Building a Centre of Excellence #6 - Stage 1 : Business Case
Before building an automation platform, it was necessary to develop a business case that would justify the investment and give confidence to the Trust Board that several business benefits would be delivered. No other NHS Trust had deployed a SaaS-based intelligent automation platform, and there was no reference site to see the technology working. There was a notion that our chosen platform, Thoughtonomy, was just all hype and that the idea of using virtual workers to free up time for our staff was just unreal.
For this reason, a lower value business case was created to develop the first process for a trial period for finance invoice processing. There was no obligation to go beyond a six-month engagement and with the SaaS platform involving no on-premises investment in technology architecture, the approach was low risk and readily achievable.
At East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) I am privileged to work for a forward-thinking Trust Board who are willing to experiment and take risks on a fail-fast principle.
Access to the Thoughtonomy platform was in just three days; this was achieved by having a highly talented ICT team engaged right from the outset.
The first process took around three and a half months to deliver and worked well. This was enough success to put together a delivery roadmap and commit to a longer-term engagement with Thoughtonomy and get approval for a full business case.
I like to think that ESNEFT’s success is helping other Trust’s gain confidence from Boards and investment groups. With the NHS marketplace, it should take less time to achieve an ROI if process selection is aligned with the freely available processes and objects.
So with the platform established and the initial business case approved how do we manage on-going requests for automation. I wanted to make my team accessible to anyone within the organisation regardless of their technical ability or position within the organisation hierarchy, which is why I develop the single page business case.
Quite childish in its appearance, it captures all of the information I need to determine whether automation is worth the time and effort. What is important any time saved is repurposed appropriately so before even getting past the first step was to ask the question;
“what will you do with all the time we save you”?
For each new request, an internal quotation is supplied showing the cost of development resources, the time to market plus a contribution to the pool of virtual workers. At present, this amount is not recharged. Still, as the team grows over the coming months, there is an expectation that organisation divisions will need to make the necessary investment by committing to efficiencies within their budgets.
If any organisation needs help and support in developing a business case, please feel free to reach out to me. I have provided input, written and reviewed many business cases now for a range of public and private sector organisations.