With some successful deliveries attributed to your automation program and some grassroots evangelism efforts underway to communicate the value being delivered for the organization, it's time to explore delivering automations for a new functional area within the organization. As this is likely the first expansion of automation delivery outside of the automation center of excellence team, it will be vitally important to make this first delivery partnership successful, and set the stage for a systematic approach to scale as you move forward.
Taking The Show On The Road
Similarly to when your automation team got started with automation; identifying quick win processes, capturing and applying best practices, establishing a pattern for documentation and delivery, etc; it will be important that any newly-onboarded factory goes through some of those same steps, albeit enabled by the “lessons learned” from the automation CoE team. All of that said, the participation and involvement of this newly engaged functional area depend largely on their aptitude for getting hands-on, their capacity to engage with the automation CoE team, and the operating model of the CoE team (centralized vs. federated vs. something in between). Clearly defining how teams can get involved is essential to effectively communicating the opportunity for their team and their staff. There are effectively 3 C’s of engagement:
Consumer - The first level of engagement is an individual or team who is interested in leveraging the benefits of automation within their functional area through the ability to execute automations. This could come by way of leveraging embedded automation to invoke bots from the web interfaces they’re already using, executing automations directly on their desktops as digital work assistants (attended automation), or through the use of Automation Anywhere’s Robotic Interface (AARI) to execute human-in-the-loop style automations through a web or local user interface. Consumers are not interested in actually building out automations or identifying opportunities. They’re interested in leveraging automations to make their lives easier.
Contributor - The second level of engagement is an individual or team who is interested in participating in the development of automations by being “opportunity hunters.” Contributors participate in the delivery of automations by working to identify, document, and submit use case opportunities for the teams that are responsible for developing the automations. Contributors may not have the technical aptitude (at least not yet) to build automations themselves, but they clearly recognize the value that automation capability can bring to their functional area, and want to see the program be a success. Contributors are the automation champions who love the idea of automation, understand what does/doesn’t make for a good automation opportunity, and want to help identify and submit automation opportunities for review/prioritization by the CoE.
Creator - The final level of engagement is an individual or team who is interested in helping with the development of automations by being a hands-on automation builder. These people have either a technical aptitude or a willingness to learn, and are interested in being part of the automation design and delivery phase in a greater way. Practically, this level of engagement can take form in a few distinct ways:
Traditional Developers: For IT teams, or functional areas that have their own development resources, individuals/teams can be enabled creators by taking up building and delivering automations for their own self-prioritized automation use cases. This may also be known as federated development and it enables a functional area within the organization to essentially take on the best practices/expectations of the CoE, but deliver their own automations while working within the guidelines/best practices from that central automation program team.
Citizen Developers: For business users interested in building automations for themselves and their teams, Citizen Development can be an effective approach for expanding automation throughout the organization. While technically also a federated approach to automation development and unlike Traditional Developers, Citizen Developers may require a greater degree of hand-holding than their computer science trained counterparts. This may come by way of co-development where a Citizen Developer completes ~75-90% of an automation, and a more experienced automation developer helps out with the remaining portion, or it may require some additional training/hand-holding as they get up to speed with learning to deliver high-quality, reliable automations, .while also following the established best practices and standards laid out by the automation CoE.
Conclusion & Actionable Takeaways
Expanding beyond the automation CoE team is a must for scaling your automation program and delivering the maximum value that automation capabilities can have in your organization. While it can take slightly different forms depending on what functional areas you’ve decided to expand to first, it's helpful to know the various ways that teams and individuals can engage with the process of delivering automations.
- As you start to think about which areas of the organization you want your automation program to expand to, consider identifying “Automation Champions,” those individuals and teams who have engaged with the evangelism efforts you’ve done so far and who are excited about the possibilities of automation.
- Put together a short “pitch deck” on how functional teams can engage and the kind of partner you’re looking to expand with. It may be that you’d prefer to keep a centralized CoE instead of federating out, so possibly you’re only looking for teams to be consumers, or it may be that you’re interested in federated development. If the latter is the case, it may make sense for you to partner with an IT-enabled team or a team that already has dedicated development resources to meet their own automation needs.
- Take note of what works and what doesn't. Ultimately, you’ll want to repeat this process of expanding the automation program to include new teams and new functional areas. As such, you’ll want this onboarding to be as smooth and repeatable as possible.
- With each new team onboarded you’ll want to coach them through the best approach to getting up to speed and delivering value, starting with quick wins over the most complex/high ROI processes, best practices for building reliable, supportable, and robust automations. Point them to the resources available as a part of this guide or your own CoE best practices documentation to help shortcut the time-to-value process.