At East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), we endeavour to work on a 4 to 6-week development lifecycle from the identification of an opportunity through to delivery. The reason we can do this is that we do not waste time re-engineering processes, making them lean only to automate them.
If an existing process gives the required output, then why change it? For example, I have seen organizations map out their new starters and leavers process, engage transformation, and undertake process redesign. Only to spend 18 months automating the process. What is the point?
I regard automation as a 'for now' technology. The automation we deliver today is likely to change in the midterm or be non-existent, so a prolonged development lifecycle reduces the potential to reap the benefits.
The key to success is to deliver bite-size chunks of automation in sprint cycles, release the benefits, and move on. It is wholly acceptable for a bot to hand off to a human and vice versa. The only change management required is to tell the person currently doing the work to stop and do something more productive instead. Any hardworking member of staff will readily accept this.
That is not to say that your automation roadmap should not comprise of a multi-layered strategy. Have a mix of 'low hanging fruit' where automating an existing process is quick and easy. Identity processes than need some redesign and are a little more complicated but will release more benefits. Finally, have a few sophisticated automations that incorporate an element of cognitive processing or AI to deliver true business transformation.
Developing a range of processes across similar end-user applications will allow bot code to be re-used saving time.
Collaborating with similar organisations, accessing on-line process exchanges (especially the NHS marketplace) will be hugely beneficial.
An easy way to identify automation opportunities and to engage with staff from all levels of the organisation is to use my simplified business case. It is great for understanding the complexity of an opportunity, for evaluating the benefits and forms the basis for agreeing the terms of engagement with the customer.