Robotic process automation (RPA) has moved from buzzword to business-critical application in the blink of an eye. In today’s world, the need to automate as much of your business processes as possible is essential as we look to keep everyone safe and let them work securely wherever and whenever they need.
Many organizations worldwide have begun their automation journey but haven’t started to properly scale their digital workforce. Working with public and private organizations across Europe, I’ve consistently found that one of the key elements of automation success is building cross-functional teams from the outset. That includes assigning roles and responsibilities to where they’re best executed and working to ensure engagement at all levels as the program progresses.
That really sounds like software implementation 101, but you’d be surprised how often companies don’t pay enough attention to this vital step. Often the organization will embark on a small pilot to see the benefits of automation but then not fully build out an effective structure as they look to scale their RPA capabilities. Forrester research has found that only 17% of organizations regularly assess the alignment between business units, operations, IT, and their dedicated automation function.
For me, that’s the automation equivalent of missing an open goal because the difference in results between those who have cross-functional collaboration and those who don’t is so stark. McKinsey recently demonstrated companies that coordinate across business functions are almost three times more likely to succeed in their RPA initiatives.
Without a shadow of doubt the most important relationship is the partnership the automation team builds with the IT department. In most instances, when the automation center of excellence (CoE) creates excellent automations, it’s the IT team that provides the operational, management, and maintenance support to ensure the automations can scale across the enterprise.
Here are five great reasons to build collaboration between your automation and IT teams from the very start:
IT is responsible for the underlying technology infrastructure. Often, the IT department will require some training and assistance to fully understand how to prepare and optimize this infrastructure for automation. When IT fully understands how to provide the correct infrastructure for your chosen automation platform, it’s far easier to achieve the levels of performance, scalability, and stability you require.
The result of using the correct infrastructure will be stable and reliable software robots that accelerate business performance. In addition, quality automations build business users’ confidence to engage with and adopt automations both now and in the future. IT teams are skilled in software testing and can help build quality assurance into your automation development process.
Automation and IT teams working in virtual isolation can have a real effect within budgeting and planning where the two elements can be seen as competing for resources. Ideally, the automation team will work with IT on the budgeting and resourcing cycles to improve planning and capacity while reducing potential financial frictions.
Most automations frequently access business critical systems and handling sensitive, corporate data. High security levels are essential. The IT department is usually advanced in identity and access management practices. So, the IT department can help build secure automations that also access systems and processes without compromising security.
RPA may appear simple but, in reality, enterprise automations require more complex coding. Without sacrificing the flexibility and agility of automation development, you should look to implement the code configurability, performance, and testing processes already established within the IT department. Doing so produces high-quality automations that deliver scalability, performance, and availability.
Speaking at the Reboot Work Festival, Paula McKillen, Head of Automation and RPA at Electrocomponents plc, advised: “From day one, partner very closely with your IT and technology teams. You can do a lot of work in your CoE but you will not be able to deploy your robots without the strong partnership from IT colleagues and ultimately making sure that any environment you operate in keeps your bots healthy.”
I’m not sure I could put it any better myself. I’d only add that IT is just one of the partnerships you need to nurture when building a successful and scalable automation program.
UiPath has created a white paper titled "Building Cross-Functional Collaboration for Automation Success" where you can read about building cross-functional collaboration and learn how organizations like McKillen’s have successfully implemented and scaled automation.