Robotic process automation was borne, originally, from a very creative stream of consciousness within IT Departments. Based very much on an open sourced mentality of trying something to see whether it works, and if it doesn’t collaborate to improve, IT Departments were early adopters of the automation that many Chief Operating Officers now see as their responsibility and their baby! So why, now, do IT Departments apply passive aggressive tendencies to any technology that will enable their colleagues, in the rest of the business, to reduce their menial and manual tasks, improving accuracy, efficiency and morale of the majority of their company? And does History of Non-IT innovators working outside of the normal change process teach us anything on how this type of technology should be “managed” by the IT Teams?
“Head in the sand or The Access Syndrome”
Many IT Departments assume that if they say no to a technology then it won’t appear. This is far from the truth. Non-IT innovators have proved themselves to be very adept at getting the right level of influence to get technology deployed that helps a business to innovate, build and deliver benefits to themselves, their marketing departments and especially their customers. Anyone in the IT world long enough will remember how difficult it was to control, migrate and secure the myriad of Microsoft Access Databases that intelligent marketing people grabbed with both hands. Calling these key and crucial databases “non-operational” or non-compliant didn’t make them any less critical to business success
Relying on the chain of command
IT Departments have, increasingly, become suppliers to their business “partners” which has changed the power dynamics from being a creative force for good (business) to being seen as a cost centre or compliance Evangelista. Yes, the business has a long-term vision, and yes, there has been an agreed priority of technology change year in year out, however, being the only department that actually rigidly adheres to this priority list while others evolve and deliver, gives IT a staid and immobile image while frustrating your team of creative and agile technologists
Pull up the drawbridges
Retrenching to the secure borders of IT, information security and IT Infrastructure Management, further reduces the businesses need to engage with IT Departments in a non-abusive way, while also, making your own department more outsourceable. Your red lines will be pushed further back as new suppliers, both engaged and empowered by Non-IT executives, challenge your expertise and deliver services of which you have no control or influence over!
All is not lost!
Robotic process automation gives the IT departments a number of ways to re-invent themselves as true partners to their businesses, as well as a great opportunity to begin to rebuild their influence over technology as subject matter experts rather than gatekeepers;
- Embrace RPA for your own processes – RPA was originally a technology created by technologists to get rid of many of the mundane and manual tasks that their expensively created systems failed to. By engaging RPA technology first, deploying and learning lessons first, you are then able to introduce the rest of your business to this easy to deploy technology as subject matter experts. Imagine the glow and increase in morale when those efficiency savings are gained because of rather than despite the IT Department.
- Use RPA pro-actively in your integration programmes – RPA is particularly useful as a turn on/turn off technology. When a new system migration is mooted, start to use RPA as the technology that acts as an advanced party for operational processes that are low on the priority list for the programme but have a high annoyance factor for operations. You’ll also start to deliver automations as a programme earlier and more successfully, which is likely to give you some brownie points you’ll cash in when the inevitable overruns or de-scoping happens.
- Wrestle back influence from suppliers – by showing yourselves as supportive, having deployed on your own processes and used to mitigate overruns and de-scoping, suddenly, the extra influence you have built can be used to ensure that the suppliers that now respect you, will only deploy compliant and secure solutions and through your scrutiny, protect your business from data breach catastrophes, still your top priority as a technologist!