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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Automation Strategy Development for a Large Multinational Corporation


There are countless scenarios that require Automation. Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Automation to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. Let us analyze the following scenario.

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Consider this scenario: A multinational corporation operating in the fast-paced technology sector is struggling with cumbersome, manual processes that are slowing down operations and increasing costs.

The corporation has been experiencing a decrease in productivity and efficiency, leading to lower profit margins. The organization aims to implement automation across various departments to optimize operations, reduce costs, and streamline business processes.



Given the situation, two hypotheses could be formulated: 1) The organization's manual processes are inefficient and outdated, leading to operational bottlenecks and increased costs. 2) The corporation lacks a comprehensive automation strategy, which hinders the effective implementation of automation technologies across various departments.

Methodology

Adopting a 5-phase approach to Automation could help the organization tackle its business challenges. The phases include:

  1. Assessment of Current Processes: Identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas that could benefit from automation.
  2. Development of Automation Strategy: Define the organization's automation goals, select suitable automation technologies, and outline a roadmap for implementation.
  3. Design and Testing of Automation Solutions: Design automated processes, develop prototypes, and conduct testing to ensure functionality and efficiency.
  4. Implementation of Automation Solutions: Roll out automation solutions across the organization, while ensuring seamless integration with existing systems and processes.
  5. Monitoring and Continuous Improvement: Regularly review the performance of automated processes, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary adjustments.

Learn more about Continuous Improvement

For effective implementation, take a look at these Automation best practices:

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) (36-slide PowerPoint deck)
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) (26-slide PowerPoint deck)
Business Process Automation - Implementation Toolkit (Excel workbook and supporting ZIP)
Warehouse Automation: 10 Technologies (26-slide PowerPoint deck)
Marketing Automation: Customer Lifetime Value (20-slide PowerPoint deck)
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Key Considerations

CEOs may have concerns about the cost of implementing automation, the impact on employees, and the return on investment. It's crucial to consider these factors:

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Implementing automation can be expensive, but it can also lead to substantial cost savings in the long term by reducing manual labor and increasing efficiency.
  • Employee Training and Change Management: Automation can cause job displacement, so it's important to provide training and support to help employees adapt to new roles. A robust change management plan can help ease the transition.
  • Return on Investment: According to a report by McKinsey, automation can increase productivity by 20-25% and save businesses $4-6 trillion globally. Hence, the return on investment can be significant.

Expected business outcomes include increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved productivity. However, potential implementation challenges may include resistance to change, technical difficulties, and high upfront costs.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) could include the number of processes automated, time saved due to automation, cost savings achieved, and employee satisfaction scores post-implementation.

Learn more about Change Management Return on Investment

Sample Deliverables

  • Automation Strategy Document (Word)
  • Process Assessment Report (Excel)
  • Change Management Plan (PowerPoint)
  • Implementation Roadmap (PowerPoint)
  • Performance Monitoring Report (Excel)

Explore more Automation deliverables

Case Studies

Companies like Amazon and Tesla have successfully implemented automation to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Amazon uses automation in its warehouses to streamline operations, while Tesla's automated production lines have significantly increased the company's manufacturing capacity.

Explore additional related case studies

Additional Insights

Automation can be a game-changer for businesses, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each organization needs to assess its unique needs and develop a customized automation strategy. Moreover, employee buy-in is crucial for successful implementation. Lastly, while automation can lead to job displacement, it can also create new roles and opportunities for employees, making it a double-edged sword.

Automation Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Automation. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Automation subject matter experts.

Understanding Automation Technologies

Various automation technologies exist, ranging from Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Each technology has its strengths and limitations. For example, RPA is excellent for repetitive tasks, AI excels in pattern recognition, and machine learning is proficient in predictive analytics. The choice of technology depends on the organizational requirements and objectives. Experts recommend commencing with a detailed technological capability assessment to identify the most suitable automation technology.

Learn more about Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning Robotic Process Automation

Measuring Success of Automation Implementation

The success of an automation initiative is measured by tangible and intangible outcomes. Tangible benefits include cost reductions, increased efficiency, and higher productivity. On the other hand, intangible outcomes involve improved employee satisfaction and increased operational agility. Properly defining success metrics upfront will provide a clear direction and make it easier to measure the initiative's impact.

Learn more about Cost Reduction

Ensuring a Smooth Transition to Automation

Smooth transition to a more automated environment depends heavily on leadership and management. Leaders should communicate the benefits of automation, provide learning opportunities for employees to improve their skills, and offer support during the transition. A well-structured change management plan, focusing on these areas could ensure an easier and successful transition.

Managing Risks Associated with Automation

Like any technology, automation also presents risks, such as security breaches, malfunction of automated systems, and dependence on third-party vendors. These risks could affect business continuity and data integrity. One approach to mitigating risks involves implementing strong controls to maintain system security, regularly assessing and updating automated systems, and establishing robust service level agreements with vendors. Additionally, developing a contingency plan is crucial for ensuring business continuity in the event of unforeseen disruptions.

Additional Resources Relevant to Automation

Here are additional best practices relevant to Automation from the Flevy Marketplace.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased operational efficiency by 25% through the deployment of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in repetitive tasks.
  • Reduced manual process costs by 30% within the first year post-implementation, surpassing the initial cost-benefit analysis projections.
  • Achieved a 20% improvement in employee satisfaction scores due to training and new role adaptation post-automation.
  • Realized a return on investment (ROI) within 18 months, 6 months ahead of the projected timeline.
  • Identified and initiated continuous improvement on 15% more processes than initially targeted, due to effective monitoring and performance review.

The overall success of the automation initiative is evident from the significant improvements in operational efficiency, cost reduction, employee satisfaction, and a faster-than-expected ROI. The surpassing of initial projections in cost savings and the positive shift in employee sentiment, as evidenced by improved satisfaction scores, underscore the effectiveness of the comprehensive automation strategy and its execution. However, the initiative's success could have been further enhanced by addressing the initial resistance to change more proactively and integrating advanced AI and machine learning technologies in areas beyond repetitive tasks for predictive analytics and decision-making processes.

For next steps, it is recommended to expand the scope of automation by exploring and integrating more AI and machine learning capabilities into predictive analytics and strategic decision-making processes. Additionally, a focus on scaling up employee retraining programs to fill new roles created by automation will ensure continued innovation and efficiency. Finally, establishing a dedicated task force to identify and assess new automation technologies will ensure the company remains at the forefront of technological advancements, maintaining its competitive edge.

Source: Automation Strategy Development for a Large Multinational Corporation, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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