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How do you eat the automation elephant?

Automation technology has the potential to transform the way your business operates. It has been proven to significantly reduce your operating costs, increase employee satisfaction and retention and even help towards the achievement of your sustainability goals.We Appreciate all this probably sounds too good to be true, but we can vouch for the findings as we have first hand experience in the work we’ve done with our clients.

This leads to the question we really wanted to tackle in this post. As transformative as automation technology is, there are plenty of technology teams beginning to realise just how daunting the implementation task can be. So, given the work we’ve done on the design and implementation of automation solutions for our clients, We thought I’d share a few learnings and tips to help you get started on your automation journey.

The challenges

Organisations face a range of challenges when trying to implement automation technology, from resistance to change to lack of expertise. Here are some of the most common challenges we’ve witnessed and a few suggestions on how to overcome them.

Resistance to Change
One of the biggest challenges organisations face when implementing automation technology is resistance to change. Employees may be hesitant to embrace new technology or may be worried about job security. To overcome this challenge, organisations must communicate the benefits of automation technology and involve employees in the implementation process. By involving employees in the process, both the organisation and the employees will benefit as everyone is more informed about the overall and personal improvements and potential risks.

Integration with Existing Systems
Like any integration with legacy systems, integrating automation technology with existing systems can be a real challenge. Automation technology may need to work with legacy systems or other technologies that are not designed to work together. To overcome this challenge, organisations should carefully evaluate their existing systems and choose automation technology that is compatible with their current infrastructure. They may also need to invest in additional tools or services to ensure that their systems can work together seamlessly.

Skill challenges
A lack of expertise in the business is a pretty common challenge. Afterall, it is relatively new and in many cases untested. Implementing automation technology requires specialised knowledge and skills that may not be available in-house. To overcome this challenge, organisations can partner with experts in automation technology or invest in training for their employees. The decision to outsource or train will ultimately be determined by the breadth of your automation ambition. In many cases it will require a bit of both.

Cost
Automation technology, and the cost of implementation and management can be expensive, and organisations may need to invest in new hardware, software, or services to implement it successfully. To overcome this challenge, organisations should carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of automation technology and develop a clear business case for its implementation. They may also consider implementing automation technology in phases to spread out the costs over time. Which raises the question of Opex vs Capex and the organisation’s preference.

Where to begin?

Identify Areas for Automation
The first step in implementing automation technology is to identify areas of your business that can benefit from automation. This could include routine tasks like patching for security vulnerabilities, data entry, report generation, and customer service inquiries through to cloud and application resource management. By automating these tasks, you can free up your employees’ time to focus on more strategic initiatives.

The opportunity is significant. According to a study by McKinsey, automation technology can help businesses reduce their operating costs by up to 20%, by eliminating waste, reducing errors, and optimising their processes.

Choose the Right Technology
Once you’ve identified areas for automation, the next step is to choose the right technology. There are many different types of automation technology available, from robotic process automation (RPA) to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It’s important to choose the technology that best fits your business needs and goals.

Develop a Clear Implementation Plan
Implementing automation technology requires careful planning and execution. It’s important to develop a clear plan that outlines the steps you need to take to implement the technology successfully. This plan should include timelines, milestones, and metrics to measure success.

Invest in Training and Support
Automation requires specialised knowledge and skills. It’s important to invest in training and support for your employees to ensure that they have the expertise they need to implement and use automation technology effectively. An alternative is to outsource the implementation and ongoing management of the solution.

According to a survey by ServiceNow, employees spend up to 40% of their time on routine tasks like data entry and report generation. 

By automating these tasks, businesses can free up employees’ time to focus on more strategic initiatives, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and employee retention.

Conclusion
Implementing automation technology can be a complex and challenging process, but the benefits are significant. By identifying areas for automation, choosing the right technology, developing a clear implementation plan, and investing in training and support, businesses can successfully implement automation technology and reap the rewards of increased productivity, efficiency, and innovation.

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