One of the most common customer questions we get asked as Customer Success Directors is how do we get from where we are now, to where we want to be?
It’s not uncommon for organizations new to Intelligent Automation to look at how best to expand into new business areas. Nor is it uncommon for experienced organizations to struggle to break new ground as they scale up their digital workforce. Sometimes organizations just get stuck in one place for a plethora of reasons.
In this blog post I will talk through three key areas of focus which can help you break out if you are stuck in one place, or simply looking to take your next step towards expansion.
1. Vision - Which Way Ought I Go From Here?
In Blue Prism we talk a lot about having a clear vision for where you want to take your digital workforce. As Alice found, if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, it doesn’t much matter what you do next.
Your vision should be closely aligned with the overall strategy and business objectives of the organization. How is the digital workforce going to help achieve these objectives? What do you need to do to get your digital workforce to deliver against these objectives?
Having a clear vision is the first fundamental step to expansion because its critical to the job of your executive sponsor, critical to how you set up for success and critical to what you communicate to the business.
Someone to open the door
Having an executive sponsor is like having a music agent. You might be lead singer in an amazing band that’s the star of the local scene, but without someone to open doors outside of your current reach – you aren’t likely to conquer the world anytime soon.
In organizations I meet who are slow to grow their digital workforce, even when they have a vision, the primary issue they have is a lack of sponsorship.
Now, conversely, for those of you who have a sponsor already, but don’t have a watertight vision, this can cause its own issues. Without a clear vision it’s tough for your sponsor to articulate to the wider business what you are trying to achieve and what benefits you will bring (or are bringing) to the wider organization. These two elements go together. It’s tough to successfully have one without the other.
2. Organization - Evolving the Structure
An organizational model defines how activities like task allocation, management and control are directed toward the achievement of your vision. Everything you do will rest on this model. So selecting the right design for your Blue Prism delivery will help you drive beyond the department you are in right now.
It’s important to note that the unique mix of people, strategy and culture within your organization will likely require an individual approach to things like structure, role definition and governance. There is no one size fits all and I’m not going to be prescriptive here.
Taking tentative steps
Most organizations start out with a Center of Excellence (CoE) in some form. You might just call it your RPA team and it sits in a single department. From here it is possible to scale with a big communication drive and robust standards, where a consistent campaign can see the original CoE deliver automation for the wider business. However, this may not be the fastest or most effective route.
Probably the least disruptive next step is to borrow resources from other departments, often in exchange for hours returned to the business. These resources sit in the existing CoE, they learn and they follow best practices as they build, but they only work on processes for their home department. For example, they could sit in the CoE in Finance, but come from the HR department and only work on HR processes.
A more disruptive approach, and one which is quite common, is to lift the CoE team out of the department it started in, and seat it in a horizontal function. From here it begins to operate across all departments as a centralized delivery hub. Of course, this is easier said than done, and there can be issues with becoming a bottleneck with a backlog of processes building up. But essentially processes are fed in from each area for development. Control is particularly strong in this model, especially when there is an executive sponsor in place and communication about the service is strong.
A natural evolution from this centralized model, is – if your organizational scale warrants it – to place delivery itself into the departments with a CoE remaining in control of governance and standards. This can make delivery more dynamic and remove potential bottlenecks that you might get with a purely centralized model.
For example, HR, finance, Operations would do their own delivery to the standards and controls set by an overarching CoE. Essentially like a restaurant franchise – each department operates their own restaurant, but they must follow the rules of the franchising CoE.
There are many variations of these models and we cover them in our Robotic Operating Model in more detail, including the benefits and challenges of each example model. Ultimately, you should look at your overall vision, and then design your RPA organization to help deliver against it. Having a Center of Excellence that provides leadership, best practices, support and training is fundamental, no matter the model, but how this is deployed is flexible depending on your ultimate goals.
3. Cultural Adoption: Making Automation the 'Everyday'
While I’ve talked about organization and the importance of finding a model that works for you. It is key to remember that whatever structure you choose, none of it matters if you don’t bring everyone along with you. Build it and they will come is something which only works in feel-good baseball movies. Going back to the music analogy – if you don’t tell anyone you are playing a show, you won’t get an audience and you won’t get any more gigs.
Having a communication plan in place to help drive a regular cadence of consistent messaging is essential. Otherwise you only end up communicating when you need to or remember to! Within this plan should be educational elements where you focus on raising awareness of Blue Prism and how it works. It should also include regular reporting to key stakeholders to show the progress and value you are delivering. It’s all simple stuff, but the consistency required is not always easy to maintain. This is why a plan, and someone to drive that plan, is key.
This is all back to basics, but it is important. The basics often get forgotten in the fog of internal politics and challenges, and in the face of just “getting delivery done”. If you concentrate on these elements and get them right, the rest will follow.
For more information, check out our new ROM Essentials program: