From stumbling in the dark to market leader
Metrics is often overlooked or not considered seriously enough throughout the journey to automation.
In a world where technology innovation advances at a pace that often feels like microseconds, it is understandable that professionals are, at times, a bit overwhelmed.
You spend three months on a project only to find what you are releasing into business is already outdated.
How do you ensure this ever-changing, ever-evolving beast does not end up causing the opposite for business processes and outcomes? The answer is 'metrics'.
It often helps to take the 'IT' out of ICT and use 'communication', so to speak. Clearly defined goals and objectives between departments and other stakeholders, in conjunction with the vision of the business, gives something to work towards ? irrespective of the shiny new system making it possible.
When applying this to process automation, it takes a bit of discipline. The conversation in the room tends to lean towards how 'this' system is going to solve someone's problems. When you manage to steer the conversation away from the system and back to the process, you have already gained some ground. After all, automating a broken process just means it will break automatically.
After all, automating a broken process just means it will break automatically.
During the course of this exercise, stakeholders come up with an effective process and through blood, sweat and tears this is extended to a plan for automation that is the stuff of legends.
With all the gaps and 'what ifs' catered for, all stakeholders are kept in the loop throughout and by all estimations you will be able to double the workload without hiring a single new employee.
In all the excitement there is one little thing that is often overlooked or not considered seriously enough throughout the journey to automation, and that is the metrics.
Everything on paper looks amazing, but how will you know it is working after it is in place? How will you be able to present it to an executive six months after go-live with existing trends, and whether you are actually getting the return of investment promised? Kind of a big deal, not so?
Metrics needs to be at the forefront of every decision and not an afterthought. Constantly considering how you would report on something will also affect the flow of the process; therefore, you are saving yourself rework after the fact.
Getting back to the aforementioned communication and clearly defined business goals. If you understand what needs to be achieved and what the vision is, you will be able to identify the right metrics up front ? and supplement those metrics with other useful ones as touch points are identified in the sessions for the process.
Aligning with the business is a crucial step one that is often overlooked, as the executive is not looking for the same metric as the manager, and visa-versa. Will this process enable you to achieve your goals and present the outcomes in various ways to various stakeholders at various levels?
In many cases, once the metrics start rolling in, weak areas are often not as weak as once perceived and the area you thought you had a handle on is actually riddled with challenges.
When planning with metrics, you inadvertently overcome the initial conundrum of keeping up with innovation. Needing the latest and greatest to keep up is brushed aside and the question of whether said innovation will actually meet objectives takes precedence.
Will this product be able to provide the level of detail we have now? Does the price really justify the means when the area this new solution addresses is not really weak? How will metrics from multiple areas affect my visibility?
Would it be possible to answer these questions without speculation if the right metrics and outputs from your processes are not available?
Now let's be clear, it is important to keep up with innovation... but with the aim to adopt that which is meaningful, that your business can actually leverage.
In addition, you are able to make these decisions with metrics at your side, being able to motivate with factual ROI estimates and carefully considered percentages: statistics relevant to your business, and your needs!
This is far better than relying on the clever marketing slide trying to convince you why you need it, grouping you together as a segment, and not considering what makes your offering unique in the market.
In closing, metrics not only makes the process visible to plan against, it can transform a well-designed process into a business driver that offers access to competitive information no one else has.