Why is it important to have your house in order before starting your digital transformation? (2 of 5)

This question is the topic of a series of articles in the coming weeks around the theme of having your “House in Order”. 

Last week we published the first version with a more general introduction. This time we will go further into detail and explain why the old tenet “First organize, then Automate” is still very valid.

Not organizing your scope of automation will lead to automating inefficiencies and sometimes even chaos. This will not bring value to the company and will only lead to disappointment and often to more cost.

But why is this the case? And for what reasons is organizing first a clever idea?

To answer these questions, we must look at the considerations that individuals and organizations often use to justify automation projects:

  • “Yes, we have a lot of inefficiencies, but it is a promising idea to automate anyway. We will work out our way in the project and get a positive outcome”
  • “We have never been well organized in our company and still doing automation projects with success, so why should we organize first and lose time?”
  • “Yes, we have chaos now, that’s why we want to automate!”

The common thing about these statements is that individuals and organizations overestimate their own capabilities. They expect something positive if they put in enough effort.

Starting an automation project with this mindset makes it very likely that the project will take more time, resources and budget than anticipated. It is also very likely that the same results could have been obtained with a lot less time, resources and budget if first some proper scoping and organizing had been done.

The first reason for organizing upfront is that organizing is more than half the job. The remainder is automating. Organizing less upfront will result in more automation work and automation of inefficiencies. If you want to organize afterwards, it is likely that there is a larger scope because inefficiencies have been automated and there is more data, more work involved. In addition, it will lead to rework in the automation itself.

A second reason for organizing upfront is better Change Management. For every change, it helps if you can create or demonstrate a proper sense of urgency. If you take sufficient time to organize, you also lay the foundation for change acceptance. The automated solution that comes along with the change will then be accepted more easily.

A third reason is related to the second one. If you start to automate without proper organizing and Change Management, you automatically use the IT solution to drive the change. As most changes also cause resistance, this can create its own problems: people will debate the system, but not the underlying reasons for change. These debates often do not end well.

Conclusion: If you want to be effective and agile with your automation projects, organize well prior to automation. Have your house in order! It will save you time and effort, while you increase the chance that the automated solution is better accepted by your people.

Q7 Consulting is often involved in automation projects where having your “House in Order” is the “Question behind the Question”. We can help you to make your automation projects more effective. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the next articles regarding “House in Order”.