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How to optimize automation at scale with an automation center of excellence

The opportunity of enterprise automation series

The center of excellence (CoE) allows for rapid transformation while controlling associated risks, ensuring that you're managing your automation investments wisely and enabling you to operate and monitor your initiatives efficiently. The automation CoE is at the intersection of control, speed, and agility.

The robots are coming

Think the robots are coming? They’re already here. In fact, robots or some form of automation are expected to complete more than half the work that’s done on Earth by 2025.1

Clearly, process automation is no longer a novelty. There are tremendous, demonstrated returns in efficiency and human capacity to be gained—making automation a fundamental expectation for an organization’s management, customers, vendors, employees, and shareholders alike.

Given automation’s power and potential, what could go wrong? If automation initiatives careen across your organization, you could end up with a massive traffic jam. A way to avoid backups and maintain control is by implementing a center of excellence—a traffic cop of sorts that’s essential to speeding and scaling your enterprise automation efforts.

1 World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Report 2018, September 2018

Automation center of excellence responsibilities

Plan and align
  • Deploy ongoing opportunity analysis processes, standards, and guidelines for determining potential ROI
  • Perform ongoing risk assessments
  • Create and maintain an organizational design strategy and operating model
  • Maintain and run CoE functions


Enable processes and controls

  • Manage design of processes around automation
  • Ensure security and controls standards are established and followed
  • Create policies and procedures that direct automation development
  • Integrate a robust testing program for unit, integration, and user acceptance testing
  • Create and organize training and knowledge sharing programs
  • Define a change management process for automation


Protect and monitor

  • Develop action plans for issue identification and resolution
  • Enable supervision and compliance teams through tools and dashboards
  • Align automation software vendor contracts
  • Rationalize frameworks, data extraction, and digitizing the testing of controls
  • Assess potential impacts of changes to IT systems to automation
  • Maintain business continuity and IT disaster recovery plans
  • Monitor the performance of automation and define processes for ongoing refinement
  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the CoE, including:
    • Redeployment of resources
    • Purchasing power regarding software licensing fees
    • Number of training hours hosted and/or available
    • Web hits to internal website
    • Implementation cycle times
    • Cost savings/hours resulting from automation
    • Cost to automate per process
    • Retirement of manual detective controls in favor of preventive automated controls
    • Cyber protections unique to automation technology

Something to keep in mind: Giving complete control to a CoE is essential to identifying large-scale automation use cases across business lines and geographies. But multinational organizations may need to take a more "think global, act local" approach. By adhering to the documentation, internal control, and development methodologies established and governed by the CoE, business lines and markets can explore and pilot automation initiatives locally through innovation "cells." The result? Standardization and oversight without bottlenecks.


Acceleration in action

Governing and managing automation efforts

Creating an automation CoE was critical to helping one of our aerospace and defense clients govern and manage its automation efforts:

  • As cost pressures continued to mount, the client realized that it needed to become more efficient and ramp up production significantly—and so it began to implement automation across the enterprise.
  • In tandem, the client implemented a CoE at the core of its business to manage its automation journey across operations, engineering, HR, and finance.
  • By centrally controlling and managing automation using a CoE, the client is able to drive standardization, provide guidelines and governance, and ensure business and operational readiness.

Addressing automation post-merger integration challenges

A global client was grappling with post-merger integration challenges and utilized an automation CoE for funding and process structure:

  • While the organization was keen to reap the benefits of automation, it recognized early on that the only way to gain funding for automation projects was to show its global CFO that it could operate as an integrated business.
  • To that end, the client implemented a CoE to build structure and process around how automation technologies are deployed and scaled across the business.
  • As a result, the client is better able to respond to automation priorities and leverage a process and structure that objectively ranks priority candidate processes. Funding decisions can be made more confidently knowing the relative value and complexity has been analyzed and only those automation projects with the greatest potential return on investment and shortest payback period are elevated for executive funding approval.

Put the pedal to the metal

Some executives may be concerned that a CoE will slow down their automation progress. In fact, it’s just the opposite: A CoE can be an accelerant.

A CoE can enable rapid transformation while controlling associated risks, helping you to manage your automation investments wisely and enabling you to operate and monitor your initiatives efficiently.

Companies that don’t organize their automation efforts around a CoE can still move forward. But they can’t do it as efficiently or at scale—and they may be bypassed by speedier, more streamlined competitors.

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By focusing on the organizational, operational, and governance readiness aspects of automation—up front—executives can significantly increase the speed and scale of their automation projects.

As the competitive advantages of automation continue to expand, and the use of automation technologies becomes more common, the need for organizations to accelerate their automation programs and quickly move to scale becomes more urgent. It’s time to move into the fast lane:

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Let's talk

Valeriy Dokshukin
Partner | Digital Risk Management Solutions Leader
Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory
Deloitte & Touche LLP

Nathan Newell
Senior Manager
Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory
Deloitte & Touche LLP

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