Getting started on your Automation Journey? Remember, it’s people who are your greatest asset.
- It’s people who come up with great automation ideas
- It’s people who work through challenges to build automations
- It’s people who will decide to put automation to use as a normal part of their work life and choose it as a way to be more effective
Since people are so important, defining roles and responsibilities clearly from the start is critical. Let’s talk about structuring your team as you get started in automation.
Getting Started - Go Big or Start Small?
Depending on your organization’s size and how you choose to start automating, different approaches to your team and organizational structure could apply. For example, some organizations see the “big picture potential,” and are happy to fully staff the automation program immediately. In other organizations, there will be some work to do in this “Start” phase. Meaning you’ll have to deliver some value, demonstrate the potential of automation and share out some level of promotion in order to secure additional investment.
Despite these wide variances, here are some common principles and guidelines to ensure your team ‘hits the ground running’ with successful ‘quick win’ use cases.
Delivering Automation (the ‘Automation Development Lifecycle’)
Before we review the Team Structure, let’s identify the high-level activities required to deliver any Automation Use Case:
|Intake / Assessment||Defining automation ideas, including what steps the automation will execute, and what value could be delivered.|
|Build||Designing, developing, and testing the automations to ensure they perform as required.|
|Deploy||Deploying the solution to the appropriate production environment.|
|Operations/Support||Ongoing monitoring to ensure the automations deliver the expected value.|
A Simple Organizational Structure
So what’s the most simple organizational structure required to get started? Here it is: simple, but very effective when getting started:
- Automation Lead: This person will represent the program when communicating with automation program stakeholders. He or she will ensure stakeholders are aware of progress and wins can be celebrated. In addition, this team member will help coordinate with other ‘supporting functions’ required to deliver automations. For example, he or she may work with security, infrastructure, and custodians of the applications being automated.
- Automation Builder: This team member will be trained on the Automation Success Platform, and then work to define, build, test, and deploy automations.
Who should you look for to fill these roles? Keep in mind, these are the roles, not necessarily the head count you need. Depending on your organization’s size and focus when it comes to organization, here are some things to consider:
What kind of person is an ideal candidate to lead the automation team as you get started? They should have:
- Passion for automation and its ability to positively impact work
- Leadership competencies including communication, stakeholder management, project management/execution
- Basic product knowledge, understanding the ‘art of the possible’ for automation on the Automation Success Platform
- Well-respected and strong relationships in the organization to help collaborate and to remove any ‘blockers’ and effectively execute
What kind of person is ideal for building your initial automations? They should also have a passion for automation and its ability to positively impact work and have other qualities such as these:
- Be able to conduct requirements gathering to document/define the automation opportunity
- Understand Solution Architecture/Solution Design
- Have development skills (ie. working knowledge of structures like conditions, loops, and logic)
- Have basic product knowledge in developing/deploying automation using the Automation Success Platform. Ideally these people will quickly gain their ‘Advanced’ certification.
- Be able to ensure positive relationships when working with requestors/stakeholders of an automation
Conclusion & Actionable Takeaways
Getting started with your automation program will likely mean a lean team, where everyone wears multiple hats. Regardless of your industry, size of organization, or the initial scope of your automation program, a well-structured automation team will be critical to your success. In this article, we’ve focused on some of the fundamentals in terms of getting the right people in the right roles to deliver your “quick wins.” Like every part of your automation program, your organizational structure and roles/responsibilities will evolve, so look forward to advancing this topic in the articles on the Accelerate and Scale stages!
Validate your initial team size against your initial business objectives for the program. How many Automation Builders do you need to deliver the ‘quick win’ Use Cases? Keep in mind velocity will build as the team gains experience, so set expectations for delivery accordingly.
Identify/validate who will ‘lead’ your Automation Program in these early days of your Automation Journey. Are they the right fit?
Identify your initial Automation Builder(s). Do they have the right profile to be successful? Are they setup for success with the right product training, and supporting roles within the organization?
Lots of interesting assets and artifacts await as you work to define, build, test, and deliver automation. No matter how cliché it might sound, the most important asset in your program is...as we’ve illustrated here...the people in your organization.