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How can management consultants help clients with automation?

As a result of a recent experience supporting two medium-sized companies with the implementation of back-office automation, I thought it would be interesting to share a few observations on how technology can help with efficiency improvements and reflect on how this can be applied to the management consulting sector.

We are currently operating in a business environment characterised by external elements such as VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), high levels of digitalisation and growing customers’ demand for it. Moreover, key internal factors are flexibility, productivity recovery, customer experience and insights analysis from data. The adoption of automation could play an essential role in business improvement. So, how can we as management consultants help clients to improve their performance with automation?

I propose a two-step approach:

  1. remove any issues/barriers (for both companies and management consultants) related to: 
  • automation buzzwords;
  • jargon about AI, machine learning, BPM (business process management) and RPA (robotic process automation) (hard and soft technology).

Their use might create unnecessary uncertainty and fear on the client’s side – make sure to explain everything in language they can relate to.

Once the points above have been clarified,

  1. consider the potential impacts for clients if automation is not introduced:
  • on the organisation and its culture:
    • change may lead to lower levels of flexibility;
    • underutilisation of legacy systems can result in a loss of productivity and key insights from data (automation covers the gaps of underutilisation of the ERP and CRM)
    • development of silos, sub-cultures and blaming games;
    • disengagement resulting in the loss of data insights and lower productivity levels;
  • on business. it is estimated that a lack of automation could have an impact on sales ( -20/30% Forbes), productivity (-30%; McKinsey) and multitasking that reduces productivity levels (40% of companies surveyed-Wrike).
  •  on employeesnegative consequences could come from employees’ increased levels of frustration due to carrying out repetitive and tedious tasks with a low level of challenge.

What can management consultants do?

  • Automation process validation: identify what is worth considering?
  • Functional requirements: what do we expect the applications to do to deliver maximum benefit?
  • Using middle management as the real change agents.

Relevant consulting competencies are less related to the technical side and more to the analysis/modelling of business processes and bottom-up and hybrid approaches for leading and managing the change.

A few of the concepts mentioned are further explained in this video.


Luca Collina is a transformational and growth management consultant and founder of Transforage TCA.

Wednesday 23rd November 2022
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