In this blog, we take a further look at how CSPs can organise for success when implementing Automation in their business. This includes setting up a Centre of Excellence, robust governance and effective benchmarking.
Identifying Effective Areas to Leverage
Organising for success in the context of automation involves setting up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) as a critical foundation. The CoE plays a central role in driving Automation projects, promoting best practices, and fostering collaboration across departments. It serves as a repository of knowledge and expertise, maintaining a directory of automations and integration capabilities.
The CoE identifies areas where Automation can be effectively leveraged to drive business growth and improve operational efficiency. In addition to the CoE, it is also essential to establish clear governance structures, including dedicated Automation teams and cross-functional collaboration.
For an Enterprise automating at scale these ‘dedicated automation teams’ are “line of business” or Project specific and are supported and enabled by a central CoE which provides guidance and access to SME’s (Tools, practice and methodology etc) These teams must work in tandem with business leaders, technology experts, and subject matter experts to identify suitable Automation Use Cases and ensure seamless implementation.
A robust communication framework is vital to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned with the Automation strategy and its objectives. By creating a well-organised and collaborative ecosystem involving benchmarking and governance, CSPs can unlock the full potential of Automation.
What is a Centre of Excellence?
The Centre of Excellence (CoE) plays a pivotal role in organisations where business users themselves are actively involved in creating Automation solutions. It is not a rigid, high-level organisation but a flexible and agile entity that provides support and enablement for Automation initiatives.
When Enterprises are automating at scale it is essential to ensure that there is a consistent and coherent approach to automation across the whole business. As we have said, the structure and form of CoE’s will vary considerably from business to business and these can be centralised or decentralised and should provide access to automation “go-to” experts. The primary functions of a CoE should include:
- Executive Sponsorship: Automation is a strategic imperative and as such need’s visible executive leadership, empowerment, over-sight, and guidance.
- Technology: Knowledge on the selected automation tools and their integrations with each other and the systems being automated.
- Governance and Guidance:
- Methodologies & best practice: Best practice covering the entire life-cycle of automation from ideation, evaluation, selection, implementation, in-life support and end of life.
- Architecture and Design: This would cover best practices of how to design and implement automation optimising use of the portfolio of tools available. A key aspect of this would be to ensure re-use of repeatable or frequently used automation sequences are identified, built appropriately, visible, and available across all teams.
- Standards and templates: Defined, available and consistently implemented and used.
- Security and Risk Management: Asset curation and management: Libraries of automation, version control and management, gates, and approvals to manage production use. These technical capabilities should be an inherent function and feature of strategic tools.
- Value/benefit identification, metrication, monitoring, and reporting
- Skills and Training: Learning paths, resources and schemes for teams and individuals.
- Communication: Crowd source ideation and innovation, stakeholder engagement and celebrate successes.
How can CSPs ensure effective governance of its Automation capability?
Governance is crucial to ensure effective Automation implementation. This involves providing a structured framework for evaluating Use Cases, considering technical aspects, business value, and alignment with company strategy. By establishing a Centre of Excellence, organisations can control the Automation process, standardise tools, and monitor performance.
Additionally, governance helps manage Human-In-The-Loop participation, gradually reducing it as confidence in Automation grows. Ensuring data reliability, integration capabilities, and adherence to protocols are vital components of governance.
Within the CoE, there are experts proficient in the automation tools being used, and an executive sponsor who can facilitate decision-making and unblock any hurdles that may arise. Correct tool usage is emphasised, ensuring that each tool is employed for its intended functionality. For instance, if a customer was automating events through a trouble ticketing system, the CoE might advise transferring the event management to a more suitable automation platform, thus avoiding ticket overload.
The CoE also actively monitors and evaluates existing automations to ensure their continued appropriateness and efficiency. An example is when a customer’s automation needed adjustments due to changes in the environment. The CoE identified the inefficiencies and improved the automation accordingly.
Overall, the CoE’s central role is to provide governance, maintain standards, and foster excellence in automation across the organisation. As different businesses have unique cultures and requirements, the CoE’s approach may vary, but its mission remains focused on driving transformative automation initiatives effectively.
What is Benchmarking?
‘You need to keep relevant to keep relevant, you need to measure, report, and assess. And if you don’t measure rapport and assess the value and continued value of unreality of the automation, it atrophies. And that’s a very dangerous thing. One of the things that you can end up with is that the automation no longer becomes relevant.’
-Eddie Watson, Operations Director, CORTEX
Benchmarking is essential for assessing the efficacy of Automation projects. Most analysts are now in agreement that the metrication, measurement and reporting of the value and benefits of automation are critical for success. It helps measure the benefits, monitor performance, and continuously evaluate Automation’s impact on the business. Neglecting benchmarking can lead to misconceptions about the value of Automation and may result in issues such as inaccurate data and operational inefficiencies.
CSPs should be aware that when Automation is working well, there is a tendency towards “out of sight, out of mind”. A close eye needs to be kept upon all aspects of the Automation process to ensure that what worked yesterday will carry on working today and tomorrow.
Continuous, small incremental changes to automation are relevant. In 1993, the speed of the Internet was 9.6 kilobits per second. Today, we are sitting at 500 megabits per second, the benchmark is orders of magnitude different. It’s the same with automation, you need to stay relevant!
CSPs need to have processes in place to measure, report, and assess their Automations on a regular basis. If CSPs don’t have measures in place to assess the performance of their Automation, it atrophies. And that’s a very dangerous thing.
Benchmarking Case Study: Dirty Data Lake
We Are CORTEX worked with a CSP who had automated their data feed into a data lake to streamline their processes. However, they were facing significant billing problems. It was discovered that the Automation had not been appropriately benchmarked and lacked contextual understanding. There was also no comprehensive monitoring in place.
As a result, the Automation had drifted over time, leading to improper usage and the influx of erroneous data into the data lake. This, in turn, compromised the overall data quality, leading to inaccuracies in billing processes.
Downstream this led to peaks of calls to the Contact Centre, so increased workloads on them, unhappy customers with incorrect bills, then longer waiting times to chat with an agent, who they didn’t want to have to call to begin with. Agent queries went to billing systems which created tickets for billing teams, who in turn had extra work to resolve the query to the customers satisfaction, or business need. Lots of time wasted, customer goodwill burned, and money spent, all because RPA bots had lost context.
The above example underscores the importance of effective benchmarking. In a dynamic world where processes, businesses, and technologies are constantly evolving, accurate and up-to-date benchmarking is vital. Without it, Automation can easily become obsolete and fail to deliver the intended benefits, causing significant challenges and inefficiencies within an organisation.
In conclusion, the Automation landscape is multifaceted. As a result, successful implementation demands the establishment of a robust Centre of Excellence (CoE), effective governance and accurate benchmarking. By embracing these principles and practices, CSPs can harness the full potential of automation and stay at the forefront of innovation in their industry.
Want to find out more about how to take your automation projects to the next level? Download our free eBook, An Expert’s Guide to Automation Success.