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FUTURE LOOK |

Automation Alert: 5 Steps to a Digital Age Transformation

Putting your organization through a digital transformation is a daunting, yet necessary task that many companies face.

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While most businesses realize automation will improve their efficiency and maximize ROI, figuring out where to begin the process is a challenge within itself.

Mercer has laid out a five-step process for organizations to follow to achieve successful digital transformation and automation strategy.

1) Identify the functions in your organization that needs to be automated and the ones that can remain manual.

Assigning high-volume, business-critical tasks that most people would be happy to give up to a software bot frees up the department in question to provide faster and more accurate service, save money and give people more interesting things to do. However, not every job is ripe for automation. For example, tasks that truly benefit from a human touch might be best left alone. The same goes for processes that may be monotonous but require very little manpower and don't warrant the cost of automation.

“You really need to find things that have the high transaction volumes, the high manual steps, high ability to rules to automate them and that’s what you need to focus on,” said Karen Piercy, a partner at Mercer. “Most organizations need to come up with an ROI for automation. When you look at jobs that may seem super manual, but have low volumes, those might not meet the criteria and it might just stay better manual. When you’re looking at automating something, look at your current technology and see how you can improve that process.”

2) Understand who is responsible for carrying out the process.

Each scenario will be different. For example, an off-the-shelf robotic process automation (RPA) product for a standard business process may suffice, but more unique and complex processes might require custom-built solutions. Before choosing a solution for the process in review, companies will need to know exactly who carries out the process, how often, what other systems might be indirectly affected, and who's counting on the results.

3-4) Meet employees where they are and include them in the conversation when it comes to automating processes in the business. 

When talk of automating processes begins, the rumor mill kicks into high gear. Employees get concerned about how their jobs might change and whether layoffs loom on the horizon. Organizations should get ahead of the curve and communicate proactively and transparently about their automation strategy. Keep people at the heart of transformation efforts and help them understand the benefits that automation will bring to the organization and, if applicable, to them as individuals.

If automation will lead to job losses or changing roles, be prepared to outline the company’s plans for reskilling and reorganizing roles. Also, keep in mind that the message may vary for different stakeholder groups.

“You want to use technology to support the way employees, managers and leaders interact with HR,” Piercy said. “If you’re looking at your HR function that way based on your interactions with employees, managers, leaders and other customers, then you really want to look at the employee experience in terms of using the technology. You really need to look at the technology and whether you’re making it easy for the employees.”

5) Set a realistic timeline to accomplish this digital transformation.

Part of the planning process includes identifying key stakeholder groups — those affected by the automation — and sharing expectations for how the changes will play out in the short term and further down the road. While it's common for companies to set aggressive goals for the launch, it's important to remember that automation doesn't happen in a vacuum.

The timing may be impacted by any number of other initiatives, such as technology platform changes, acquisitions or divestitures that compete for resources and could alter the automation plan. For nearly every large company — and many smaller companies, as well — automation is an inevitability, as speed, precision and flexibility are requisites for success.

Companies that take advantage of automation to cut costs and maximize the potential of their employees will be the true winners of the digital age. 

 

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION ROUNDUP

HR’s Role

Digital transformation is about technology, but it’s also largely about people and how they adapt, work with and augment technology to support organizational goals, writes Karen Mann for HR Technologist. Mann notes that HR is in a unique position to help organizations not only navigate this turbulence but also to help position employees to succeed in a digital world.

Tomorrow’s Workplace

William Smith of Gigabit Magazine imagines what the future workplace will look like after undergoing full digital transformation. Smith paints a picture of what the future standard office environment could look like, as well as the industry workplace where automation is already becoming a key part of the manufacturing process.

3 Ways to Lead Digital Transformation

HR departments are more important than ever in shaping corporate culture to support digital transformation, writes Julie Develin of CMS Wire. Develin lists three ways that HR can lead the organization as it undergoes a digital transformation.

The Solution to UK Talent Shortages

James Cook of The Telegraph cites a report to write about how robots are an obvious solution to staff shortages in the United Kingdom. Cook notes that the increased use of robots in the workplace was essential for British businesses following the country’s departure from the European Union.

About the Author

Brett Christie Bio Image

Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.


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