2019: The Year of Benefit Realisation
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”
2019 will see benefit realisation maturing into the primary objective of automation programs and centres of excellence. Executing against a quantified and prioritised portfolio, organisations will realise genuine value from automation and complementary continuous improvement opportunities.
The Forrester Automation Predictions 2019 cited as a key takeaway that success with automation requires rethinking some fundamentals about how companies operate. “In 2019, we’ll see significant investments in core technologies (particularly RPA); organizational structures like centres of excellence; and the use of frameworks to identify and strategize automation opportunities.”
The conversation has clearly moved on in the last 12 months. Automation technology, particularly RPA, OCR & ICR, is now accepted as robust, scalable and fit for purpose. The question has evolved from can a virtual workforce successfully operate within my organisation? to how will the virtual workforce successfully add value to my organisation?
Identifying and strategizing automation opportunities will represent the critical input into the automation journey for any centre of excellence or automation program in 2019.
Building the case for automation in a quantifiable and standardised way for each opportunity will deliver a book of work, or portfolio, that will yield continuous transformation and immediate incremental benefit opportunities that up until now have been difficult to realise through more traditional, linear transformation programs.
A successful portfolio is built on a strong opportunity assessment, which identifies suitable candidates, supported by quantifiable measures of success and complexity. In quantifying complexity, business benefit and cost, a true picture of benefit can be painted.
Measuring these benefits dynamically and continuously, through the delivery lifecycle, creates the perfect partnership with the Agile delivery methodology and enables the prioritisation of the backlog and ensures the best path in extracting value from opportunities.
Opportunities that do not immediately present themselves as strong candidates for automation can still yield benefit through business improvement activities prior to automation.
Through automation or otherwise, these opportunities contribute to the overall business case supporting the opportunities in the portfolio.
Measuring & Realising Benefit
While establishing an automation portfolio supported by a robust business case is a primary input into the automation delivery program, it is the ability to measure the business performance of the virtual workforce post deployment that represents the primary objective of a successful automation.
post deployment that represents the primary objective of a successful automation.
Realising the benefit from this performance represents the ultimate output providing insights that inform further improvement opportunities, contributing to an evolving prioritised portfolio and continuous transformation.
Every automation opportunity needs to be supported by a benefit driver demonstrating the value that automation will deliver to the organisation. While headcount reduction and capacity increase have until recently dominated the case for automation, other drivers such as scale, compliance, quality, risk reduction and customer experience, are coming sharply into focus as the technologies demonstrate value beyond the more tangible, bottom line benefits. Consider quality assurance or ‘4 eyes’ functions required to mitigate quality issues or reduce organisational risk as one example.
Continuous improvement and transformation is driven forward not only by successfully executed transactions, but equally by exposing opportunities through the interrogation of execution exceptions. If these exceptions can be identified, processes or automations can be tweaked to improve performance. Business insights from automation exceptions represent a massive, and as yet untapped opportunity area for continuous transformation and improvement through automation.
A Mutually Beneficial Partnership
Whether your organisation leverages internal shared service functions, or 3rd parties to deliver automation programs, having a partner that is incentivised to realise success with you will ensure that your automation program is best positioned for success.
Traditional commercial models continue to dominate automation programs of work, such as time & materials and fixed price. The nature of the virtual workforce brings to life another commercial model not widely adopted due to the traditionally subjective nature of measuring success: the benefit share. The benefit share model has not been widely implemented in the past due to the difficulty in quantifying the apparent benefits of an automation.
The up-front cost associated with an automation program can be prohibitive for the customer, so alternatives must be addressed.
The incremental nature of automation deployment, added to the objectively quantifiable performance of automation, presents an opportunity to base commercial outcomes on agreed performance thresholds of your virtual workforce. This benefit share model can be constructed in one of a number of ways including for example transaction volumes, exception volumes, transaction value or FTE effort released by the virtual workforce.
As you engage your partners, and build the prioritised automation portfolio, the drivers and measures of success are to be agreed, with the virtual workforce performance quantified in real time as the agreed measure of success for you and your partner.
The benefit share model extends to automation as a service providers or business process outsourcing providers, who work on the premise that these measures of success incentivises both parties to pick the right opportunities, deliver quality into operations, and to drive ongoing continuous improvement yielding further benefit.