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  • Digital Evolution Forum

8 ways CEOs can cut the cost of their intelligent automation programme

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

We all know that business automation is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity to stay competitive. The bad news is it can come with big costs. The good news is that some of these costs are unnecessary or at the very least can be reduced. So in this guide, we want to take a look at some of them.

But first, to build a successful intelligent automation program organisations need to clearly articulate what success looks like for them.

Organisations may have different reasons for implementing automation programs. For example, they may want to increase productivity, reduce processing time, improve process compliance, reduce headcount, or drive new incomes.

Ultimately, if an automation program does not deliver benefits over cost, then your business should invest its finite resources in an alternative program.

As Stephen Covey says 'always begin with the end in mind'.

If you can't articulate what success looks like for your business just yet, then wait until you can. However, if you are delivering an automation program, it is key to look after the bottom line to maximise your returns. If businesses don't look after the bottom line then the top line won't look after itself.

Together we’re going to look at 8 ways CEOs can cut the cost of their intelligent automation programme to give themselves a much greater chance of delivering benefits in excess of cost.

If at any point in this article you want to see how you can apply any of the topics discussed in this article, please contact an experienced member of the Digital Evolution Forum team.

Let's start with something that is harder to do than you might think...

1. Don't follow the herd and aim for the top 10 RPA vendors

CEOs, please look for the intelligent automation platform that best suits your business and your budget. The so-called top three platforms may or may not be the right answer for your strategy to digital evolution. In fact, the top 3 providers can be more expensive than many of their competitors' products yet deliver equal or less value for your business.

Take time to pilot multiple tools as not every tool will work with your existing technology. There are a variety of automation flavours on the market. Think forward and don't just pick the platform that will solve your current problems. Automation is a long-term play so take your time and choose the right platform.

2. Use Agile, Scrum, and DevOps methods to deliver your automation programs with value

Digital demands that firms start simple, go fast, break things, learn and iterate at pace to succeed. They need to use methods that support 'digital ways of working’.

DevOps and Agile are two such methods.

DevOps is a practice of bringing development and operations teams together. Whereas Agile is an iterative approach that focuses on collaboration, customer feedback and small rapid releases.

DevOps promotes a fully automated continuous integration and deployment pipeline to enable frequent releases, while Agile and Scrum provide the method to rapidly adapt to the changing requirements and better collaboration between different teams.

Combining both methodologies can help deliver business benefits in waves of value.

3. Seek advice and direction from LinkedIn Automation | Analytics | Digital Transformation Community

There is a broad range of free materials and expertise to be found online. LinkedIn is a great resource to hear from people that are in these projects on a daily basis. Communities that are forming such as the Digital Evolution Forum provide collaborative thinking on projects. Joining Clubhouse rooms to learn from people in real-time. All there to help and largely for free.

Gotten stuck? Not sure which next step to take? Go search or ask an expert in the automation community for help. Doing a few searches on LinkedIn and you will soon be looking at the right people.

But do remember to give back and not simply take, take, take.

4. Begin with the business strategy in mind

Sounds simple? Sounds obvious, right?

The fact is incumbents continue to run digital automation initiatives without tying them to their business strategy. This often leads to multiple fault lines and stress points which break intelligent automation programs (e.g., lack of commitment from the recipient business, lack of cohesion with ancillary departments, inadequate budgets, unreasonable timelines, frustrated stakeholders etc.).

Begin with where you want to get to in mind. Align your organisation's automation program to your business strategy from day one. This may just save your organisation an expensive lesson in how not to automate.

To get a comprehensive view of how you can create a successful business strategy when digitising processes and implementing technology such as intelligent automation, please read '5 steps to your business successful digital evolution'.

5. Focus on reusable code

Automation developers should build reusable code libraries from the start. However, many businesses do not focus on this at the beginning of their intelligent automation journeys. Code reusability should be high on every business’s automation agenda.

This could mean that automating aspects of your business may cost more and take longer to build at the start. However, businesses should expect to see automation velocity increase and build costs decrease, over the longer term. Automation is a long-term strategic play, which is maybe part of the reason it's called intelligent automation.

Therefore, build for the long term, not the short term.

6. Maximise Robot Utilisation

Robots are there to be used 24/7/365. Don't waste this opportunity to have an always-on workforce available to complete work. Ensure your robots are working to their very maximum capacity so that licence costs remain low and productivity remains high.

7. Roll out a low-code platform with citizen developers leading the charge

IT should not be the only source of automation, analytics, and digital transformation value. And don't let your team and business think this. Make sure you harness the intellectual capabilities of your entire business to develop new components that add value to the digital, automation and analytics transformation programs you're implementing.

We highlighted how important it is to automate your businesses' frontline with citizen developers in the guide 'Automating the frontline: How You Can Succeed With A Citizen Developer Programme'.

Try introducing hackathons, assignments or attachments, and an automation COE as these can excel results to shared learning and automation program success. While also allowing your team members to be upskilled and become more talented for your business digital evolution.

Not everyone can be an 'automation or digital ninja' but firms find most people have something of value to contribute when they ask for ideas. Businesses are increasingly stocked with digital talent that simply needs the right technology, guidance and governance to succeed.

8. Move to a consumptive cloud model:

Firms can move their automation platform to a cloud environment such as Azure, AWS or G Suite and enjoy the flexibility and fungibility that comes with cloud hosting. A 'cloud' automation platform can offer firms a cost-effective OpEx model that will scale as a firm's automation program scales.

Cloud-based computing offers firms the ability to spin up new software, or development environments or VDIs in minutes, if not hours at an affordable monthly cost.

How are you going to cut the cost of your intelligent automation programme?

Don't be afraid to save money by not spending it. If your organisation is not ready (e.g. being taken over, siloed culture, broken or fragmented processes, insufficient executive buy-in, insufficient skilled staff, etc.) then don't start doing intelligent automation and digitising your processes just yet.

Whilst there is value to be had from a test and learn approach, there is no value to be had from a crash and burn landing when you know it is the wrong time to begin. Wait. Get your chess pieces into the right places and then strike hard and fast to deliver exceptional automation, analytical and digital success.

At the Digital Evolution Forum, we've helped businesses understand where they can reduce the costs of their intelligent automation program. And we've allowed them to discover the roadmap to doing it consistently to bring long term return on investment.

If you want us to look through with your which ways are currently applicable to you as a business aiming to cut your intelligent automation costs, please contact an experienced member of the Digital Evolution Forum today!

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