Conducting Annual Assessments for Your Automation Program

Conducting Annual Assessments for Your Automation Program
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You schedule regular checkups for the health of yourself, your car, and your career ... is your automation program due for a checkup?

Mission Control is your guide to accelerating program growth, and the first step is the assessment — a tool to help your team take a good look in the mirror. Assessing the progress and effectiveness of your automation initiatives can:

  • Provide valuable insights into the current state of automation programs
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Chart a course for future success

After the assessment, we’ll recommend tailored Missions: targeted action plans with 10-15 actions to take to address a specific, urgent program growth area.

This blog post is your definitive guide to conducting your Pathfinder Automation Program Self-Assessment. We’ll explore why it’s important and walk you through the steps of conducting the assessment as a team, as well as crafting your action plan afterward.

 

Importance of Annual Assessments

 

Regular assessments enable organizations to gauge the maturity and impact of their automation programs. By evaluating key metrics and benchmarks, teams can identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. This proactive approach enables organizations to stay ahead of evolving business needs, optimize automation strategies, and maximize ROI. Additionally, annual assessments foster collaboration among automation teams, aligning stakeholders toward common goals and driving continuous improvement.

 

About the Pathfinder Automation Program Self-Assessment

 

The Pathfinder Automation Program Self-Assessment, available in Pathfinder Mission Control, is a powerful tool designed to help organizations evaluate the maturity and effectiveness of their automation programs.

We think about program strength in terms of five areas:

  • Program
  • People
  • Pipeline
  • Production
  • Promotion

To build a strong program, each of these areas needs to be developed at a similar pace.

In the assessment, you’ll be asked 15 questions: three questions surrounding each of those five key areas. For each question, you’ll be asked to rate your program as being at the Start, Accelerate, or Scale stage of growth (or in between stages).

The assessment results provide actionable recommendations and tailored solutions to drive program growth and success.

 

Structuring the Assessment Meeting

 

To conduct an effective annual assessment, it's essential to gather key stakeholders from the automation team. Completing the Pathfinder Assessment as a team can be a powerful way to gain insights, brainstorm solutions, and align priorities for your automation program. Here’s our recommended approach to make the most out of your assessment meeting.

 

Meeting Structure

There's flexibility in how you approach the assessment. Whether you're looking for quick insights or deep discussion, tailor the process to your team's needs and goals. Here's a format that we recommend:

  • Allocate an hour of time
  • Invite key team members
  • Have everyone fill out the assessment (with the same answers) simultaneously during your meeting

 

Block Out Adequate Time

The assessment can be completed in under half an hour if you want, but we recommend planning for about an hour to allow sufficient time for discussions and decision-making, ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to contribute their insights and perspectives. If you want to use this time for more in-depth discussion and brainstorming (which we’ll talk about next), you may want to devote two hours to your session.

 

Brainstorming Approach

We see a lot of clients using the assessment as a springboard for brainstorming potential actions and solutions. Since the assessment is designed to evaluate diverse aspects of your program, every question can spark new ideas and strategies for improvement.

Assign someone to capture all ideas without worrying about prioritization during the meeting. The assessment is the main focus, and gathering ideas for later is a bonus!

 

Who to Invite

Your invitee list should align to your goals. People to consider include:

  • Executive Stakeholders: Invite high-level stakeholders if you aim to gain buy-in for your next priorities or you want their feedback. You could also consider inviting them for a brief session, then continue in more depth with your team.
  • Key Team Members: Engage team members deeply involved in your automation program, ensuring diverse perspectives are represented. This can include your COE Lead, the executive the COE Lead reports to, the development manager/lead, the business analyst lead, etc.

 

Logistics

To prepare, ensure all team members sign up for Pathfinder access (using their company email) in advance and have them attempt to start the assessment to avoid any access issues during the meeting.

During the meeting, everyone should have the assessment pulled up on their laptop to complete together. Designate one note-taker and one person to share their screen to align answers.

 

After the Assessment: What’s Next?

 

Once you've submitted your assessment, it's time to delve into the actionable insights provided by Automation Anywhere's recommended Missions. If you also used your assessment session for brainstorming, you'll want to start with an impact and urgency exercise. Otherwise, skip to the four-step approach to crafting your Missions and action plan.

 

Brainstorming Next Steps: Impact and Urgency Exercise

Before diving into crafting your action plan, it's essential to prioritize your action items based on their impact and urgency. Here's how to conduct an impact and urgency exercise effectively:

 

Setting Up the Whiteboard Session

Block out an hour or so for this exercise to ensure thorough consideration and discussion of each action idea. Gather post-it notes and markers for participants to jot down their action ideas.

 

Whiteboard Instructions

  1. Write Ideas: Write each action idea on a post-it.
  2. Map Impact and Urgency: Draw a cross-shaped graph on the whiteboard, with the x-axis representing urgency and the y-axis representing impact. Encourage participants to place post-its on the graph according to its perceived impact and urgency.
  3. Identify Priority Actions: As action ideas are placed on the graph, focus on identifying those that fall into the high-impact, high-urgency quadrant located in the top-right section.
  4. Record Prioritization: Record the prioritization of all actions in a spreadsheet or document to ensure clarity and accountability.

 

Adaptation for Online Collaboration

Utilize online collaboration tools such as Miro, Figjam, MURAL, or Microsoft Whiteboard to replicate the whiteboard exercise in a virtual setting. Conduct the exercise via video conferencing platforms, ensuring all participants have visibility of the virtual whiteboard and can contribute to the discussion.

By leveraging the impact and urgency exercise, you can effectively identify and prioritize high-impact, high-urgency actions that will drive meaningful progress in your automation journey.

 

4-Step Approach to Crafting Your Missions and Action Plan

Here are four steps to help you effectively translate insights from your assessment (and optional impact and urgency exercise) into tangible steps for driving progress and growth in your automation journey.

  1. Select Your Mission

Automation Anywhere typically suggests 2-3 missions tailored to your assessment responses. However, it's advisable to prioritize and select just one mission at a time to maintain focus.

Gather your team to discuss the recommended missions and collectively decide which one aligns best with your current goals and challenges.

  1. Unpack Mission Actions

Each mission comprises 10-15 actionable steps designed to address specific aspects of your automation program. Dive into each action to understand its purpose and the resources available to assist you in its execution.

  1. Craft Your Action Plan

Now it’s time to get to work.

  • Select Tools: Choose a project planning tool that suits your team's preferences, whether it's a spreadsheet, Jira, or any other collaborative platform.
  • List Actions: Transfer the chosen mission actions into your selected tool, ensuring clarity and specificity for each step. Feel free to add any additional actions suggested by your team that may be relevant to your unique context or requirements.
  • Assign Ownership: Assign a responsible team member to each action and set clear due dates to maintain accountability.
  • Follow Through: Establish regular check-ins, such as weekly standup meetings, to track progress, address challenges, and ensure alignment with the Mission's objectives.

 

Ready, Set, Assess!

 

Conducting annual assessments of your automation program is essential for driving success and maximizing ROI. By structuring collaborative meetings and leveraging the Pathfinder Automation Program Self-Assessment, organizations can gain valuable insights, align stakeholders, and accelerate their automation journey.

Embrace the opportunity to assess, adapt, and advance your automation initiatives for continued success in Intelligent Automation. Start planning and gather your team for an annual checkup.


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