Automation 101: Automation teams — Should you build your own or hire the experts?

By Gene Chao

Automation 101 is a series where we’ll breakdown wonky, technical automation topics at the 8th grade level


Business process automation (BPA), the technology-enabled automation of activities and services that accomplish a specific function or workflow, is becoming less of an option and more of a necessity for executives. Industry leaders are adopting crucial automation tech at a rapid pace, forcing the hand of c-suite members to consider the value of intelligent automation in their workforce. 

The problem? AI is a crucial enabler of automation. And if you can’t adopt AI into your business, you’ll only achieve the most basic of automation outcomes. With IBM automation services, you get a combination of process automation, data science and AI experts who can unite disparate technologies into powerful solutions.

A staggering 90% of executives admit that they don’t have the necessary tools to build even basic, let alone advanced, process automation into their companies. Although this figure may be surprising, lack of automation experience in an executive team makes plenty of sense. These specialized skills have historically been kept inside niche firms.

This divergence leads many executives to a fork in the road: Do I purchase automation software, or build my own automation team to accomplish these goals in-house? Here’s why I recommend a third option, hiring automation experts.

Building an automation team in-house will surely be the first instinct of many executives. “How can outside companies automate our custom processes?” many c-suite commonly ask. But an even more important question might be, “How do we go about automating our own processes, and what does it take to get the job done efficiently?”

Building an automation team is no small endeavor and it requires significant investment into new personnel. The average cost of a Machine Learning Engineer and a Data Scientist is around USD 120,000 per year each (according to Glassdoor), and automation teams might need multiple hires in each position. Software Developers are also not cheap, yet necessary for the completion of an automation project, with salaries starting at over USD 100,000 per year.

The recruiting investment to build an automation team is also quite substantial. Executives must ask themselves “Is my recruiting team ready to identify the right technical talent to build the product that is best for my organization?” Another pressing question is whether or not to hire a recruiter to help get the right talent and find the right Team Lead to manage the project — one who has achieved measurable results in another organization. Is this something your recruiting team is prepared to undertake?

Even more significant is the time investment an organization makes when deciding to do in-house automation. An in-house team might take over a year just to code the right custom interfaces, workflows and machine learning techniques into your organization. Is your executive team prepared to wait that long for results? And will they have the patience to iterate on the initial product your in-house team builds?

Clearly, implementing an in-house automation strategy comes with risks. At the opposite end of the spectrum, plug-in automation solutions tend to lack the flexibility needed to accommodate the custom processes and workflows of unique organizations. This is why executive teams need process automation that's not only adaptable to their companies, but also creates solutions with short implementation times and fewer hassles.

Automation services from IBM strike a balance for almost any executive looking to mitigate the risk of transitioning to automation while still maintaining all the benefits. Adaptable to the most rigorous custom processes, IBM process automation takes an entire team of engineers, data scientists, and machine learning specialists, and puts them to work for your business. No recruiting, no new additions to management, no lengthy projects — just superior automation software and services your executive team can implement without the headaches of creating or maintaining an in-house team. Take the next step in your automation journey with IBM Automation. To find out how your organization can partner with us, click below.

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