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Why Automation Needs To Be A Company-Wide Initiative

Why Automation Needs To Be A Company-Wide Initiative

Automation needs to be adopted with a clear, realistic look at your day-to-day operations. The best, most direct source of that insight is from your employees.

When companies begin thinking about introducing automation into their business, it’s easy to mistake it for a technology project.

The IT department may certainly play an important role. To maximize the strategic use of automation, though, many other business functions need to play an important role as well.

Many organizations assume those in departments like sales, marketing, customer service or HR only need to be involved at the end of the project – when the automation technology has been fully deployed. That’s the stage where everyday business processes may change, and those on the front lines need to adapt to the technology’s capabilities.

For maximum impact, though, everyone in the company should be involved in the journey towards automation from the outset.

This has been quantified by market research that found companies that have successfully automated their business are seven times more likely to say they formally communicated across the organization.

Not all of this communication has to happen in person. That may not make sense or even be possible as more companies in Canada and beyond take advantage of hybrid work models.

Instead, the conversation around how your company is using automation can (and should) take many forms. This could include:

  • Creating a post on your company intranet that formally spells out the goals and objectives of using automation.
  • Designating a channel within Slack where employees can ask questions, share concerns or provide updates about the company’s use of automation.
  • Setting aside a certain portion of standing all-hands meetings that happen over videoconferencing to make sure everyone is aware of how the automation effort is progressing.

It might seem like extra work to communicate all the details around an automation project to people in the company who don’t seem to be hands-on with the details. Failing to communicate properly and consistently, however, can create far bigger headaches down the road.

When employees across various departments aren’t on the same page, there can be delays in how quickly automation is fully adopted by the business. There can be critical errors made in how it is used, taking away from the benefits the technology can offer. Sometimes, poor communication can even mean automation projects get pushed back or delayed indefinitely.

If you’re spearheading an automation initiative, make the business case for taking a company-wide approach by using the following principles:

The Use of Automation Should Always Reflect Current Business Priorities and Realities

It might be obvious how automation could speed up a business process or allow employees to focus on higher-value work, but the real value should ladder back to the company’s core mission and most critical objectives.

As more companies contend with higher inflation and other economic headwinds, for instance, reducing costs and improving efficiency is often top of mind for business leaders. That’s why the very top of the org chart, including the CEO, should be considered a part of the automation project team. This doesn’t mean they have to steer the project through every stage, but they should inform the overall strategic direction.

The Use Of Automation Should Enhance The Connection Between Employee And Customer Experiences

You can measure the impact of automation in many ways. Increased revenue is a great one. So is time savings or reduced errors. In the end, though, your return on investment in automation will likely tie into how it helps your customers and employees.

Automation should make it faster and easier for customers to do business with you, whether it’s finding the products and services they need, making a purchase or reaching out with questions and concerns over what they’ve bought.

No matter the size of the company or the industry, employees typically have their fingerprints over all of those aspects of the customer experience. That’s why companies have learned to make sure they also take care to develop a strong employee experience – where team members feel they’re working with the best possible tools to do their jobs.

Automation therefore needs to be adopted with a clear, realistic look at how operations are being handled today. The best, most direct source of that insight is from employees who are managing company tasks. Consult them early and often to build transparency and gain their buy-in.

The Use Of Automation Should Take Into Consideration The Changing Nature Of Work And Skill Sets

Many of us learned the fundamentals of the jobs we do today in post-secondary school, and in some cases that was a long time ago. The longer you work in any field, however, the more the nature of your work is likely to change, which means there’s more to learn.

This speaks to a third key reason automation needs to be a company-wide initiative. Employers and their teams need to not only explore the potential of new technology, but to determine how adopting it might open up new opportunities for training and professional development.

Taking away manual or repetitive tasks, for instance, could allow some employees to analyze and solve more complex business problems that drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. Doing so, however, may require first reskilling or upskilling those employees to change the scope and possibilities of their role.

This doesn’t mean having to take people off the job to spend time in the classroom. A platform like Trailhead is a perfect example of how reskilling and upskilling can happen on demand, from anywhere.

Taking an inclusive and more collaborative approach to harnessing automation will become more obvious the more you invest in the technology. There’s a reason we refer to the employees of a company as a team – when we truly work together, we win together. Automation is just another area where that concept will prove itself out.

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