After more than year of successfully deploying automation in all sorts of brick and mortar companies, I wanted to share some of the learning I had.
First of all, why automate at all? What is wrong in pen and paper ..
Answer is, nothing. Automation works best when you would like to scale up fast seamlessly and/or if you have external stakeholders to whom you would like to be transparent about processes and workings. Other thing automation does is to bring about culture of building strategies based on hard data.. i.e. make you a more data driven organisation.
Automation is often HARD. Remember that at least 10% of your work-force will leave you once you automate their daily processes. There are many people who do not believe in discipline and would rather work in an organisation which trusts their ‘instincts’ rather than old fashioned hard work. Be forewarned.
Following prescription works for us and our customers to automate their organisations. Hope it helps you too !
Build management willpower
This is a cornerstone of everything. Key decision makers have to be truly convinced about becoming a data driven organisation. If you have naysayers in the top management team, who believe that ‘this will not work in our company’, identify them and first get them on board.
Make things simple
Automation means change of work style. No one likes to change. If you wish people change their style of working the least you can do is build a system which is extremely fast and simple. This way your work force would find it easier to get on board.
When deploying automation, do not keep a backup with legacy / paper-pen system. This creates suspicious/hope in the system that automation is temporary and there is a way back to old system.If you keep crutches, you will see lot more people coming up telling why older system works better than automation.
Expect problems, be patient
Assuming there is technology involved in automation, there will be initial hiccups. Expect them and be patient when they happen. Assuming your partner in automation is a honest and hardworking vendor, these teething issues will go away in no time.
Expect middle management revolt
Middle management is the toughest to get on board with automation. Reason being that automation now provides data to cross check all their ‘claims’. They will be the ones who will try and find all the problems they can for automating their processes. Easiest way to get them on board is
i. Assure that automation is not for policing but for rewarding sincere workers.
ii. Demonstrate how it saves them time & effort over a period of time.
This is key aspect. If you wish to maintain or even enhance the motivation of your work force, you can link automation to incentives. Now that you have the granular data you need, you can surely come up with a data driven performance matrix to incentivize your employees.
In no time you will see everyone jumping on to this new tool you introduced !!