3 new ways leaders will manage operations in the age of automation

By Kit Cox, CEO at Enate  

Automation and a diversified workforce is forcing the way service organisations operate to change. Find out how service orchestration provides operations leaders and managers with tools and data to successfully navigate new ways of working.

Automation is changing the way businesses operate – and rapidly.

Last week, Gartner estimated that global spending on robotic process automation (RPA) software will total $2.4 billion in 2022, up from $680 million in 2018.

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2022, 85 percent of large and very large organisations will have deployed some form of RPA. This will have a direct impact on the way operations leaders within service organisations work – and manage work.

The challenge

Team leaders in service organisations historically have operated in two modes:

  • Pastoral care
  • Fire-fighting

Realistically, most service delivery operations don’t have the tooling, data, training or processes to do any more than that. Because there isn’t clarity on resourcing, demand, performance or capacity, stuff catches fire. Employees work their butts off to put the fires out … then need support to be persuaded to do it all over again when the next fire breaks out.

Most managers and team leaders have never been formally trained in operations management. Often, operators have been promoted to do what their predecessor did. That’s becoming more of a challenge because the way we work is changing.

The difference

We are entering operations in the ‘robotic age’ where hyper-connectedness and data flows define our every move. The workforce has diversified: We have ‘digital workers’ in the organisation - whether that’s RPA robots, ML models or anything else.

Don’t kid yourself that this makes management easier … it doesn’t:

  • Robots get sick
  • Robots need re-training
  • Robots get unionised

What’s also changed is that service orchestration gives managers the data and tools that they need to manage service organisations in a new way.

Three new ways of managing operations

There are three new approaches:

  1. Data-driven management – Platforms like service orchestration give you extraordinary amounts of insight into the performance of your operation, the resources within it and the load profiles over time (ie. who’s busy when)
  2. Proactive control – Proactivity is the counter to firefighting. Service orchestration gives you the information and tools to carefully manage risks (the ‘heat sources’ in your operation) to make sure fires never break out
  3. Autonomous operations – Many of the day-to-day decisions to be made by team leaders in current operations aren’t required with a properly orchestrated service. Orchestration takes care of pulling the day-to-day levers around what resource does what, when.

The need for education

Despite the opportunities to adopt new ways of working, not every organisation is equipped to make change to a proactive, data-driven approach to management.

We have observed three things among our customers:

  • Without leadership there is no change
    Just because you put in new tooling that allows people to manage in a new way doesn’t mean that they will. Change doesn’t happen without leadership. The senior leaders must be engaged every day in driving change and reviewing the data and decisions being made.
  • Without training and guidance nobody changes behaviour
    It is critical to work with the right business partner to help train your team leaders and managers how to be proactive, how to manage performance with data, how to drive improvement. Lean and Six Sigma techniques apply and can be enhanced by coupling with behavioural science.
  • The role of an operations exec or team leader must change
    A well-orchestrated business needs operations execs and team leaders to change behaviours quickly. There's a challenge in managing that cultural shift. 

Want to find out more about how service orchestration will enable your service organisation to transform its operations? Request a demo

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