Research, research, research.
Over the last 5 to 10 years, organisations have really started to understand that their own research can be vital to the long term success of am automation project.
In fact, it is widely suggested that more than half of the information that is used during the decision making process has been gathered internally, without a reliance on third parties.
Of course, ease of access to information and speed of connectivity have both helped drive this trend forward.
What does this mean for your automation project? It means that you need to educate yourself and your colleagues, and not rely on information from just one company or source.
There are countless suppliers of automation solutions, and a raft of organisations that are set up to be independent experts. But, as with everything, in order to obtain a rounded picture of what could be achieved, you will need to ensure that your information is gathered from as many sources as possible.
Technology is advancing faster now than at any other time in living memory, resulting in new and exciting ways to do things. As a result, the education gained during the research phase of the project will no longer be enough for some organisations.
Larger enterprises, and larger automation projects, will require that the research and understanding of potential solutions is kept up to date throughout the whole project lifecycle.
Remember, reliance on a 3rd party to conduct your research for you means that they are getting all of the advantages of the research and education, all you and your team will see is the end results.
We are not, of course, suggesting you should avoid engaging 3rd parties. Experts and suppliers alike can be a great source of information and knowledge. We would suggest though that you make use of this yourselves.
Finally, on this point, we would suggest that it is worth your time to look at what your peers and competitors are doing. There are numerous documents, surveys and reports that will start to give you these insights.
Detail your “As-Is” and your “To-Be”.
This element of the process could easily have been addressed at an earlier stage. In fact you may question how you can conduct your research without already having completed this step.
However, even if you have created these process diagrams already, now that you have conducted research into technology that is available, you will almost certainly want to re-visit these.
Whilst you will already know your pain points, without understanding what technology is there to assist in addressing these it is very hard to be able to define what your processes should look like at the completion of a project.
Equally, without the input and insight from a multi-disciplined team you are likely to find that there are gaps in your knowledge and understanding of the processes and steps required.
This goes a step further, and should probably include direct input from senior management. For example, if you require sign off of non-PO invoices from C suite management now is the time to establish the why. Is this a necessary step, is this causing unnecessary delays in the processing of invoices? What could be done differently.
In every workflow there is the risk of bottlenecks, these are often unnoticed until they cause an issue. Holidays or unexpected leaves of absence are prime examples. If you are building a “To-Be” process, areas such as these should be addressed and mapped. Often alternatives can be put in place to ensure the smooth running of the process.