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Is your CoE "too tight" or "too loose"? Let's solve the Goldilocks Challenge.
After successfully launching and slowly growing their intelligent automation (IA) programs over the past five years, many organizations are now struggling to dramatically scale their IA programs. Most IA programs have failed to reach a meaningful impact on their business’s performance, akin to the impact of other technology trends (e.g. cloud computing). In large part these organizations are a victim of the Goldilocks CoE Problem. Either their IA CoE is “too tight” or contrarily it is “too loose”.
When referring to a CoE as “too tight”, it is usually when an over-controlling IA CoE limits business engagement and initiative, slowing down discovery and delivery times by being an organizational bottleneck. By being “too loose”, the CoE is no more than a platform evaluator, operator, and license order taker. This results in either in little business IA adoption or an unregulated free for all that leads to a complex portfolio of automations with uneconomic on-going operating and maintenance costs. To scale successfully, take inspiration from Goldilocks herself. She sets the tone for how your organization’s CoE should be, somewhere in the middle, not too tight but also not too loose.
The organizations that have been able to dramatically scale the business impact of their IA program have been successful because they are significantly altering the capabilities and approach of their IA CoEs, including taking a more balanced and more clearly articulated loose-tight approach. Our experience is that these next generation IA CoEs have several common characteristics and we break them down for you below.
Most IA programs underachieve their potential because their metrics and goals need to evolve. The metrics driven by leading CoEs focus on four key dimensions:
1. Realized business performance impact
2. Achieved payback time
3. The level of business engagement and IA maturity
4. Progress on enterprise-wide capability building
Other supporting IA measures cascade naturally from these core metrics and goals, whether it is the health of the IA pipeline, time and cost for delivery metrics, or operating indicators.
Articulating, enabling, and monitoring a clear set of “loose-tight” IA operating best practices is the key. From IA discovery through to on-going IA operations and maintenance, leading CoEs are constantly revising and gaining agreement with their key business partners around the “loose-tight” aspect of the IA operating model within their organization. Leveraging economies of scope, these IA CoEs are quicker and better learners, communicators, and monitors of what is happening. The emergence of end-to-end tools that track potential IA opportunities from ideation through daily operations with business value captured, is helping organizations to be more fact-based in their learning and IA management.
Recruiting, developing, and distributing high quality IA talent throughout the organization can change the game. Given the relative early stage of IA, the difference in skills and depth of team between average organization and leading IA organizations is huge. Unlike other business functions, there currently is not a deep pool of IA talent, especially with the highly valued combination of business and technical skills. Leading organizations are developing unique recruiting and development programs to grow their own cadre of IA talent, usually initially within the CoE. Over time those skilled people ate distributed throughout the organization providing mentoring and assistance to IA nodes in various lines of business and shared functions. Growing and distributing IA talent is one of most unrecognized values of a leading IA CoE.
Consider leveraging your CoE talent to use emerging tools and approaches. Given the power of using IA automation to transform key business processes, it is only logical that leading CoEs are using IA tools and approaches to transform their own operations – automating the process of intelligent automation. For example, the use of automated code review tools can dramatically improve the speed and the quality of bot development whether from an offshore development team or a citizen developer. Approaches such as automating links with leading security platform, such as Venafi or CyberArk, improve the speed and accuracy of another step. Through applying a range of IA approaches, leading CoEs can effectively, and cost efficiently scale their reach and impact, enabling the entire IA program to move farther and faster.
Organizations that are moving aggressively to this type of IA CoE have been able to expand and scale their IA programs to achieve hundreds of millions in incremental business impact each year more rapidly. The expanded business impact is coming from multiple sources:
By enabling broader application of IA across the organization and associated business system. IA is no longer just focused on automating middle and back-office procedures primarily in shared services. Now it is driving dramatic performance improvements in customer experience (CX) and transforming core end-to-end business processes.
Bringing to bear a more extensive usage of the IA toolkit. While leading IA organizations are continuing to drive their bot-centric workstreams, they have expanded use of process discovery tools, intelligent document processing (IDP) capabilities and increasingly unstructured data platforms. These capabilities not only provide increase opportunities for automation but also provide a rich data stream for analytics capabilities embedded in most organizations to leverage further.
Leveraging enhanced IA capabilities and approaches throughout the organization. IA citizen development has the potential to unleash an order of magnitude increase business improvement from most IA programs. The linchpin to the success of citizen development is a CoE that can provide the “tightness” in selected IA disciplines and risk management approaches, while being “loose” enough to engage and motivate operating teams to identify and capture IA in their daily responsibilities.
Reveal Group experts can help you establish your Center of Excellence and provide mentored support. Contact Us to learn more.
Jack Jorgensen, Senior Consultant, based in Melbourne, Australia.
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