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Centralize or Distribute - How to manage intelligent automation at scale

12 November 2019 |

Centralize or Distribute - How to manage intelligent automation at scale

Every automation lead has a challenge on their hands. Do you centralize or distribute ownership of intelligent automation? This is a dilemma which will last the lifecycle of all deployments and one that isn’t easily overcome, particularly as you start planning how to scale your automation operation. As with most things it is the hues of grey rather than being black and white that are the key to success here.

In partnership with research consultancy Teknowlogy, Thoughtonomy conducted a telephone survey of automation leaders to gather information on how they are managing their automation deployments.  

If we look behind the data from the report – Taking Automation to the Next Level – it reveals what automation leaders think about their model of management, from early initiatives all the way to scaling across the business.

Centralized automation management

Just 24% of companies have created a dedicated Centre of Excellence (CoE). It is perhaps surprising that so few have created a dedicated team within their business. Especially if you take into account that 48% of people believed that putting the right governance structure in place was a key success factor in their early initiatives.

However, even though just under a quarter created a CoE, the organizations that have moved to deploy a CoE as a centralized way of automating have seen significant success. One financial services business stated that their CoE helped ‘establish the rules of the game’ and that it contributed to the business achieving its goals. Another financial services organization added to this, believing that it was key to try and achieve a balance between enabling staff members to accelerate their automation use, whilst ensuring it was done in a controlled manner. A note worth underscoring on this is that there may be risks with placing a CoE within the IT function, as did 83% of companies in the report, if the resource isn’t available to push automation projects forward.

It’s evident that the centralized CoE model has two sides to it. It has the ability to pollinate guidance, expertise and direction across the organization. But in the wrong hands it can also become a hindrance to scale in comparison to distributed, or federated models.

Distributed automation management

The distributed approach can mean one of two things. Either the creation of federated automation teams throughout your company, or teams across your business each approaching automation in isolation. Here, we are considering the former.

As organizations have started to scale the question is, does the distributed model provide a better approach for how to govern automation? 12% of automation strategy leaders state they believe expanding their CoE will be the best way to accelerate the adoption of automation, whereas 79% favor expanding distributed teams and the remaining 9% plan to do both. This demonstrates the hues of grey in the ways in which organizations are approaching automation governance. The distributed model gives companies availability of automation resource and the ability to spread automation fast within departments. But much of this is based on the size of the organization and whether having a distributed model makes sense with centralized guidance.

In our experience, we see that every organization is different in their approach. Often they are even unique. For instance one of our smaller utility customers has a CoE and will probably never move towards a federated model.They are however taking a unique approach, providing teams with training so they can work on making small automations for their own department. This interesting approach is one of many, but suggests that the CoE and centralized model isn’t obsolete but is evolving with the needs of a scaled operation.

Download the full report to learn how companies such as HSBC, EDF, Rolls Royce and Unilever have approached their RPA programs and how they are planning to scale them for the future.

If you're interested in how to set up a successful Center of Excellence for your organization, Darren Atkins from ESNEFT posts about it in his blog, somethingincredible.co.uk


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