Automation Pathfinder Program

Identifying Automation Opportunities Early On

  • 21 February 2023
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Identifying Automation Opportunities Early On
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As the automation program at your organization was getting underway, you likely had at least some pipeline of opportunities you wanted to take on. That’s the whole reason you got licensing for an automation platform, right? Once you’ve worked through that initial opportunities list though, it’s important to have a healthy and growing pipeline of new opportunities. For that reason, as an automation leader consider how processes (aka automation opportunities) are discovered as you continue to grow.

When you’re in the “Start Phase” of process discovery, focus on a few key areas of identifying opportunities. These can be addressed by asking a few key questions:

 

WHAT?


It’s important that people within your organization know what can be automated. Said a different way, you need to be sure you’ve educated them on the general capabilities of the Automation Success Platform. This way, they know what to think about when considering submitting an idea or scheduling some time to talk through a use case.

To address this concern (which can pair quite well with the Promotion and Engagement efforts you’re likely taking on as well), consider the best ways to let people know about the use cases that the team has automated so far. Think about how to demonstrate not only the business automation delivers, but also the process itself - and what its means for the team who no longer has to do this manual work.

Bottom Line: Before anyone can be helpful identify and promote automation opportunities, they have to know at least a baseline of what the platform is capable of.

 

WHO?

 

The concept of Process Discovery in the “Start Phase” is really all about crowdsourcing ideas. It means identifying opportunities where the automation program can grow and have meaningful impact for the organization. The “who” in that equation is anyone within the organization who can identify a business process or task that should be automated.

As an automation lead, this may mean setting up meetings with key stakeholders in various functional areas within the organization to let them know about your program. Let them know about the capabilities of the Automation Success Platform and explain where they can go to submit an idea (we’ll get to that here in a second). It’s also helpful to encourage these leaders to inform their teams of the same - so ideas can come from literally anywhere within the organization.

Bottom Line: Your best chance of having great automation opportunities means making it easy for anyone within the organization to submit an idea. As you communicate about the program values and goals, be sure to make the mission inclusive of everyone in the organization who wants to pitch in - building bots, submitting ideas, or working along side a digital co-worker.

 

WHERE?

 

At this point, the people of your organization know a bit about what makes for great automation use cases and they all are encouraged and empowered to submit automation ideas. The where in this case is really just having somewhere to point them. The where is also important because you need one place to capture the first level automation opportunity details in a consistent fashion. Not only is this important from the “easy-for anyone to submit an idea” perspective, but systematically capturing ideas also makes things much easier for the automation lead/business analyst in charge of reviewing, comparing, and prioritizing use cases.

The best way to get this rolling is through CoE Manager. CoE Manager enables you to publish an intake form that anyone in your organization has access to. It asks the basic questions needed for an opportunity to be fed directly into your intake pipeline. CoE Manager will automatically detect the complexity and alignment to your operational objectives and score each submitted opportunity for you (though you can review and adjust as needed).

Alternatively, you may consider setting up a simple Microsoft Forms-based intake system that will enable you to fully customize the questions that are asked. Then, all responses can be automatically collected into a spreadsheet for your review.

Bottom Line: Ensure that something is set up for employees across the organization to be able to easily submit automation ideas. For more details about what makes a good intake process, check out the blog on Developing an Intake Process.
 

Conclusion & Actionable Takeaways

 

For most organizations, Process Discovery starts with grassroots, crowdsourced ideas with the potential to relieve various areas of your business from repetitive, mundane work. If we were to turn a healthy automation pipeline at this point in your automation journey into a mathematical equation, it would look something like:

Effective Evangelism Efforts + Successfully-Delivered Quick Wins + An Intake Channel = A Healthy Opportunity Pipeline

The work that you’re doing in these other areas - spreading the word about program success, successfully delivering wins, identifying automation champions, etc., all feeds in to an organizational culture shift where people start to believe in the capabilities and power of automation. Best of all, they’ll want to be part of the wave of change that's being introduced by the power of automation.

 

Actionable Takeaways:

  • People need to know what can and can’t be reasonably automated - consider:
    • Setting up Lunch and Learn sessions
    • Taking various business leaders to coffee or lunch to talk through the power of automation
    • Sharing details about some recent wins on the company’s intranet page.
      • Promoting what your program is doing may feel unfamiliar at first, but take a glance through the content from the Promotion and Engagement section for some tips on what might work for you in your organization.

 

  • Ensure that you’re taking an “inclusive over intrusive” approach to automation. Your automation program only scales if people are actually willing to help identify automation ideas and get the help that they need from digital co-workers.
    • Give the original idea submitter a shout out when an automation goes live into production - this brings visibility for him or her, and recognizes the fact that each automation has to start with an idea.

 

  • If your evangelism is going well and people know all about your program but you don’t have a place for them to submit ideas, you’re likely going to get TONs of IMs, calls and meeting requests for help.
    • Setting up a proper intake channel for idea submissions is a great way to centralize requests and ensure that you’re collecting the data needed to appropriately evaluate a submission idea. You can always schedule a followup call to dive deeper into the process as needed.

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