I agree that new processes should be designed with an eye towards automation.
1. It is always easier to design upfront for automation, then try to implement tools on a fragmented landscape later on. This holds true for design for purpose, which also applies for automation implementation. That being said this is an element of the design, not the over-riding priority. The top priority still needs to design the process to deliver what the customer needs from that process, ideally with lean concepts embedded from the beginning. The bigger item is to make sure the design/systems implemented are incorporated into a common infrastructure model as mentioned below.
2. The biggest enabler for process automation is the infrastructure. I highly recommend a COE or at a minimum a set of standards for each organization on how they want to support, collect, organize, integrate, analyze, visualize, secure and archive data. When we first did this at ABI in an enterprise architecture tool the data flows looked worse than a spaghetti diagram because our base was so fragmented. We solved this by creating global standards for how we would support our processes from a data, infrastructure and application perspective. But next step was equally important which was we created the authority to govern and enforce these standards and embedded them into our procurement processes so that new products/systems all were checked against these standards to avoid further fragmentation. The real value of automation comes at scale, and that scale cannot be achieved without a common infrastructure design.
3. Leverage technologies like Robotic Process Automation to eliminate waste and automate process workflows & decisions that are static. There are economies of skill to build a central team in this area that is building BOTs and automating workflows across the business to ensure speed of delivery. These tools can also typically be integrated on top of a fragmented landscape but scale much faster also based on a common infrastructure.
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