When implementing RPA, be sure to include People and Change Management and ITSM as part of the discussion as you venture down the automation highway.
For those of us of a certain age, we grew up watching the Brady Bunch, and I am sure, if you are like me, you had your favorite Brady. For me, it was Peter. I could relate to him and all of the changes he went through during the run of the show.
One of those memorable times is when his voice began to change, and Greg wrote a song specifically for him where he sang, “When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange.” And, as they say, the rest is history.
So, at this point, I am sure you are asking yourself, “what does the Brady Bunch and change have to do with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?” Let me explain.
Using RPA in Change Management
Before stepping into RPA, I spent 10 years in the IT Service Management (ITSM) space, helping organizations improve their service management processes. One of the processes always under consideration was change management. Move ahead several years, and I continue to hear about change management, but this time in the RPA space.
Having spent many years supporting both ITSM and RPA, whenever I hear the phrase “change management,” I have to ask the person if they mean IT change management, an ITSM discipline, or People and Change Management, sometimes referred to as Organizational Change Management (OCM)— a discipline that needs to be part of your RPA program. Knowing what they mean, even without any content, I can then take them down the right discussion path.
So, back to my previous query, “What does this have to do with RPA?” Organizations often overlook ITSM and People and Change Management as part of an RPA implementation program. Most organizations focus so intently on reviewing processes for automation and then developing the bots, they overlook how this will impact their employees and morale and long-term, and how to maintain and support their automation environment effectively. This misstep can lead to an RPA implementation that fails and does not realize the full benefits the company set out to achieve.
RPA and People and Change Management
When allowed to consult with organizations across a variety of industries about RPA, the question we invariably get from staff members who execute the processes is: “Am I going to lose my job?” The good news is almost all of the organizations we have worked with reallocated the staff to more value-add work versus eliminating their jobs.
The reason this question comes up more often than not— an organization decides to bring RPA in-house before engaging our practice, and they do not adequately vet the impacts of their actions on those whom they may directly impact. People and Change Management is an area we bring up during our initial discussions with a prospective RPA customer as an effective RPA program must include this aspect as well.
Some steps to help move a successful People and Change Management program forward include, but are not limited to:
- Conduct a stakeholder assessment to identify key needs
- Ensure leadership buy-in and alignment to the initiative
- Utilize engagement methods that will work best for your organization and the current culture
- Enlist RPA Champions/Evangelizers to help bring about the necessary change
- Plan an internal marketing campaign
- Be prepared to have those difficult conversions, when applicable
- Ensure on-going communication during and most importantly, after, the move to an automation platform
- Look for ways to utilize human resources better, allowing for opportunities to learn different aspects of the business.
Part of the program needs to be an effective communication strategy and process, similar to what I outline below. This step should be modified to meet the needs of your organization, but the following should be a good foundation that you can build upon.
The test of a successful People and Change Management effort is the ability to accomplish the desired shift in culture while at the same time, creating the organizational capability to undertake subsequent change efforts faster and more effectively.
IT Service Management
Most companies have some form of IT Service Management within their organization. Some ITSM keep very detailed disciplines while others are very lean, but both can work, depending upon the type of business you manage. Incident Management, IT Change Management, and Knowledge Management are a few of the critical areas of a good ITSM implementation.
Since many organizations initiate and manage RPA programs by a non-IT group (I don’t recommend this, and will explain more on that topic in a future post), the concept of ITSM does not come into the discussion. The goal is to get bots developed and working without any insight into how to effectively manage the deployment and subsequent support of those bots in a production environment.
As bots become a part of your organization’s production environment, you need to manage these similarly to other application and infrastructure items in the environment. They need to be a part of the broader support landscape.
Key items to address when deploying and managing production bots include, but are not limited to:
- Integration – Merging current tools with existing Service Management tools, such as ServiceNow or HP Service Manager.
- Incident Management – How will you manage production issues with the bots? How will users report problems of the bot not doing what they expect it to do?
- IT Change Management – Will changes go through a Change Advisory Board (CAB) as part of the larger enterprise or managed separately?
- IT Knowledge Management – Do you need to prepare documents for the Knowledge Repository for each bot created?
- Service Level Agreements – Are there SLAs in place for bot Incident Management? Are they different than SLAs for other applications and technologies?
- Disaster Recovery and Capacity Planning – What is Plan B if bots cannot run due to environment and infrastructure issues? Is there a plan in place to promote Continuous Process Improvement of the efficiency and efficacy of the bot?
- Application Management – Is there a plan in place to ensure application teams understand if bots access their applications and the impact of application changes?
Are You Ready to Change?
RPA is changing the way organizations perform their daily activities. Software bots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other automation disciplines help to streamline organizations, bringing improved employee and customer satisfaction. But do not overlook the areas that can lead to a poorly defined and executed RPA program. People and Change Management and ITSM need to be a part of the discussion as you venture down the automation highway.
Just as Peter needed help from Greg to get through his “change,” you too may need some assistance as you move your organization to be more automation-centered.
Bob Dylan so aptly put it when he said, “Oh the times, they are a changin'” Are you?