Since outstanding productivity results can be achieve through automation through automation which would never been attained by applying traditional continuous improvement methodologies, organizations can’t afford not to include Smart Automation within their productivity strategy. First and foremost, there are an undeniable impact on creating process capacity, however not all processes are ready to be automated and in many cases variability and wastes should be addressed before introducing a “robot”. Moreover, the potential capacity that can be created through automation might vary a lot among processes due to frequency and FTEs involved in execution. Secondly, depending on how processes’ created capacity is managed there will be or not a throughput increased with an E2E approach by reducing not only processing but also delivery’s time. Last but not least, after ensuring that value is being created through “robots” introduction in the short term, there are three key elements that will safeguard organization’s sustainability and value creation in the long-term and therefore must be included within the Smart Automation strategy: Governance, maintenance as well as change and stakeholders management.
Who is process owner after automation?
After fully automation of a process, all that remains from it could be seen just as “a code” and this vision can lead to think that IT is the new process owner. Nevertheless, smart automation purpose is not organization’s operational areas elimination to create one huge IT mega-structure which accountable for all organization’s processes. What is physical obvious within manufacturing environments, could be not so evident within an office, but same organizational rules apply. To begin with, there must be a governance plan which could be easily created by using the RACI approach to create accountability for “robots” availability, utilization and quality and there is no need to start from scratch because it is already known that IT, Operations and QA areas respectively accountable for each of these functions. Then KPIs must be developed to measure availability as uptime, utilization as productivity and quality as “right first time” because it is important to remember that “what can’t measure, can’t be manage”. Furthermore, KPIs must be frequently reviewed as well as integrated within an “overall robot effectiveness” (ORE) metric which is the equivalent to “overall equipment effectiveness” (OEE) within manufacturing environments.
How to drive “robots” productive maintenance?
Since many organizations are just starting to introduce “robots” without an integrated strategy and E2E approach, they don’t realize that although these “robots” don’t need oil, they need maintenance and that it is not for free. Because of not having a physical representation of “robots” organizations might believe that they are not there and therefore after automating a process “robot” will go on working forever by themselves. However, this is not the case and just like machines within manufacturing environment need maintenance, “robots” in an office need it as well. Following the same line of reasoning that led to the use of “OEE” as KPI, “total productive maintenance” (TPM) can be used as not only as a maintenance strategy but also as a productivity framework to maximize “overall robot effectiveness” (ORE) by minimizing maintenance, productive and poor quality’s costs. Though before starting with TPM’s 8 pillars, let’s begin with basic concept of maintainability and reliability which will lead the organization to move forward from quick fixes to preventive and predictive maintenance which are essential to ensure “robots” availability high as well as maintenance costs low. From there, following TPM philosophy but adapting pillars and tools, transactional organizations will be able to increase their productivity from its “robots” just like manufacturing ones did from their machines.
How to manage change and develop new skills within the team?
While the governance plan is ensuring accountability and transparency in performance as well as the maintenance one is guaranteeing “robots” availability, utilization and quality, there must be a change and stakeholders management plan. On one hand, almost all organizations perform the testing of automation solution before introducing “robots” in production environments. On the other, only few organizations include within their change and stakeholder’s management plans first how to communicate automation to their people and then how to ensure an effective collaboration between the “robots” and the people. Of course, formal change management methodologies such as “Prosci” with its ADKAR framework might be helpful, however they can’t replace vision and leadership which should be there all the way during the automation journey. If people perceive “robots” as a threat, they are going to resist change as well as if “robots” are presented as the ones who now are running the show they are going to be completely disempowered. Therefore, an effective communication plan is needed to create a shared and inclusive vision about automation within the organization. Moreover, new skills should be developed to help people to partnership effectively with “robots” by adopting a new role in which the are accountable for “robots’ productivity and quality. Furthermore, by achieving people see robots as enablers instead of competitors, the organization is not only ensuring robots will be welcomed but also that they will be the bottom-line for performance and not the roof.
Thanks for Reading.