The robotic path to happiness
- Robotic process automation to get rid of boring, repetitive tasks
- Agile way of working to increase delivery and general collaboration
- Learning together how to get the most out of a new robotic colleague
“Helping to deliver automated processes throughout the entire bank” was the key message during the interview I had with the automation team back in May 2019. It was the start of Astrid Christiaen’s mission and an extraordinary learning experience. From business analyst to product owner at an international financial institution. Learn more about Astrid Christiaen’s journey and her growth together with her RPA team.
I joined an Agile team as a business analyst at the Robotics Center of Expertise at one of the biggest Financial Institutions in Belgium. Its focus? Reducing non-value-adding activities, failure rates, and guiding people into rethinking what they do on a daily basis. The most exciting aspect of my mission is that my role is end-to-end. I am involved from the very first discussion with the business until the implementation and the explanation of how to get the most out of their new robotic colleague.
A BA robot looks at the current processes and deep dives into it. The first step is to check if we can help to improve the process, getting a basic understanding of their daily tasks. If RPA appears to be the best solution to optimize the process, the team checks the technical feasibility and we define & challenge the business case. With a green light we can start describing the TO-BE process, which fits the client’s needs and start a risk assessment for automation.
Agilization to the rescue
Business analysis in an Agile organization is not just translating requirements and delivering a TO-BE process to the developer (scripter in our case). Especially in a fast delivery environment, communication and collaboration are key. During my mission, I started noticing some aspects the team could improve on:
- Impediments during the sprint such as a lack of access to applications, risk issues popping up.
- Multitasking, not being able to finish what you were doing. Starting something else as soon as a current development was blocked.
- Stakeholders didn’t have a clear view of impediments or progress at our side. At my side, it was difficult to manage their expectations.
With that many balls in the air, it is of course much more difficult to juggle. These are typical examples where agile practices could help. Although we were an agile delivery squad, there was room for improvement.
After a good talk with the management, we decided that I could take up the role of a product owner for the team. I started organizing more ceremonies: to plan the coming sprint and gave stakeholders a common sharing platform to discuss their automation. We also started a transparent prioritizing of our scripts, based on a business case and an estimation of the workload. The business case consists of cost savings in terms of saved time and possible risk improvements. When we start an automation we focus on finishing it, taking the prioritization into account, and limiting the number of scripts in progress. To avoid being blocked in the middle of the script, I’ve put in place a Definition of Ready for the scripting phase.
Getting rid of boring, repetitive tasks and freeing up time to be creative in your daily job will increase overall employee happiness.
Robotic happiness for me and the client
In the dozens of processes I examined, I discovered a number of non-value adding activities that were still being done manually such as the archiving of information, data transfer from one system to another, gathering information from different systems, correct routing of information…
During this project I didn’t only pick up hard skills, I discovered what I find important about the missions I would like to do. Helping people automate their “boring, repetitive tasks” can really signify a thorough change of their work-life. What I do on a daily basis can make a difference, which is an important driver to come to work and give it all every day. Another aspect of being part of a RPA team is the speed of delivery. You can realize something in a really short timeframe. Driving the automation is up to you and through close collaboration with the stakeholders you can deliver something that works in weeks. This all results in one happy and enthusiastic consultant.
Agilisation can drive better results. Applying the Agile methodology and adapting it to the needs of the team can increase delivery and general collaboration.
Robotic process automation has the reputation to help managers to cut costs and people. However, I don’t believe this is actually where the strength of automation lies. Getting rid of boring, repetitive tasks and freeing up time to be creative in your daily job will increase overall employee happiness.