For many the “Why Automate” is taken as a given, the main question becomes “When” should automation be implemented.
Although it is possible to automate in many situations, it is only going to be effective and worthwhile to automate “When”:
- Process being automated is stable
- There is a foreseeable volume of usage of the process into the future
- There is a need to improve the quality of the processing by reducing errors and improving consistency
- There is a desire to improve the speed with which each item is processed
There often needs to be an extra “Catalyst” or “Trigger” to make the “When” become “Now”. The extra factors that change the general desire for automation into a priority can be events such as:
- More work needing to be processed by the same team
- A peak in work that occurs more frequently (Once a year, to monthly or weekly)
- The same quantity of work needing to be completed as the number of team members reduces (staff sickness, maternity, company leavers, staff budget cuts)
- Existing processes being expanded in tasks due to legislation / increased risk
The “Triggers” are necessary as business processes already exist and there is always a tendency to adopt a “Not broken Don’t Fix” approach as well as other demands being higher priority.
The decision on “When to Automate” will require managers who have the vision and determination to make a difference, to improve, to not settle for existing performance, to desire better quality. Automation is low risk compared to many other forms of change, so it does not need managers to be pioneers, just motivated managers who strive for a better future.
If process is a good candidate for automation, the question is not “When to automate” but “Why not automate now?”
If there are benefits from the automation, why would any business not want to start gaining the benefits as soon as possible?
For businesses in the UK Super Cluster area there will also be competitive pressures to adopt automation as other dynamic business will be pressing the "Automate" button.