How to break down work into tasks that can be automated | 2/22/2019 | Staff
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Virtually every organization is wrestling and experimenting with automation. But most are missing the benefits that come from deep and systemic change. One of the largest failings, in our estimation, is that organizations aren't spending the time necessary to deeply understand the work they're considering automating. They aren't deconstructing jobs so the specific tasks that can be automated can be identified. And without deconstruction, companies risk significant collateral damage and minimizing their ROI as they attempt to automate entire jobs.

So how do you go about deconstructing jobs in order to identify how best to deploy automation against specific tasks and the role said automation might play?

Approaches - Component - Activities - Jobs - Work

There are many approaches to deconstructing and categorizing the component activities of jobs, but we believe they can be illustrated with three fundamental work characteristics:

Repetitive work is often predictable, routine, and determined by predefined criteria while more variable work is unpredictable, changing, and requiring adaptive criteria and decision rules.

Work - Tasks - Credit - Analyst - Example

Most work tasks of a credit analyst are repetitive, for example. They gather and synthesize similar data for every loan application. They look for the same red flags in each piece of customer data that are pulled from bank records, credit rating agency data, government records, and social media. Generally, repetitive work is more automation-compatible with well-established solutions such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA can perform such analyses as much as 15 times faster, with almost no errors.

On the other end of the continuum, the work of an HR consultant is highly variable. Every client situation is different and every problem is unique. HR consultants work with analytical tool kits, change management frameworks, and process design techniques that must be customized to diagnose unique problems and solutions. Such work is generally less amenable to automation, but advances in cognitive automation might automate some analytical tasks, or...
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