Build an Automation Center of Excellence

Best practices for strategic, scalable automation

What is an Automation Center of Excellence?

Today’s businesses need to be fast-paced, agile, and efficient, and that means automation is no longer optional. In recent years, robotic process automation (RPA) has become increasingly popular due to its flexibility and ease of use. But deploying RPA software without an underlying strategy leads to disappointing results.

An automation center of excellence framework includes the people, processes, and technology necessary to maximize the benefits of automation. It effectively uses robotic process automation technology, but also moves your organization beyond RPA and ensures that you are employing automation best practices. A center of excellence is crucial to finding new automation opportunities, scaling your automation within the organization, and carrying out a long-term vision.

Automation Center of Excellence Framework

Automation Center of Excellence Framework

People and Processes

You may be transitioning to a digital workforce, but your human team is still the key to a successful transformation. To build the framework for a successful center of excellence, put the right people together with the right processes.

The core team

The ideal core team for your automation project has a range of skill sets. Business analysts document processes and assess the impact of automation. You also need someone to build the automation. Depending on the requirements of the workflow, this person could be a business user or an experienced developer. Finally, get members of the operations team on board to test and monitor the automation.

Prioritization and approach tools

Use a weighted matrix like a C&E to prioritize your automation opportunities based on business objectives. Have processes and automation best practices in place to decide the best approach for each workflow. In some cases, you will automate each step as-is using RPA, while in others you will want to optimize the process and use more backend automation.

Evangelists and functional teams

To get the most out of your automation software, automation has to spread across the organization. Evangelists are members of key stakeholder groups who advocate for the benefits of automation. As your automation scales, make sure you’re getting input from members of each relevant functional team as well.

Steering committee 

Getting executive sponsorship and visibility is key. The steering committee will help your automation project obtain the resources it needs. Meetings of committee can review recent case studies and prioritize upcoming projects.

Our automation center of excellence allowed us to fully realize the benefits of automation. Our COE has enabled an organization-wide innovation strategy while developing the necessary automation knowledge and capabilities. We are changing the way we do business.

VP of Operations
a National Healthcare Organization

Systems and Infrastructure

Your center of excellence is only as good as its technological foundation. Making good choices about systems and infrastructure sets the stage for rapid growth and prevents issues down the road.

Infrastructure

Enterprise-class automation requires enterprise-class architecture. This includes features like high availability and disaster recovery, auditing capabilities, and role-based security. Follow the same DevOps best practices for your automation as you would for your other critical systems to create the strongest COE framework possible.

Best practices and templates

Create documentation on best practices for creating automation. Many processes will have reusable elements, so don’t waste time reinventing the steps for each workflow. Ensure your automated processes are constructed for consistency, efficiency, accuracy, and auditability. 

Training and NOC enabling

Anyone responsible for automation operations should have the skills to manage and maintain automated workflows. Adequate training ensures that the operations team won’t be repeatedly escalating issues back to development. It’s also important for operations to have dashboards for visibility into the organization’s automation.  

Measuring ROI

There are many ways to measure the value of your solution. Some are tangible metrics while others might come in the form of reports from functional teams to the steering committee. Choose how you want to evaluate the impact of your automation implementation for your organization. This can be used to substantiate ongoing funding.

The HelpSystems robotic process automation resource hub includes guides, articles, case studies and more. Whether you are just getting started with RPA or hoping to learn about automation best practices for your center of excellence, you can find the information you need here.