You want a continuous pipeline of new automation use cases to tackle. You already knew that, but how and where do you generate that thriving flow of automation priorities across diverse lines of business? From our experience here at Automation Anywhere (yes, we drink our own champagne), as well as from many community success stories, we’ve extracted three tips to help you drive a healthy use case pipeline.
1. Find Your LOBBF
When it’s time to expand your reach after your first wins, there are typically two methods we see Automation Leaders employ to find their next use cases.
Crowdsource. This is a strong play for a high volume of ideas. Reach out to users and ask for input on what they should automate next. Theoretically, this is helpful to discover where pain points are for your end users. However, when automation criteria isn’t meticulously outlined, the inbound suggestions can range from far too simple to downright comical–a smattering of ideas that aren’t the quality use cases you want and need. Is automating the thermostat in someone’s office going to revolutionize the business? Kindly, no. Crowdsourcing certainly can serve you at some point in your automation journey—more on that later—but as you are currently building up your pipeline, we have a method for your toolbox that may serve you better.
LOBFF. This approach is Automation Anywhere’s go-to recommendation for high quality, high-ROI ideas. Establish a one-on-one partnership with a key stakeholder in a line of business, making them your “Line of Business Best Friend” (LOBBF). Your LOBBF will have keen insight into how you both, as a team, can use automation to transform their business. After all, business transformation is a major requirement for a successful automation journey. You--and your stakeholders--are not in this just for incremental improvements to save an hour here or there. And once you help transform their line of business, you can [showcase that impact to] partner with another LOBBF and so on. Time after time, this proves to be the most effective way to build a rich pipeline that will contribute substantial success metrics to your automation program.
CONFESSIONS OF AN AUTOMATION LEADER: An automation leader in the community was prepping for an upcoming board meeting to secure further investment in automation. Leveraging their company’s Call for Automation Ideas website, the leader prepared an automation business case demonstrating] a 2% efficiency savings. A few board members were intrigued, but did not see 2% savings as a board-worthy impact metric. However, they challenged the Leader to partner with the LOB heads in their product development and customer care functions to see if automation could accelerate the company’s transformation to a customer-first buying experience. The Automation Leader worked with her 2 LOBBFs to reimagine the company’s customer experience with automation as the foundation. The results? The board expanded automation funding and the three units are working together to launch their first pilot. We’ll say it again--sweeping business transformation is what you’re after in your pipeline.
2. Ensure Process Discovery Pertinence
You know that phenomenon when you’re driving somewhere acutely familiar and all of a sudden you arrive at your destination without taking much notice of the journey to get there? That’s because your brain was on autopilot. But someone else driving that same route for the first time might be sitting up straight, hyper-focused on the road and the surroundings, with the radio volume turned down as if it helps them concentrate better on the journey. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes--an untrained observer--to extract minute nuances of a process that is second nature to you.
This brings us to the next pivotal step in your pipeline generation: process discovery. Process discovery aims to unearth a 360-degree view of how users do their work across the enterprise. In the Start and sometimes the Accelerate phases of your program, you may be able to review end to end processes manually. Especially if the process is very simple and your LOBBF relationship is mature and trusted. Outside of those exceptions, processes are too complex and broad to review manually, and humans too close to the day to day work to have that fresh set of eyes. You will need the help of a process discovery platform.
All tools are not created equal, so we’ll share why we’ve focused on Process Discovery to help the community in this critical step.
The result is a comprehensive 360-degree picture of granular data as well as human behavior patterns, with recommendations on what to automate for the highest ROI. Automation Anywhere Process Discovery includes over a million hours of user behavior recordings. We know what you’re thinking…you can already feel the intense hesitation from users who may fear what seems like surveillance software monitoring their every digital move. Customers who deeply value the results from FIQ usually stress that the ability to analyze and identify every process and pinpoint the highest ROI automation opportunities is crucial. It gives you a blueprint on where to automate next.
The Privacy Enhanced Gateway redacts all sensitive data as it x-rays the process across the enterprise. So it's important to leverage the trust built across the organization through the first automation wins, and demonstrate how jobs are not threatened.
A good metaphor for the intent of process discovery: Think about the production that goes into putting dinner on the table for your family. Let’s say Chicken Parmesan is on the menu tonight. First you need to make your grocery list: chicken, bread crumbs, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese. Then head to the grocery store to buy your ingredients. Then you return home to cook dinner. FIQ would process mine the steps you took to get dinner on the table: making the list, the trip to the store, and cooking dinner. Then it would dive deeper and task mine what exactly you did for each of those steps: did you check the fridge or pantry when making your grocery list, what aisles did you walk up and down at the store, did you oven bake or fry your breaded chicken? All of this collected data would give the full picture of what it took to put dinner on the table.
3. Keep Looking Forward
So far you’ve curated partnerships, generated a pipeline of use cases, and made your LOBBFs transformation heroes. You’ve also instituted process discovery to accelerate identifying further automation opportunities. And you still have future waves of automation ideas to capture. This is where we come full circle on the crowdsourcing method. You will face the same challenges we touched on earlier once you open the “Use Case Suggestion Box,” so we will say again that it’s important not only to set standards and expectations for submissions, but also reiterate those parameters over and over. Automations should have strong ROI potential, not be overly complex, and should drive value for the company. Even with all of this, you will still receive submissions to automate someone’s office thermostat. But at this point you already have a healthy pipeline churning and there is no great burden to rely on these suggestions for a transformative Automation Program.
Automation Anywhere customers have shared with us the many ways in which they’ve successfully opened up a “Use Case Suggestion Box,” so we’re happy to pass some ideas on to you.
Set-up a dedicated email for submissions, such as "AutomateMe@company.com"
Create an online submission form on your company’s intranet
Send out an email newsletter calling for submissions
As submissions flow in, both good and not so great, be sure to provide reinforcement either way. Your responses should thank and course correct when the idea isn’t a good fit. Something as simple as a templated email acknowledgment: “Thank you so much for taking time to submit your automation idea. We liked ABC about your idea. Unfortunately we can’t move forward with it because it doesn’t currently address one or more of our critical goals of x, y & z.” And when a great idea rolls in, be sure to lift up and celebrate your big thinker. Perhaps a company-wide email gets distributed or an award is given out: “Jane Doe submitted the top automation idea. It saved us 1,000 hours and solved XYZ problem. Congrats Jane! Who wants to be the next Jane? Submit your idea to us!”
These are three manageable tips that will undoubtedly build a rich automation pipeline for your program. As you move through each of the steps, remember to continue to reinforce trust in automation and to always elevate those partners and heroes who lend a helping hand toward use case generation.