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Automation is not a “Gig”, It’s a Mindset!

What is an “Automation Mindset” and why is it so important to institutionalize in today’s workforce?

In one of our recent Client meetings, the Client brought up the importance of “Design Thinking” for Automation projects since it was recommended to them by one of the bigger Management Consulting firms. We get it. “Design Thinking” is an important methodology for a solutions-based approach to problem solving, however, we think that in the RPA world, the concept of an “Automation mindset” is important as well. Both “Design Thinking” and the “Automation Mindset” can be interpreted the same way by some folks, but we wanted to clarify our take on the “Automation Mindset”.

An “Automation Mindset” is a way of thinking where one is constantly re-imagining doing a task, process, or an entire workflow more efficiently through continuous analysis and automation. This is not just limited to the work environment but also in our daily lives. Human beings are creatures of habits, and that’s not a bad thing, however, real change never happens if we don’t think about modifying our habits to get a better outcome with whatever it is that we are trying to do with those habits. For example, if I want to lose weight, I need to get out of my comfort zone and change my habits by adopting a diet that will allow me to lose weight and keep it off. The same is true in Businesses which are nothing but a collection of Tasks, Processes, Rules and Workflows. Every Business has “habits” built up of existing Business Processes. Businesses apply IT to make their processes more efficient but, in many cases, end up with more IT Applications and more data processing, which in turn requires more Employees to “operate” those Applications. The idea behind the “Automation Mindset” is to not only continuously evolve IT but also constantly automate processes using all the available tools including IT Application Development, APIs, BPM, and now Robotic Process Automations as well.

The “Automation Mindset” requires Organizations to invest in people who have a knack for “Automation”. You can try to train Developers or Business Users to develop Automations but unless there is a formal Automation program (Center of Excellence or COE) within an Organization, the results will not be optimal. To gain the competitive advantage, Automation & AI needs to be institutionalized the same way IT was institutionalized within Organizations decades ago. It’s important to note that none of this is possible without the support from the C-Suite. The only RPA Automation programs we have seen that are capable of scaling are the ones where the C-Suite understands the 4th Industrial revolution that is driven by Automation & AI and is determined to institutionalize it.

Just like how “Design Thinking” promotes solutions-based thinking using 5 stages: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test, “Automation Mindset” requires Organizations to think about Automation as an Enterprise wide program and not just a one-time pass. We feel that the Automation mindset is comprised of the following stages:

Note: Accelirate has a formal methodology that covers all 5 of these stages

  1. Discover: A formal iterative discovery process to identify opportunities for Business Process Efficiency and Automation. Process Discovery and Mining tools can be helpful here.
  2. Analyze: Once discovered, the Business Process must be analyzed for Process redesign and/or Automation potential.
  3. Design: Once a Business Process is deemed feasible for Automation, the Automation needs to be architected and designed in such a way that it maximizes the reuse of all existing Automations and available interfaces already in place. This ensures lower development and maintenance costs.
  4. Develop: Once the solution has been designed, the automation needs to be developed by a staff that has proficiency in not only the RPA platforms but other integration technologies such as APIs and Web-services. This is essential to ensure robust automations.
  5. Manage:  Once the Automations are developed and successfully deployed, they must be cataloged for future reuse as well as managed within a COE where formal change management methodologies are applied to manage such Automations. In addition to change management and re-use considerations, monitoring and management of Automations play a critical role in the overall Automation program.

An “Automation Mindset” cannot be adopted overnight; rather it needs a Program that is developed and nurtured by people who view Automation & AI as not just “nice to have” but an essential part of today’s Business Operations. If this is not the case, the outcome would not differ much from that of a “yo-yo” diet.