How-To view your Automation OPPORTUNITIES in 3D …across your entire business or team

If you are dreaming of your Automation team moving from delivering small automations to find big transformational processes to automate, or if your backlog of automation projects is drying up then this article is exactly for you!

You’re not alone, a lot of teams are out their struggling to find automation opportunities, unsure where to look, spending a lot of time looking in the wrong place, wondering if there are any opportunities left. If you’re like most businesses struggling to scale up their automation program, then there are 100s of potential automation opportunities waiting to be discovered by your team.

Today you will learn about the most powerful tool that automation experts use to find the best opportunities that are both easiest and fastest to build. This tool will also help your Automation team avoid the most common mistakes that stall automation program. You’ll ensure you don’t choose processes automation suitable or are so big and complex that they never get finished, causing stakeholders finally lose interest.

 I’ll also show you how to prioritize projects in a way which makes it easier to roll out smoothly with minimal hiccups and can massively boost your momentum. I do cover this in my blue book of secrets “Business @ the speed of Bots” (which has been highly recommended by one of the top executives at UiPath, probably the largest automation software company), but let’s get you started so you can start using this tomorrow


How do you Prioritize opportunities?

I have a question, what metrics do you use to prioritise automation opportunities? I’ve worked with a few new automation teams that use a process’s time saved to prioritise which process to automation. It makes sense to spend time on the projects which will make the largest savings, right? However, this doesn’t look at the big picture and can miss some vital points that can trip them up later down the line.

I want you and your team to take these two steps further. We are going to use three dimensions to find the highest value opportunities, where we look at comparing Time Saved (effectively direct financial benefit), to the Ease of development and implementation, and the Intangible Benefits (which may have an indirect financial benefit). In fact, many teams seem to forget to consider intangible benefits in their cost-benefit analysis. These are things like reducing human error, improving compliance, or generating revenue in new ways.

When you use look at Time Savings, you miss how difficult a process is, it could save a lot but requires expensive AI technologies which could generate a net-loss because the solution is too expensive to run. On the other hand, you may discard a process because it doesn’t save significant time but the reduction in human error could have a massive positive impact on the business.


What is an Automation Opportunities Map?

A bubble chart of your businesses opportunities is a powerful visual which paints a clear picture to your senior leadership team where all the potential savings are hiding. The three dimensions of the map is the x-axis (the ease of implementation), the y-axis (the intangible benefits), and the size of the bubble (the financial benefit from time saved). This diagram has four quadrants for the types of opportunities that exist in your business:

The big quick wins (top right):

These are your high value projects; they would save a lot of intangible benefits and would be very easy of implementation. Typically, they also save significant time for staff too

Quick wins:

They will deliver a slightly smaller benefits but they’re still very quick and easy to implement. These can commonly be even easier to implement that the Big Quick wins, because they are more straight forward processes, and so are easier to support as well.

Long terms:

They have large financial and intangible benefits; however they are a lot more complex so will take a longer time to implement, and probably shouldn’t be at the top of your priority list.

Must Dos:

These are low benefit, high complexity but as they are suitable and potentially, they are automation-suitable processes that are necessary for your company to operation effectively (e.g., legal or compliance processes), you eventually must do them.


The great thing about this map, is that you can select the department or team you want to focus on and can zoom in to see all the process opportunities in that team.


How do you create your Enterprise Automation Roadmap?

You opportunities map is useful aid for senior leadership to prioritise which departments and teams, and the processes within them, that they want to automate first. You can design the road map to progress in a logical manner, starting with easier, high value-high return projects so that momentum can be built steadiness so you can scale successfully.

As your roadmap dictates that move to more complex processes, these projects will move you from using purely Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools, to incorporating a variety of AI capabilities, like Chat bots, Machine learning, Optical character recognition (OCR) software.

The roadmap is another great visual to show how much savings will be delivered from various projects and when the senior leadership team can expect to see this manifest. With the Opportunities Map and Roadmap, you will be able to clearly show business leaders exactly how projects will help move the dial on achieving their corporate objectives (e.g., doing projects A, B and C will improving staff morale, automating projects A, D, E and F will reduce errors by 30%).


1D – Measure the Effort (Total time that can be saved)

Firstly you want your team to measure how much staff effort each process takes each month. Simply calculate the time each process takes multiplied by the volume of work that process has.

E.g. (2mins per case) x (200 cases a month) = 400 minutes of potential savings

This will give you an indication of roughly how much potential time can be saved when that process is automated. Of course the process may not be automated end-to-end, so you may want to estimate the Automation percentage of each process. As you learn more about the details of the process, you will be able to calculate a more accurate Automation %.

As a side not, most likely time savings may not actually reach the bottom line as financial savings because in most cases time saved for staff is deployed so that staff can focus on more value-adding tasks. Or it saves on hiring cost as existing staff can be more productive.


2D – Measure Process Complexity (Ease of implementation)

Measuring complexity is a vital part of finding opportunities. Once you found processes which take up a lot of time, you need to confirm they are automation suitable. Then you want to understand how easy a process will be to build and then to implement due to many other factors. This will give you visibility of the costs of creating these solutions.

Cost of development, costs of support of maintenance and the cost of the technologies requires for these solutions. If a process is complex to build, that it will most likely be complex to support. The more complex a process, the high these costs.

In addition to development complexity is team readiness. If the process experts are unavailable or the applications are undergoing changes then this will add to how difficult the project will be to implement.


3D – Measure Intangible Benefits

By definition, intangible benefits can be hard to quantify but they’re not impossible. Some of these benefits can indirectly attribute to financial savings for example removing errors is an intangible benefit, but there’s also a cost to the error itself and there’s a cost to time taken to fix the mistake. Even when it comes to becoming compliance, the financial savings is the cost avoidance of not paying fines.

Look at the projects you are and will be delivering, what intangible benefits are you saving that you have not accounted for? You could be selling your automation team short


Automation Analyser for individuals and teams


You can build an Opportunities map in excel, however if you have a team of several analysts gathering data from different business areas, you can use Lean IA’s Automation Analyser to compile all the data centrally, auto-analyse all processes to identify automation suitable opportunities. This immediately creates a Pareto chart to show you where most of the staff’s effort is going. You can also see a bubble chart at a department level and can zoom in to see opportunities at the process level.

With these visual aids produced from data your team can gathered centrally with a click of a button your team have all the insights they need to plan how best to roll-out automation company wide. Essentially you will be able to provide leadership team will a slot machine with different levers to achieve whichever objectives they have, and it will spit out the list of projects that are needed

If you want to learn more about lean Intelligent Automation in your office, subscribe to my YouTube channel Tony IA (Intelligent Automation, Simplified) for videos created weekly, to simplify intelligent automation for business leaders and professionals who are new to automation to level-up your knowledge. Become empowered on how you optimise your business and discover new technologies, in a lean and accelerate way. You can also learn more from my book, Business @ the Speed of Bots: The AEIO YOU method HOW TO IMPLEMENT ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION THAT SCALES. Get ready for the new digital transformation age for more information. The foreword is written by Guy Kirkwood, who is the Chief Evangelist at UiPath, and a very well-known advocate of RPA with over 20 years of experience in outsourcing.

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