Intelligent Automation (IA) provides many benefits to a company; its ultimate purpose is to free employees from mundane, repetitive tasks and allow them to concentrate on more important work. However, it is not enough to automate the company’s business operations and call that a day. It would be best if you had scalable, internal RPA and IA expertise to achieve digital transformation. A centre of excellence (or COE) is one way to do this.
Let’s look at the role of a COE and how it can enable scalable IA.
What’s a Center of Excellence?
A centre of excellence is an internal entity that provides expertise, leadership, and best practices in a particular area. CEOs have many focus areas, ranging from business concepts and technology to specific skills. An internal COE can be a crucial launching point for large-scale development and support of Intelligent Automation (IA) and robotic process automation (RPA).
Center of Excellence Models
One option is to have a centre of excellence where automation expertise is concentrated at a single point within the organization. Or, you can have a federated where different business units can build their CEOs from the central COE. This latter option can be useful for complex organizations with many business units.
There are four types of COE:
- Automation Center of Expertise. This COE model is focused on training and enabling automation development and implementation teams. Other goals include advancing and promoting RPA/IA best practices and building automation skills across all teams.
- Automation Centre of Excellence. This COE model is focused on best practices, methodology, and integration with other re-engineering projects.
- Automation Factory. Automation Factory provides quick and efficient results in automation and often deals with process-level automation.
- Automation Community. Unlike other centres of excellence, this model is structured as a community that shares information, expertise, and best practices across all business lines. This model focuses on tactical and departmental projects.
Consider the size of your company, your ultimate goal and the automation tools used when choosing a COE model.
Role of the Automation Center of Excellence
A COE is responsible for implementing Intelligent Automation. It consists of three important actions: Strategize, Manage, and Operate.
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
An automation COE must present the company-wide strategy and vision for Intelligent Automation and digital transformation. The organization’s central pillar for digital transformation is automation, so it must have a clear vision. We found that organizations are most likely to fail to scale up their automation programs due to a lack of vision and strategy.
The Intelligent Automation centre must provide effective governance for the entire automation effort within the company. This includes defining the strategy owner and aligning sponsorship and funding. This includes tracking and measuring progress against the established strategy and presenting the results internally and externally to shareholders.
Automation delivery is another critical role of a centre for excellence. This requires the ability to build a team and manage external and internal talent.
The automation centre of excellence is crucial in identifying use cases in the company. Once the company has achieved digital transformation, there will be plenty of automation opportunities. The role of the COE changes from being a generator of ideas to prioritizing these opportunities.
An automation COE also has a role in change management. To reap the benefits of digital transformation, companies must plan how to handle the changes brought about by automation. Unfortunately, companies often cite ineffective change management as another reason automation implementation fails.
How to create a Center of Excellence
It is not easy to build an automation centre of excellence. This requires determination. Each company will have its own COE model, but there are some best practices that you can follow to avoid common pitfalls.
It takes time to train and assemble an automation team
Automation implementation is only possible if the team is well-organized. It is important to plan training team members based on their roles in the project. In addition, it is important to identify the stakeholders who will be able to help you with scaling RPA or IA within your organization.
From the beginning, collaborating with IT
The IT team directly manages every automation project in an organization. Therefore, it is important to coordinate with them from the beginning. The centre of excellence should work with the team to improve infrastructure, security, compliance, or other IT functions. Some COEs establish a special IT liaison position to work directly with the IT team to coordinate automation implementation.
Set up a governance framework
The COE will face challenges as automation is implemented in the organization. These include departmental collaboration and coordination. These challenges can be addressed by establishing a governance framework to govern the interaction between departments and their participation in automation initiatives.
The COE governance framework must also oversee the development, documentation, and implementation of automation best practices. It should also report on results and any required changes.
Plan for scaling and change management
Before you start scaling the automation initiative within your organization, think about the challenges you’ll face and the solutions you can find. Then, to get their feedback, talk to your employees about automation. Many of our customers had found that the actual challenges they face in real life are quite different to what they anticipated when they began their automation journey.
This is also true for change management. The COE must envision how employees’ work will change, and KPIs will change following the transfer of their tasks to robots. This will help drive operational planning and organizational redesign to adapt to these changes.