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7 Key Benefits of a Cross-Functional Agile Team and RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)

4 min read
Sep 1, 2020 10:00:00 AM

The drive towards Agility represents a major turning point in the way enterprise software, and automations are developed. Moving away from the siloed teams traditionally found using Waterfall methodology or Agile 1.0, organizations are establishing cross-functional teams to optimize flexibility, productivity, and build their RPA Center of Excellence (CoE).

Designed to bring greater efficiency and value to the software and RPA development lifecycle, cross-functional agile teams bring their unique expertise and functional insight to work towards a common goal. It's the best way to govern and scale RPA and provide on-time execution of high-quality solutions while optimizing delivery and removing bottlenecks.

But transitioning from siloed teams requires change, and change is hard. To implement cross-functional teams in your organization, you need a good reason that can easily be communicated to executives and those affected by the change, ensuring you can get the buy-in required for success.

Here are 7 impactful benefits of organizing a cross-functional RPA CoE or Agile team that will supercharge your automation efforts and SDLC for success:

1. Cross-Functional Teams Resolve Issues of 'Conflicting Priorities' for RPA and Product Teams

In companies that have organized teams around siloed skill sets, releases that require a range of domain expertise will need to involve multiple departments. Different departments will typically have other priorities, which will inevitably lead to bottlenecks in the release cycle.

From an RPA perspective, automations that are independently owned by IT or the business function lack the alignment and expertise for enterprise scale. The lack of alignment culminates in poor process selection and expensive bot maintenance and errors.

Learn More: How to Select the Right Processes for RPA

Across the organization, you will usually see multiple projects in flight at the same time. Each of them will take incremental steps forward, stall, then continue forwards or backward depending on the review and amount of rework needed. After all of this, the product or automations will inch along slowly to a distant finish.

A cross-functional team will help eliminate most, if not all, of the conflicting priorities and knowledge gaps, keeping everyone on the same page. Teams will be aligned, focused on successful delivery, and completing the next iteration of work.

They are dedicated to the objective and not just to their specific skill set or their functional manager.

2. Cross-Functional Teams Improve Communication and Quality

Coordinating projects or automations across multiple departments and lines of business requires meetings. In many cases, lots of meetings.

Documents and processes like development specifications or Process Design Documents (PDDs) can introduce miscommunication, with potential implications for quality and rework downstream.

Thankfully, cross-functional agile teams and RPA CoEs inherently improve communication and the quality of work. It may seem inefficient to have an RPA developer or a UX designer sitting in early meetings where scope, customer audience, and other important considerations for the project are discussed, but these discussions provide important context.

3. Cross-Functional Teams Ensure Consistent Focus on the Customer Experience

Cross-functional teams should be organized around delivering a particular customer intent, action, or value stream. Mapping this helps the team remain focused on the customer experience. A key component to scaling RPA and measuring its ROI is always connecting automations to higher-level business objectives like enhancing the customer experience. Although less common, companies still fall into the trap of building products or automating only themselves, rather than for their customers.

By organizing teams around the customer experience and ensuring their RPA CoE is continually tying bots to high-level business goals, they inevitably become the building blocks for creating and delivering greater value to the end-user.

4. Cross-Functional Teams Iterate Quickly

Cross-functional RPA COEs and agile teams can iterate faster than siloed teams. Siloed teams can often find themselves delayed as one or more skill-sets are not available when needed. Cross-functional agile squads have all of the necessary resources and skills to iterate rapidly, continually improve, and deliver.

5. Cross-Functional Teams Improve Conflict Resolution

This is one of the greatest and most overlooked benefits of cross-functional teams.

Siloed automation or product teams often spend many hours in meetings trying to reconcile conflicts, each team taking a point of view that is often biased by their formal training. In almost all cases, teams with a full plate of work and tight schedules often have veto power over a project, and there is little incentive to work with other teams.

With cross-functional teams, people are rewarded not only for exercising their skills but also for the project's overall success. If the schedule seems impossible or they disagree about a particular approach, rather than just throwing up their hands and going on to another project, they must find a way to resolve the conflict so that the project and automation move forward.

6. Cross-Functional Teams Improve Alignment and Use of Resources

One common objection to cross-functional teams is that there are not enough people to form the teams to address current problems and needs. Rather than seeing this as a limitation, this should be seen as a strength.

When forming a cross-functional team or RPA Center of Excellence, management prioritizes the most important problems to be solved and the most crucial customer value streams to be delivered. Teams can work rapidly to solve these problems and deliver value to customers. The teams can then be reconstituted to address other challenges and streams.

Organizing by cross-functional teams and RPA CoEs sends the message that people should spend their time on the tasks that uphold greater business priorities rather than on less important tasks or projects that clog up the queues. This results in more effective use of time and resources.

7. Cross-Functional Teams Lead to Greater RPA and Product Innovation

People with different formal training and skill sets often look at a problem in different ways. Including multiple skill sets on your agile team and different profiles in your RPA CoE can often lead to business and digital innovation in unexpected ways.

Blueprint's Business Transformation Platform delivers the ideal solution where cross-functional Agile teams and RPA CoEs can collaborate and deliver better products quicker, or scale and govern RPA across the enterprise. Blueprint's Collaboration Hub – a core tool in the Enterprise Automation Suite – is what allows all stakeholders to discuss and comment on artifacts, capturing those discussions as part of the permanent record to facilitate onboarding or audit purposes. Blueprint also provides effective and easy reviews and approvals that are centrally stored, distributed, and tracked, transforming how teams today collaborate.

Discover how your cross-functional Agile teams and RPA CoEs can deliver more value and scale automation with transformative collaboration capabilities by downloading the Blueprint Business Transformation Platform datasheet here.

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