Automation Pathfinder Program

Workshop for Setting Goals

  • 21 February 2023
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Workshop for Setting Goals
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Setting strategic goals helps your organization, and more specifically - your automation team, know exactly what to focus on - as well as how their roles align to a much greater objective. It’s important to not only set, but also to clearly communicate, these goals. They’ll set the tone for your automation program’s early progress and help your organization make significant progress in its digital transformation journey. Let’s take a look at some questions you can ask yourself (and your team) as you craft both your short-term, and long-term goals as they relate to setting SMART goals.
 

What are SMART goals?

 

The SMART of SMART Goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Evaluating and defining all of these parameters as you design a compelling program vision and goals will enable your automation program to have tangible targets as you embark on your automation journey

Side Note: Though this is written for leaders just getting started with an automation program” leaders, it still applies to a fully-realized program. 

 

S: Specific

 

Effective goalshave a specific and narrow objective. Specific goals help teams stay motivated and engaged as the goal isn’t some general “nice to have” so much as a clearly laid out, call to action. A specific goal answers questions like:

  • What will be accomplished?
  • What actions need to be taken in order to reach this goal?
  • Who is responsible for making this goal a reality?

Let’s look at what goals for an Automation Program helping Human Resources become more efficient can look like.

Automation Program Example:
The Automation team will help reduce the amount of mundane, error-prone, repetitive work in the Human Resources division by creating automations to assist with common employee assistance requests, employee on-boarding, and recruiting.

 

M: Measurable

 

Management guru Peter Drucker once said “What gets measured, gets done”. In order to track the outcome and progress of your automation goals, you’ll need to make sure they are measurable. Measurable goals are typically quantitive or binary (true/false - we hit it) measurements and answers questions like:

  • What data will we use to measure this goal?
    • How much of an improvement/savings/benefit?

Our original Automation Program goal was a good start, but wasn’t measurable. By adjusting it to have a specific annual savings, there’s instantly better guidance - and it’s clear the types of use cases that should be prioritized to meet the savings goal.
 

Automation Program Example:
The Automation team will help to reduce the amount of mundane, error-prone, repetitive work in the Human Resources division, saving the team 400 hours annually. We’ll do it by creating automations to assist with common employee assistance requests, employee on-boarding, and recruiting.

 

A: Achievable

 

For goals to be effective, they also have to be achievable. It’s okay to recognize that certain aspects of your goal planning represent “stretch” goals, but work to refine your goals to objectives that the team can reasonably accomplish. Ensuring goals are achievable may mean making sure you’ve really thought through roadblocks. You clearly don’t want to set expectations too high - especially if your automation program is just starting. For achievable goals, consider:

  • Is this goal doable?
  • Do I (and team) have the necessary skills?
  • What additional resources would be needed to effectively meet this objective?

 

For our Automation Program example, scaling back the objectives, especially when getting started, is a great way to avoid being labeled as a program that over promises, and under delivers. As you begin to establish program momentum and can reasonably measure your development velocity, the achievable component of your goals should become easier.

Automation Program Example:
The Automation team will help to reduce the amount of mundane, error-prone, repetitive work in the Human Resources division, saving the team 300 hours annually, by creating automations to assist with employee on-boarding.

 

R: Relevant

 

It doesn’t make sense to set goals for the sake of setting goals - so its important that the goals you design are relevant. Relevant goals align with other organizational objectives, and ideally align closely with digital transformation objectives as well. Relevant goals clearly call out why this goal is important, and what it has to do with the mission at hand.

For our Automation Program example, its important to call out why this goal is relevant to the organization and what benefit can be delivered through its implementation. Some goals may have very clear business value, while others may impact aspects of your business like cash flow, accuracy, audit, customer experience, fraud, data error reduction, etc. Clearly communicating this value in your goals helps to ensure they’re relevant to the organization’s objectives.

Automation Program Example:
The Automation team will help to reduce the amount of mundane, error-prone, repetitive work in the Human Resources division, saving the team 300 hours annually. We’ll do it by creating automations to assist with employee on-boarding. Because the HR team has been overwhelmed for years, delivered automations around this effort will help the organization’s bottom line by reducing the need to hire additional staff. It will also improve how quickly we can move from candidate to employee.

 

T: Time-Bound

 

It’s important that your organization’s leadership team, as well as the team working on and benefiting from automations has appropriate delivery expectations. For this reason, its important that goals be time-bound. Without a defined deadline, time may feel endless, and because realistic goals keep efforts accountable, its important that they do have a specific delivery time.

In setting Automation Program goals, especially if automation capabilities are new to your organization, it’s important that you don’t overestimate what you can do in a set period of time. To gain experience identifying appropriate use cases, managing a pipeline, estimating development effort, and delivering automations, you’ll be in a better place to be more accurate in time-bound goals. If you’re just getting started: don’t over-commit. If you get done earlier than expected, great. If there are some delays in getting VDIs set up or documenting the FULL use case and not just the happy path - great, you didn’t over-commit, so you still have some space in your timeline. Plus, you’ll know for next time how to better approximate the time needed to deliver on goals.

Automation Program Example:
The Automation team will help to reduce the amount of mundane, error-prone, repetitive work in the Human Resources division, saving the team 300 hours annually by the end of Q3 of 2023. This will be accomplished by creating automations to assist with employee on-boarding. Because the HR team has been overwhelmed for years, delivered automations around this effort will help the organization’s bottom line by reducing the need to hire additional staff and improve how quickly we can move from candidate to employee.

 

Conclusion

 

Knowing how to set goals using the SMART framework can help you streamline the process of creating goals for your automation program. As you create and refine your goals, be sure to review them with key stakeholders and trusted peers to ensure that they are clear, concise, and written in a way that makes them comply with the SMART framework. Revisit this goal setting information often as you frequently create new goals for your automation program.


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