Implementing complex automation projects in your organization can have a lot of paybacks, but the success of such an endeavor depends on several important factors.
Not just it requires an experienced team to implement it, it also requires a perfect alignment between people, process, and technology, guided by the right automation strategy.
Talking on these lines further, Business and IT alignment is the foundation for any ambitious automation initiative.
Related: Why Focus on People in the Age of Automation?
Gartner recently named RPA as the fastest-growing segment of the enterprise software market; yet there have been consistent reports indicating that organizations frequently get stuck after an initial success, with as high as 50% of RPA deployments initially failing.
According to a Forbes article, 54% of technological failures are due to poor management, whereas technical problems cause only 3% of failures.
This implies that most failures of automation projects can be attributed to people and process silos proliferated by the various disjointed tools and technologies that businesses implement, paradoxically in an attempt to achieve transformation.
Simply using the latest technologies is not enough. Rather, digital maturity requires a complete transformation in organizational work culture and thinking.
Why Business and IT alignment is important for automation projects
With continuous and air-tight alignment between business and IT, businesses function better, get better results, make more profit, and witness better ROI as they hit their goals with less effort.
Such is the impact of this synergy, that organizations have witnessed increased efficiency of technology investments and expressively reduced the financial and operational risks associated with business and technical transformation.
Read: Internal Communications Strategy: Why Every Business Needs One
Alignment between business and IT helps in creating true value for customers also and respond quickly to customers and users.
While there is no standard method to align business and IT successfully, an organization where IT and business strategy are in lock-step can expand operational efficiencies and agility significantly.
Remember, without a granular strategy, organizations may spend too much on technology without being able to solve the business challenges they face due to different departmental objectives, clashes, and cultural differences.
Simply put, business and IT alignment integrate technology with the strategy, mission, and goals of an organization.
Benefits of alignment between business and IT:
- Improved collaboration between departments
- Greater industry and IT agility
- Faster time-to-market
- Increased profitability and overall revenue
- Enhanced customer experience
- Strategic technological transformation
The next obvious question is, how can we achieve this alignment. Understanding customer pain points is imperative and must be acknowledged, understood, and identified well before accepting the project.
Otherwise, without proper planning and staffing, the project will waste time, money, and other resources.
Steps to Managing Complex Automation Projects
Refer to below shared steps derived from real-world experiences of managing complex automation projects to enable you to achieve your business and IT alignment strategies:
Step #1: Make all stakeholders understand project demands clearly
To guarantee that the project is successful, it is recommended to evaluate the workload requirements for all resources involved before the execution of the project.
One common lapse is underestimating the detailed knowledge required to provide accurate data or review/approvals required. Such omissions can be detrimental to success and all work loading should be properly planned and staffed for success
Step #2: Involve stakeholders early in the project and communicate guidelines
It is important to have all stakeholders involved early at the beginning of the project. It will be a smart step to dedicate the initial time of the project to establish a strong foundation based on ethical business practices.
It is important to discuss the interactions between groups and define the scope of the projects, challenges, and limitations.
Define the clear guidelines of how new requests, submittals, deadlines, and out-of-scope requests will be handled.
Managing a business is easy when the project is within schedule and budget. However, when deadlines are forthcoming and stakes are high, a good understanding between all stakeholders always works to address issues to avoid reaching a high-stress situation.
Step #3: Request for feedback often
Embrace the continual improvement method. This implies that all stakeholders should ask for feedback and move ahead; ask for a direct and honest review after every stage is completed.
Honest feedback is the only way to improve and eliminate errors. This is a two-way street for all stakeholders of the project, implying that both customers and service providers should have an open discussion.
Depending on the project size and timelines, timelines for milestone reviews can be set on a periodic basis. All issues and actions should be put on the table, discussed, and followed-up on for each review session.
Step #4: Get the higher management onboard
Take upper management buy-in early in the project to have everyone’s commitment to the success of the project. Establish an open-door policy to help everyone in the project share their opinion and current issues at hand and provide primary decision-makers with first-hand information.
These meetings should be more strategic than tactical. Review meetings with management should not be the standard weekly or bi-weekly meeting attendees. Fix a separate time to review only the key issues; however, keep management aware of the project status on a regular basis.
Step #5: Hold stakeholders accountable
All stakeholders should be held accountable to deliver their piece of the project and/or information needed to take the project to completion. Fix deadlines for delivery and advise the team to not defer from that or follow generic timelines.
This is no rocket science that if delivery items are delayed then the following predecessor items will be delayed as well. All weekly/monthly deliverables and deadlines should be reviewed at every meeting to ensure everyone fully understands and owns the responsibilities. Joint synergy and commitment from all stakeholders will result in project success.
Step #6: Follow the process
An experienced and professional team follows a defined and qualified process and this makes all the difference between success and failure.
Avoid a custom approach or a non-proven strategy to tiptoe into your project. Cutting a new unidentified path or re-inventing the wheel only invokes a level of uncertainty to the project outcome.
When schedules become tight and deadlines approach, most people search for ways to cut corners and this is where problem begins. Assess the impact or probable impact of all actions and at the same time have conviction in the proven process to lead you to success.
Step #7: Learn from mistakes
When you make a mistake, there are 3 things you should do about it: acknowledge it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.
Mistakes are not completely bad! Mistakes are bound to happen, but what is central is, to be honest, and acknowledge the mistake, identify how to correct the situation, and offer a solution to prevent that mistake from happening again.
Keeping open communication and providing authentic, fair feedback with all stakeholders is always the best policy. This approach always acts in the best interest of your customer and will always yield positive results.
In a nutshell…
All successful projects have adversities throughout the project life cycle. Common attributes of successful projects are upholding responsibilities from all stakeholders and acceptance of what went wrong. Persistence to work through those issues establishes a level of trust and understanding that builds healthy work relationships.
An open culture of continuous improvement and dedication to success are critical to forming a strong partnership to provide long-term engagement. It is a good idea to keep your management involved, hardening the commitment.
Encourage clear communication with realistic expectations while adhering to the most ethical business practices will surely bring success to your projects.
Understanding business and IT alignment assist successfully implement mature technologies, including Artificial Intelligence(AI), Intelligent Automation (IA), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with enhanced team support and upgraded customer experience.
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