Automation Pathfinder Program

Blueprint: Demonstrate Maximum Value of Your Automation Program

  • 29 September 2022
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When your automation program is up and humming, it’s undoubtedly providing value to your organization. But in order to understand just how far that value stretches, you have to ask the right questions to unfurl the more substantial, perhaps unquantifiable, metrics that are truly giving your program clout. And the best questions to ask—and answer with metrics—will likely shift based on the phase you’re in: Start, Accelerate, or Scale.

 

Ask the Right Questions

 

Think about baseball and the movie Moneyball. Haven’t seen it? Here’s a synopsis: Because of a limited budget, a young Yale grad comes into the Oakland A’s organization to help them draft and trade players based on some unconventional metrics. Most major baseball organizations with deep pockets like the Yankees draft top picks and pay multi-million dollar contracts to bring in big name, and sometimes overhyped, players. They often want big hitters, so when evaluating a draft or trade pick they asked the question: what’s his batting average (hits divided by total at-bats)? The A’s team asked a different question, what is the OBP, on-base percentage? This metric takes into account walks and hits by pitches as well. If you’re looking for someone who gets on base most often, the OBP is the metric you want. The Oakland A’s changed the trajectory of their performance by asking the right questions.

 

Similarly to this scenario, the metrics you track and the narrative behind your numbers is one of the most powerful tools in your Automation Program tool belt. It can have dramatic impact on your Automation Program, including whether or not you achieve:

  • Buy-in and funding from leadership
  • Cross-team evangelism efforts for business leadership
  • Justification for additional automation efforts
  • ROI projections

 

Bot Value > Bot Volume, Every Time

 

There’s a general cadence you can follow as you measure performance and progress your Automation Program forward.

  • In the Start phase, you’ll want to lay the groundwork to track basic metrics
  • As you Accelerate, you’ll have the data to track hard, tangible metrics as well
  • As you Scale, you’ll be able to track all of the above PLUS those more intangible, “soft metrics“ that can be just as, or even more, powerful in demonstrating the impact of automation

 

CONFESSIONS OF AN AUTOMATION LEADER: Note that none of what we’re suggesting you track here hinges on the number of bots running. That’s because a lot of bots can have a valuable impact—but one bot automating 20 processes could be driving a much higher cost or time savings than 10 bots automating 10 processes. This was the case for one Automation Anywhere community member, who explained to their User Group that in their efforts to track the impact of automations, they initially got it wrong. This customer was focusing on the number of automations deployed and quickly realized that this metric didn’t tell their C-suite anything about the impact automation was having. You and your stakeholders want to understand the value your overall Automation Program is providing, and you may be overlooking powerful data points that prove valuable business impact if you are only focused on number of bots.

 

 

Metrics to Capture when You’re Starting

 

If you’re in the Start phase of your Automation Program, you can keep the metrics you report out simple. But DO start sharing this insight into performance, this is something you’ll build on as you go. Reporting in the beginning can be as easy as tracking the number of bot executions for a given automation and multiplying that by expected savings per run. Here’s how that plays out:

    • Bot A is designed to run 52 times over the next year, and should save $52,000
    • Bot A actually ran 50 times over the year, so Bot A saved $50,000

That’s a great place to start when you are, quite literally, in the Start phase.

 

Share the Tangible Benefits Realized as You Accelerate

 

Hard metrics are incredibly value. As you experience them, bake them into your talk track and highlight them in the narrative you share about your Automation Program. This is the best way to open people’s eyes to the to the power of an Automation Program and help them start seeing that it really is driving a lot of value. Think along the lines of:

  • Hours Saved
  • Money Saved
  • Number of Bot Runs (baseline for future)
  • % of Employees enabled by/accessing automation

 

CONFESSIONS OF AN AUTOMATION LEADER: One of our community members, a global clothing retailer, was looking to achieve hard cost savings. They invested in automation to reduce duplicate deliveries that were happening with some of their wholesale accounts. This automation saved them 25% in hard costs month-over-month by reducing the expenses associated with the return freight, labor, product restocking, etc. Once you’re proficient at sharing out hard metrics like these, it’s time to move to soft savings. .

 

Think Soft Savings as You Scale

 

These are benefits your organization is experiencing, that aren’t necessarily tangible, but that are important enough to acknowledge. These can be things like:

  • Improved employee morale due to employees being more focused on bigger tasks
  • Increased customer satisfaction due to employees having more time to dedicate to customer conversations

 

CONFESSIONS OF AN AUTOMATION LEADER: Another community member in the finance sector shared some “soft metrics” that they experienced around morale. Every quarter close, this company entered into a punishing round of processes for employees. When the company looked at resignations—they saw a pattern: the highest number of people quitting came before and after quarter close, which, prior to automation, entailed working around the clock. Once quarter close was significantly automated, morale increased, employee satisfaction scores went up and, ultimately, the organization experienced lower attrition. Again, this is a soft metric, but remarkable (and one any company would value) nonetheless. So while there isn’t necessarily a tangible cost savings in these instances—and the number of bots running (again) is not a factor—there is a highly impactful, albeit intangible, value to your automations at this stage.

 

Know Your MVP

 

So, you’ve asked good questions and developed metrics to answer them. There’s still another step to a successful Value Metrics narrative: This involves knowing your “MVPs,” your Most Valuable Processes. These are the automations that stand out as the transformative pillars of your entire Automation Program.

 

CONFESSIONS OF AUTOMATION LEADERS: A retail customer of ours expressed the major market impact caused by the lead times when releasing a new product. From ideation to final delivery, their speed to market was simply just not that – incredibly slow. All the while, their competitor was able to bring new products to market in half the time. The automation process put into place cut their lead times by more than half and created a huge market opportunity for them. And while speed to market is not necessarily measurable in a granular metric, its macro value on market leadership and brand differentiation was crystal clear across the executive team. That’s their MVP. In another customer scenario, a global financial customer found themselves out of compliance with regulatory reporting. Every week that they remained out of compliance, they incurred significant fines. They turned to automation to reconcile their compliance issues and save them from facing egregious fines moving forward. Is there a granular metric that can be attached to ”staying compliant”? Maybe not. But this automation process is their MVP because it contributed huge value to their bottom line. An MVP may be something intangible, but so substantial that its tangible or hypothetical monetary value is understood. It could be anything that makes your organization’s systems more secure or more compliant, or it could be something that generates a tremendous opportunity cost.

 

The Final Word

 

You can ensure that your Automation Program is on track by asking the right questions and evolving the metrics you answer them with as you go. Remember to: start simply, then record hard costs and then add in the value of soft costs. It’s a formula our community has seen succeed time and time again. You will too.


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