Effective change management can reduce the delivery risks of implementing Intelligent Automation technologies such as analytics, machine learning and Robotics Process Automation.

Intelligent Automation technologies (including Analytics, Machine Learning, and Robotics Process Automation (RPA)) are currently being implemented with a strong focus on use cases, processes and technology. However, under the pressures of realizing benefits and meeting tight delivery timelines, the ‘people’ aspects are often overlooked when these programs are put in place.

Effective change management can both reduce the delivery risks of automation and increase sustainable benefits.

Automation programmes introduce significant changes to a workforce, even in the immediate short term. Such programmes introduce whole new ways of working, with operations teams working alongside intelligent machines, effecting changes in processes, inputs, customer interactions, escalations and SLAs. Those looking to build an Automation Centre of Excellence will also require capability uplift to move towards internal delivery. There will also be role changes and transitions in the affected teams, which will require careful planning and communication.

Effective change management can both reduce the delivery risks of automation and increase sustainable benefits.

From a tactical standpoint, companies implementing RPA should support such programs with change management initiatives aimed at:

  • Process-oriented training for operations teams so they fully understand the automated processes performed by their machine counterparts, how to handle escalations and interpret automation reports/error logs.
  • Multi-channel technical training for capability uplift of technology resources – including formal classroom training as well as job-shadowing, hackathons, coaching and on-the-job learning.
  • Stakeholder engagement across IT, HR, Risk and impacted business areas, especially when taking a new automation technology into production for the first time.
  • Leader-led communications to effectively convey the automation vision to reduce fear and frustration.
  • Business readiness criteria clearly defined and agreed with business stakeholders to ensure team members and managers are ready for Day 1 production and support models are in place and communicated.

Getting this “people impact” balance right requires close coordination between HR, IT and business units. The speed and rigor of this change management programme from the beginning is also important, so that RPA can be implemented effectively and at scale. Upstream and manual processes will have to change before or during implementation, and so the fact that the design, build and test of processes associated with RPA can take as little as 8 weeks should be kept in mind.

Finally, organisations implementing RPA also need to consider the wider impact upon the workforce. In the second blog of this two-part series I will look at how companies can take an organisation-wide view of the workforce, not only to ensure effective transitions to RPA but also to create a “liquid workforce” that has the technological sophistication, organisational flexibility and mind-set needed to thrive in an environment of rapid change and continuing innovation.

Click here to see the findings from Accenture on the future workforce, based on a study conducted on over 1,200 CEOs and 14,000 workers across 12 industries globally: ‘Reworking the Revolution

Joy Wang, a Manager in Accenture UKI Talent & Organisation — specialising in intelligent automation and the impact on the workforce – contributed to this blog.

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