Enterprise Automation: Essential 7-Step Guide to Digital Maturity

Igor Paniuk
Volodymyr Horovyi
Alina Ampilogova

The evolution of business processes and workflows has never been more rapid. Propelled by the increased need for flexibility and hybrid workplace support, digital transformation has introduced a set of new competitive advantages to enterprises. As GenAI is expected to enable automation for nearly 70% of business activities and deliver trillions to the global economy, mastering such innovations became the determining factor of success for organizations wishing to be a part of the new economy. 

Achieving this means diving deeper into enterprise automation and ensuring its smooth and efficient implementation. However, it's a complex process that is always tailored to the specifics of a particular enterprise. To give leaders and executives a greater perspective, we prepared this detailed guide outlining the most essential enterprise automation strategy steps.

Why focus on enterprise automation?

Despite enterprise workflow automation being a popular subject of discussion in the business world, the adoption of automation across enterprises is not as widespread as it initially seems. According to the 2023 Forrester report, while nearly 71% of organizations acknowledged end-to-end automation, only 8% of business leaders provided process automation onboarding for their employees, which implies that process optimization strategies are still vague and lack clarity. 

While the emergence of AI has accelerated the adoption rate, with nearly 42% of enterprises admitting to implementing AI technology for their business, almost 40% of organizations exploring AI still haven't gotten past their experimentation phase. In addition, only 30% of enterprises determined to adopt automation for their business reported being 50% done with their process transformation.

The reasons for such a slow pace vary, from data complexity to ethical concerns, but for potential enterprise automation adopters and companies on the way to automation maturity, there is a window of opportunity.

As competitors express caution or keep shaping their vision regarding enterprise process automation, there is a leverage to be harnessed:

  • Reduced operational costs
    Since enterprise automation is focused on reducing the number of redundant steps and accelerating time-consuming tasks, it allows for the optimization of expenses and allocates more resources to accommodating employees when they engage in value-focused activities. Such an improvement has a positive effect on the CapEx and OpEx ratios.

  • Realization of employee potential
    Contrary to a common yet false assumption, the purpose of enterprise process automation lies in assisting employees operating across the organization instead of replacing them.
The idea that every enterprise process can be automated is a myth. Many complicated activities and tasks depend on human skills, creativity, and the ability to make complex decisions tailored to a particular context. Therefore, it can't be entrusted to RPA or GenAI. 

The goal of enterprise automation is to support human creativity and agility by taking care of time-consuming tasks that are low in value and can be easily replicated. As a result, companies can enable employees to deliver better results while optimizing their work time, preventing burnout, and streamlining their working routines.

The human element will remain the defining force behind the enterprise's growth, resilience, and stability. The advance of enterprise automation is meant to provide human experts with a platform for evolving their skills more conveniently and with greater agility.

  • Enhanced quality
    The probability of human error was the most frustrating aspect of manually handling repetitive tasks. Since such errors usually occur due to the sheer volume of routine tasks and employees trying to stay focused on more relevant activities, enterprise robotic process automation is the right response to the challenge.  Being rule-based, it is capable of covering process execution without mistakes and delivering consistent, high-quality results without the need for double-checking or extra control.

  • Meeting customer expectations
    Enterprise automation is now also part of evolving customer expectations. Getting used to the mobility and process acceleration that can be achieved through tech innovation, customers expect the same quality of service from every organization they interact with. To business leaders, these expectations mean demand for faster response time and query processing and increased transparency across all levels of customer interactions. Whether it's handling the bulk of queries with conversational AI or ensuring that qualified experts are available to address customer needs personally, enterprise process automation is detrimental to preserving high levels of customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, an automated enterprise isn't the one where robots and AI oversee all processes. It's an enterprise where employers successfully achieve new productivity levels and gain options to manage their time with greater flexibility as the majority of the tasks and steps that used to chip away at their working hours are now taken care of. 

An automated enterprise has greater resilience and more opportunities for discovering new revenue streams, adopting innovations, quickly making the most of them, and scaling them across departments.

How to build an enterprise automation strategy?

The main goal of enterprise automation strategy goes beyond simply outlining the works and steps of enterprise workflow automation. It requires understanding the impact that is expected to be delivered and the competitive advantage that the change should deliver.

Planning a scope of process optimization works for two years isn't a strategy. It's simply planning. An enterprise automation strategy goes beyond moving from point A to point B—it ensures that reaching point B brings the company into a stronger position with more opportunities. This entails evaluating your progress as you go. 

To build an actionable strategy, decision-makers need to understand the value they expect to receive in six months, a year, two years, and what they should do to get there.

Realizing the value and impact is a flexible and dynamic process often adjusted with every iteration made. Due to this, executives also need to equip a proactive and value-oriented mindset as they start shaping their enterprise process automation vision.

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1) Identify zone of impact

Getting started with enterprise automation is often the most complicated part—largely because stakeholders and decision-makers need to map out the areas for improvement, which can be challenging if they don't know what to look for. Nevertheless, like with any digital transformation direction, some patterns can expose the department's need for optimization.

  • Increased amount of excessive operational tasks
    One of the telltale signs of an enterprise requiring process automation is the growing volume of non-complicated yet time-consuming tasks across departments. The prevalence of excessive tasks suggests there are redundant steps that could potentially be removed, liberating employees' working hours for more impactful activities.
The range of such tasks is quite wide, depending on the department. It can be data entry, validation, or reconciliation.  

Identifying excessive operational tasks requires exploration and communication. For instance, a COO needs to gather feedback from the relevant department, surveying employees on what they believe could be improved, what takes most of their time, and what tasks they would rather focus on (if freed from repetitive processes). Their insights, complete with the report on total time spent on various relevant activities, can provide executives with the necessary perspective and reveal the value of optimizing certain department workflows.

Process mining is particularly helpful for this task because it reveals many insights managers can overlook, such as state and variations of the process as well as the areas that can be automated.

  • Time spent on analytical work
    Departments involved in analysis have the potential to be the most rewarding automation candidates. However, to determine this, executives need to be aware of the steps and hours taken by the analytical work and the sheer volumes of data to be analyzed. The larger the enterprise is, the more information its departments have to process and the more time they invest in it. 

    In some cases, departments try to streamline that flow through third-party means and tools—which is a clear sign they could greatly benefit from custom enterprise automation solutions.
We had a case where our client's Customers Operations department faced challenges due to the growing volume of news insights they had to manually read, sort and analyze. As a result, they engaged with a third-party to buy pre-sorted data from them. While it helped them with their work, it also meant that this third-party company was profiting from doing the analytical work for the enterprise. 

But now we live in a new reality where massive tasks like reading and scanning data can be efficiently handled by leveraging LLM—optimizing department performance and minimizing expenses.

It’s worth noting that discovering the need for enterprise process automation is merely the beginning of identifying potential automation candidates. 

While such an approach gives executives a clear understanding of the value they can glean from process optimization, further analysis benefits from enriching it with the perspective and expertise of vetted automation experts.

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2) Localize zone of impact

The next step after identifying the zone that can potentially be impacted by enterprise process automation is to bridge ideation with reality. Contrary to common belief, successful enterprise workflow automation doesn't necessitate optimizing the entire workflow at once because that would be a massive amount of work and investment. 

Therefore, for decision-makers and adopters, it's crucial to visualize the scope of their work throughout two years and distribute their effort accordingly.

  •  Establish automation candidates and their scale
    Whether it's a number of large enterprise processes or several massive tasks, business leaders need to have a list of potential candidates prepared, complete with all the hidden parameters (such as repetitiveness, frequency, load, etc.). Knowing the latter is crucial to build a realistic and productive strategy as it paints a clearer picture of the entire scope.

  • Consider iterative approach
    Since it's unnecessary to automate an entire process, executives must determine what part of the process can be automated to deliver tangible results that provide realistic value expectations.
Sometimes, automating only 15% of the target process can yield an extremely high ROI, while automating the remaining 85% may not add significant value. Therefore, even after identifying the perfect automation candidate, decision-makers should focus on automating the parts that would benefit the most.

Automating an enterprise process in parts (iterations) is an extremely useful and essential practice in the context of a long-term enterprise automation strategy. It enables the delivery of immediate value to the department and gathers insightful feedback from the stakeholders, which will lie at the core of the next iteration. As a result, it allows to minimize friction and resistance while collecting relevant and important information from end users.   

  • Evaluate ROI
    When calculating the potential return on investment (ROI), some decision-makers make the mistake of focusing on the profit they will get right after implementing the first iteration, overlooking the potential income that can be generated over the entire estimated period. Thus, they may end up having unrealistic expectations based on insufficient insights.
Chasing numbers has never done adopters any good. Depending on the calculation model, the optimal investment horizon for enterprise automation should be around 2 or 3 years, considering both cost of ownership and creation. With such an approach, investors have better control over their investments and expenses, facilitating their decision-making and bringing more certainty to their next steps.  
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3) Communicate with stakeholders

Enterprise process automation always involves communication with stakeholders, i.e., representatives of departments who have specific needs, concerns, and expectations regarding the upcoming transformation—as well as the timelines within which they anticipate results. 

It’s not uncommon for decision-makers and enterprise workflow automation teams to engage with over 15 stakeholders at the same time to ensure seamless cross-department communication. After all, even if the change is implemented for just one or two departments, it’s crucial to keep stakeholders in the loop regarding how process optimization is going to impact the enterprise.

To ensure that these stakeholders become the greatest supporters of enterprise process automation and assist with minimizing adoption resistance, decision-makers need to keep them engaged in every step, aware of the value they're receiving right now, and invested in the potential advantages they can gain from transformation.

As a rule, stakeholders get involved in the discovery session, providing feedback about their department's performance and task complexity. Doing so allows us to create a transparent vision for all departments that will be affected by the transformation, preventing potential friction.

As part of communication with stakeholders, decision-makers need to take care of service support for the departments involved in enterprise automation. This is usually achieved through service agreements guaranteeing that stakeholders will be provided with all the necessary assistance with workflow automation software installed for their departments. Discussing duties and responsibilities prior to transformation allows decision-makers to prevent potential bumps across the implementation road.

4) Plan out the infrastructure

Enterprise workflow automation must be done with scalability and agility in mind, which means that everything executed on the company level should represent that priority. 

Choosing a deployment system

Selecting a tool for fast and efficient deployment of enterprise automation software, focusing on enabling continuous deployment and handling large-scale deployments.

Optimizing environment performance

Outlining the number of environments that can be integrated into the system, determining their support, and how they can be upscaled during busy seasons and downscaled during slow periods.

Choosing teams

Determining experts who will oversee enterprise automation and infrastructure building (in-house teams, vendors, or digital partner teams).

Choosing platform approach

Choosing between a platform-agnostic approach or a platform-independent approach.

Concerning the choice of platform approach, business leaders going for platform-agnostic enterprise automation need to keep vendor dependency in mind. If they're going to work with only one vendor, they may experience issues when scaling (facing time, budget, and execution issues), which may require them to interact with multiple vendors to diversify their tech stack and increase their agility potential.

5) Address security matters

Enterprise automation must be safe for everyone. Therefore, it requires a clear outline of how sensitive data (PII, PIA) will be processed within the new framework and how it will be deleted or saved. 

Also, decision-makers and enterprise automation teams need to understand where such data will be stored and know the security policies and principles of interactions between different enterprise environments. There are such factors to consider as multi-factor identification and service account permissions

6) Cooperate with enterprise automation team

Collaboration with automation professionals starts from the moment of mapping out the strategy, so this step permeates the entire enterprise automation strategy. 

It's vital to have a clear vision of the cadence between executives and the teams in charge of implementing automation, as it allows them to allocate responsibilities and stay acutely aware of each other's tasks and duties.

From the perspective of decision-makers interacting with intelligent automation partner teams, enterprise workflow automation is a matter of finding the right team and bringing it the right goals. 

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Due to this, development and implementation of enterprise automation solutions looks relatively easy to follow:

1) Discovery

Decision-makers realize the necessity for process optimizations and reach out to professionals who can turn their idea into custom enterprise automation software. 

2) Validation

The automation team goes through a discovery session with the decision-maker and involves stakeholders to validate the effectiveness of the presumed solution, analyzing its ability to cover the pain points and improvement areas identified by the decision-maker.

Our clients usually come to us with a ready concept of presumed enterprise automation software. However, before we can proceed with these concepts, we need to validate them. We do so within a discovery session, exploring the processes clients want to optimize and how their presumed solution fits their needs. In the end, the presumed solution concept is either validated and expanded with features or we discover a new approach that can address their needs with greater efficiency. This is why discovery sessions are necessary for outlining the most impactful solution for the client's enterprise.  

3) Solution design

After solidifying the solution concept, the team proceeds to the design phase. This phase considers everything discussed within the discovery and validation phase—from conditions and volume of tasks to the specifics of scaling and the enterprise.

The design phase also ensures that the enterprise automation software will be future-proof, i.e., ready for further iterations, compatible with planned integrations, and agile. That’s why decision-makers must choose a platform approach when they start building their strategy.

4) Solution development

The solution development process genuinely depends on the specifics of the department it is meant for—which is why stakeholder participation and end user feedback are crucial for this stage.

Whatever department we're developing a product for, there is an issue with licenses, permissions, and integrating this product into the infrastructure. Therefore, there are issues that only stakeholders can resolve. Addressing them from the outset is the most desirable course of action, but maintaining communication throughout the development is as important.

5) Solution deployment

The success of deployment largely depends on the quality of synchronization between the solution's capabilities and stakeholders' expectations. The more stakeholders are involved in strategy development and aware of the value, the smoother the deployment process will go.

The quality of synchronization also determines the quality of feedback. When stakeholders are engaged from day one, they know what to focus on, which pain points the solution is meant to address—and so they provide highly actionable insights regarding their experience with the solution and overall expectations. 

The main goal of any enterprise automation software is to augment human resources and liberate their working hours. Communicating directly with the end users is the best way to know if that goal was achieved.

7) Keep the bar high with process mining

Another important enterprise automation fact to remember is that it’s a constant work in progress. Enterprises are dynamic, not static—and therefore, they can be influenced by a range of factors, leading to a change in performance. That’s why executives need to pay close attention to their productivity and business processes.
This is where process mining becomes a detrimental tool to monitoring and preserving efficiency. Although process mining tools are commonly associated with the discovery stage, where enterprise processes are analyzed to determine what separates "as is" from "to be", they are also immensely efficient in consistently improving automated workflows.  

Decision-makers need to always keep an eye on their enterprise and business systems. The good thing is that these systems leave a trace that can be dissected and examined with process mining. It allows identifying deviations from normal performance, variations of process execution across facilities, and efficiency gaps.

How to find the best enterprise automation software?

The productivity and ROI of any enterprise automation initiative largely depend on the mindset with which the process is approached. Treating enterprise workflow automation as a one-time task or not paying attention to stakeholder needs can result in poor performance and less-than-satisfactory results. 

Also, it's not enough to comb through enterprise automation software reviews or simply go for the best offer on the market. True change starts with a well-planned strategy that is aligned with the progress and value decision-makers want to deliver for their enterprise. Once they make their discovery, they can map out a solution, validate it with vetted automation experts, and realize it while closely collaborating with involved departments. 

At Trinetix, we have a vast experience of mapping, creating, and executing value-oriented enterprise automation strategies for our Fortune 500 clients. Equipped with deep domain expertise, acute awareness of the enterprise landscape, and experience of working with A-list global companies, our intelligent automation CoE enables smooth implementation of complex enterprise automation solutions.

If you’re ready to go from ideating to validating and implementing, let’s chat! With a gallery of successful enterprise automation projects, our teams can provide an exclusive and insights-rich perspective on your workflow automation needs, assisting you with your goals and ensuring a smooth and flawless deployment.

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