard it before “It's another technology project that will fail after we have purchased the software, as no one will use it”. It is essential that a business case outlining all the costs and benefits is prepared and submitted for approval as you would for any financial commitment. This needs to contain success factors for this project and how they will be measured during and after project go-live.
For some ideas about projecting ROI and developing your business case, download our free ROI Worksheet, or use our ROI calculator. While every process automation project is different, these tools can help you build your case.
We hope the above few risks will be useful in your preparations. There is no doubt that process automation can reduce operational costs, provide shorter cycle times with enhanced quality leading to reduced rework. As with any journeys, the effort is on the planning and mitigating for potential risks and hazards.