Who or what stands behind the successfully implemented automation? How to successfully implement the project plan?
The role of Change management is to assess organizational readiness for a change. Moreover, it helps to determine the sources of resistance and ability to implement respective change. In the last few years Automation became a technology trend. It is also the path the business should follow to optimize processes, eliminate the risk of mistakes, have full control over daily tasks and secure the process continuity. Well-designed automation strategy in the organizations contributes to the overall business results.
How to successfully achieve this? Most often by the cooperation with internal and external parties. SSC and GBS are very frequently supported by external consultants, who provide automation solution. Having the right resources is the first step to start the business case preparation and define expectations and timelines. This is a collaborative and comprehensive project management approach, followed by right methodology and driven by real practitioners with proven experience. As an external consultant it is easier to objectively assess the situation in the organization.
The discussion about preparation is definitely not a one-time activity but it is rather a complex and exciting journey, from the first brainstorming sessions to the final implementation. This long process requires first of all well design project plan – but not only that. It is also a large investment in resources and their time. My intention is to emphasize who is the mastermind behind the final automation tool or improvement in the background, or even where to redirect the strength when difficulties arise. As a practitioner and consultant involved in many projects I had a chance to build the real framework and work on different stages of the projects. In few cases I had to jump in the middle of the project and evaluate effectiveness of implementation and solution performance. At other times my task was to enforce changes in the process and desired adjustments completion. What I have noticed is that there is a gap on how to transparently collect requirements from relevant departments and how to effectively manage communication package. Without exaggerating, change management plays a leading role and should be an indispensable element in planning the entire stage.
The role of change management is to assess organizational readiness for a change. Moreover, it helps to determine the sources of resistance and ability to implement respective change. In time, consistent and standardized communication builds trust and openness for change. Automation is a newly created trend and people are simply afraid of the new ways of working and are becoming suspicious. Let’s then develop effective communication plan and materials dedicated to respective audience as a credible source of information.
Human aspects and automation? Two contradictory thoughts. Automation leads to minimizing human intervention – that is completely true but you cannot underestimate the importance of the Teams engagement during project planning. The solution phase of the project must indicate the importance of collecting technical requirements and creating functional design. How to deliver it? Put the effort on coordination managed by experts with strong focus on requirements.
Well-designed deployment plan certainly should include the correct phases and milestones with carefully planned and agreed lead time. Starting from initiation stage, there will always be a need to engage the relevant stakeholders. We must ensure consistent and transparent communication to the right group of people and align on their commitment. Never forget to collect information from line employees who can identify the gaps and mitigate the risk. They play the key role in finding potential for automation as they face the problems with the processes on daily basis. As a consultant supporting few projects I observed lack of involvement of relevant employees. As the business environment is constantly changing, it is crucial to analyze all relevant factors, consider customer expectations and people who cope with them on a daily basis.
How to acquire the knowledge and carefully map the processes to ensure that nothing is overlooked or forgotten?
“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein.
Always make sure that people, who are responsible for daily processes or services, take part in the discussions about the upcoming change. They need to know what their role will be. Map and deploy
new skills and requirements in the organization, which are critical for successful change deployment. Ensure they will be informed about their future positions and tasks. Minimize the risk of attrition of key user and ensure they will be a part of project plan and preparation. Involve also the employees who deal with customer on the daily basis and who can predict customer’s expectation and reactions. Their vast experience and the relationship build with the client is therefore
an invaluable insight into the process. The key element is to give them the voice and give them the space to point out the elements we need to consider. Make certain that their knowledge is retained. In case the process is changed, the knowledge repository must be updated so that the automations may run smoothly. In such dynamically developing environment customer needs, and thus the processes, require continuous improvement.
Gather the people from different departments (key users, process owners) who work together in the respective process. Check the test cases and make sure that all stakeholders understand them. Before first go live prepare the communication letter and make sure who will support with incoming questions, queries or even navigate if panic arises. Human aspects and automation? Two contradictory thoughts. Automation leads to minimizing human intervention – that is completely true but you cannot underestimate the importance of the Teams engagement during project planning. If there are errors in the system and data is not automatically populated we need to decide, who should continue the process manually. Who will be a decision maker? What is the emergency plan? We need to deliver goods to customer but we cannot see the order in the system – it is an issue. Make sure that organization is prepared and secured and know how to ensure business continuity.
Well informed users with new mindset, keen on continuous improvement can quickly support the change. Implement and monitor the change execution using the support plan. Introduce engagement sessions and a training curriculum to support when questions appear. Develop measurable performance indicators and set milestones to celebrate achievements.
Make sure there is a time for daily, weekly, monthly calls to maintain communication and cooperation between respective departments on a right level. At this stage questions will arise. One of the important element is training framework, especially educational platform dedicated to end user covering functional areas.
Don’t blame each other even if it doesn’t work perfectly, find the root cause and involve people in conversation on how to improve current state. Check the emotion barometer and try to prevent conflicts. Ensure the space for questions and exchange of thoughts. At the beginning, employees will enforce the old way of working and find as many excuses as possible to not follow new process. Change is aways difficult, therefore additional training sessions will help employees to adapt to the new environment. Feeling comfortable with the new tools will allow employees to be productive and optimistic about their work.
Automation is a process we need to adapt to. Remember to focus on the communication, keep it on the required level and find the benefits from the automation solutions. Establishing the right culture
and environment supporting sustainability of desired change deployment is a must. At the end, people will be proud to be a part of change and quickly notice benefits and plan the right development path for the future. In that respect it is worth to use the expertise of people with proven experience. They can navigate the company, contribute to finding benefits and mitigating the potential risks and, at the end, show the bright sight of the change.
„Create a define plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether You’re ready or not, to put it into action”… – Napoleon.
Article was written by Anna Borowska, Program Manager/Senior Consultant at Adaptive Solutions & Advisory Group, published in Focus on Business 5/2022.
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