“Ask not only what automation can do for you—ask what you can do to support the automation program in your company.” In the recent quarterly User Group meeting for the West region, Jeremy Segura, MVP and Director of Smart Automation CoE at Experian, opened his discussion with this twist on JFK’s famous words. He brought a call to action to the group members to go from passive to proactive automation support in order to achieve sweeping transformation with their programs. What exactly does that mean? Let’s dive into Jeremy’s blueprint to scale automation proactively.
Passive vs. Proactive
Passive automation encompasses the day-to-day elements that make up a humming intelligent automation program. This includes:
- Automation & process development
- Operational productivity and efficiency
- Career development
- Human-in-the-loop integrations
Proactive automation, on the other hand, takes automating one step further, not necessarily by simply integrating new tools or technologies but by actively supporting your program as a whole to nurture a groundswell of awareness, participation, and expansion. Some approaches to proactive automation include:
- Spreading awareness
- Creating a community and gaining allies
- Innovation through gamification
- Process standardization and strong governance
- Active learning and skill development
Here are Jeremy’s pivotal tips to activate a proactive automation approach.
Create a Community
- Host automation awareness sessions - This can include hosting “lunch & learns,“ and presenting automation demos or quarterly business reviews to key business leaders. Whatever you can do to spread awareness, squash fears, and create excitement around the capabilities and possibilities of automation will pay you back in spades. At Experian, Jeremy’s team created a monthly newsletter sharing highlights, challenges, opportunities, impact, lessons learned, etc., with their automations. They found that getting into a cadence of documenting and sharing updates created anticipation and excitement with people across the organization to read about the latest automation updates.
- Engage allies - Get close to people who are always looking at process improvement and inconsistencies, as well as people in finance, HR, training, leadership, etc. Gaining new allies will open the door to new lines of business, replenish your pipeline, and ensure you have people championing your efforts and who can provide support and endorsement when needed.
- Host a hack-a-thon - Bring people together for automation brainstorming sessions or gamify automation ideation with hack-a-thons. This sense of community can help supercharge your pipeline, expand into new lines of business, and generate interest and enthusiasm around automation.
Ensure Program Resiliency
- Process standardization - Give your automation program more process standardization before actually suggesting new automation use cases.
- Strong governance - This is a necessary evil. If you want to grow, you must have your policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities documented thoroughly!
- Security and risk compliance - Continually assess how your data is being hosted and ensure that everything is constantly controlled, monitored and secure. If this is not dialed in, you should not be moving new automations into production.
Innovate & Develop Skills
- Citizen developers - We’ve seen time and again how quickly non-technical people can learn to develop automations and flourish as citizen developers. Citizen developers increase your development capacity and often bring new use case ideas to the pipeline. For Jeremy, adding just nine citizen developers in their 2nd year of automation significantly increased the number of automations they developed annually. Now, his team consists of 48 developers plus over 50 citizen developers.
- Active learning and skill development - It’s easy to let your automation team fall into a rhythm of automation development, addressing incident tickets, and troubleshooting. Carve out dedicated time for your team to focus on special projects, research, and skill development in order to sharpen their capabilities and continue to innovate within your business.
The Future is Bright
We’re going to leave Jeremy’s call to action here once again: “Ask not only what automation can do for you—ask what you can do to support the automation program in your company.” We encourage you to start with just one of these recommendations and see what kind of movement you spark. We don’t doubt that with a proactive automation approach, as Jeremy has laid out, the future of your program and your business is very bright!