Category

RPA

So… What do you do?

By Behaviour, Business, Communication, Continuous Improvement, Customer Service, Data, Employee Engagement, Food for thought, High Performance, Information, Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Management, Performance, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Technology

Introduction

In the past 7 years as a Lean Continuous Improvement (CI) practitioner, the most common question I get asked is, “So… What is it you do in your role?”  Usually, in response to this question,  I pause for a moment and tend to describe the technical aspects of my job, whether it be: achieving financial benefits through the delivery of projects, releasing capacity through streamlining processes, describing my role as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and the list most definitely goes on.  In all cases: I’m often greeted with a blank face, disinterest, statements such as “that sounds complicated” and then the topic of conversation quickly changes to something different and more likely understood by the unaffiliated.

Reflection

While on holiday in Europe and after a repeat of the same conversation I took a moment to reflect on why I kept receiving the same response, I was reminded of the most used definition of insanity: ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.’  In my moments of reflection, I started to consider the statement usually presented back to me ‘that sounds complicated.’  When I think about what I do on a daily basis, none of it is rocket science, nor does it require a doctorate in astrophysics.

Leans and Continuous improvement can be and in my opinion ‘is’ simple on most occasions, with the true complexity being engaging with those people impacted by any potential changes.  Remember, everyone is different!  We all have our own set of values, beliefs, individual purposes or objectives, all of which make embedding change that little bit more difficult.  So, understanding ‘what’s in it for them’ (the voice of my customer) and being able to articulate it in a simple way when conversing with them is important in helping them see or think slightly differently about a change to the way they’ve always done things.

Why then have I and others tended to complicate a response to this question, when part of the focus behind creating value is, to simplify things?  Could it be that my typically technical response is some form of self-preservation driven by the fact that creating a culture of continuous improvement is the goal and if that is achieved my role may no longer be required?  Maybe it is linked to the fact I separate work from my social life and have completely forgotten the fact the concept of continuous improvement can be applied equally in your social life just as much as in a business setting.

I came to the realisation that a significant part of me being able to fulfil my purpose is me helping and supporting others.  Something I do every day and is the foundation behind my job.  As a Lean CI Practitioner, we do this by delivering projects which may release capacity or deliver financial savings for our clients or businesses.  It also includes the facilitation of Lean training courses, the coaching and mentoring of people along their development paths.  It was at this point that I was able to answer the original question simply enough whilst creating the appetite for others to want to know the ‘how’.

Conclusion

Now when I am asked the question, “What do you do?” my response is quite simply, I support both businesses and people in realising their potential by sharing a simple approach which will help achieve their goals and ultimately their purpose.

How would you respond to the question and if you’re not a practitioner, would response provide enough intrigue to want to find out more?

For more information, please contact us via our website at www.leanconsulting.com. Alternatively, follow us on social media for tips, insights and updates!

How to effectively execute your digital transformation strategy

By Data, High Performance, Information, Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Management, Performance, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Technology

Digital Transformation has been a corporate buzz-term for the last 5 years. Like any latest trend, people have taken an incredibly macro-level concept. They just throw it on any damaged business as the silver bullet we’ve all been waiting for to a point where most SME’s see digital transformation as a fairy tale.

Here’s 5 reason why it doesn’t work:

  • Digital Transformation is not the collection of technology mashed together.
  • There has been no strategy for change developed
  • Senior Management have driven requirements rather than people on the ground
  • The entire system of operations hasn’t been considered.
  • They looked to emulate what their competition is doing

So, how to effectively execute your digital transformation strategy?

  1. Talk to your customers; both internal and external – what’s not working? Why doesn’t it work? What’s the impact?
  2. Test that what you have been told is correct. Have you observed this? Why did this happen?
  3. Tell your people what you have found. Create engagement.
  4. Develop short, medium- and long-term solutions with the business and customers.
  5. Test quickly – fail fast
  6. Measure the success – is this solving the problems diagnosed at the start?

For more information, please contact us via our website at www.leanconsulting.com. Alternatively, follow us on social media for tips, insights and updates!

Why is it important to select appropriate processes for RPA?

By Data, High Performance, Information, Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Management, Performance, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Technology

Every organisation has processes, and some will have thousands! But, are all processes suitable for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? The answer is no. Not all processes are suitable nor can be automated. Therefore, to save on valuable funding and resource, it’s vital to identify the appropriate candidate processes for RPA.

In this article, we will cover what some of the key characteristics are for a Robot (or ‘Bot’), and the reasons why is it important to select the right process to apply RPA:

The Characteristics of a ‘Bot’…

        • It is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution’. There will be preparation and work definition required prior to the Bot being built.
        • A Bot needs to be designed to conduct tasks just as how a human was trained to execute the job. The Bot will then have to run through testing to ensure that it’s doing what it should be doing
        • Although a Bot doesn’t need toilet or lunch breaks, a Bot doesn’t have an infinite capacity to carry out work. There is only so much work 1 Bot can carry out (although, a Bot can do the work of between 3-8 Full-time employee, and sometimes much more)

Why is it important to select the most appropriate process for RPA?

      • The groundwork, set-up and test of a Bot cost money. A chunk of this can be wasted if a Bot is deployed to a process that is not suitable to deliver what the organisation wants.
      • The selected process is the main contributor to the success and benefits of applying a Bot.

Complex process + low frequency + low volume + low business value = Less Effective

Simple + high volume + high frequency + high value process = More Effective

      • Clients that invest in the preparation, development, testing and implementation of a Bot want to see a high return on that investment. Therefore, it is important that the right processes are selected for the Bot, and that the Bot is loaded with value-add processes that keep the Bot 100% productive.

What type of processes should we look out for as candidates for RPA?

For more information, please contact Simon Hopley or our RPA team via our website at www.leanconsulting.com. Alternatively, follow us on social media to keep updated.

How Robotic Automation Works?

By Lean Thinking, Robotic Process Automation, RPA

This blog will help you understand how RPA works and how it can maximise your business and lower your costs at the same time!

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic Process Automation or RPA for short – is the latest technological development set on making mundane and repetitive chores a thing of the past! RPA can increase business productivity whilst simultaneously decreasing workforce hours spent on tedious, boring and repetitive jobs.

How does this look like in your business?

Picture your administration floor with five, ten or more employees doing exactly the same tasks all day every day such as structured reports, emails, CRM and other rule-based tasks. This can be costly, time-consuming, dull and prone to inaccuracy. Now imagine these everyday jobs being executed by software robots. Your processes are much faster and more accurate, leaving humans to do the more complex jobs that can benefit from the power of the human brain!

How robotic process automation works?

Robotic process automation works by developing software robots that mimic the actions as if humans were undertaking it. This is achieved through the user interface or UI of an application, website or operating system whereby the software robot can simulate user inputs such as clicking, scrolling and typing.

RPA tools also have a wide range of APIs to bypass the UI interaction that a human would have to go through to access an application function. Some common examples of this are sending Outlook emails and reading Excel Spreadsheets – these only require the bare minimum input such as recipient, subject and body, of the file path, sheet name and range. It is these APIs that make RPA such a valuable and far-reaching tool.

In the future, RPA will start to take more advantage of artificial intelligence. This means it will be able to learn from past events and use that knowledge to do things differently moving forward. This will be advantageous in processes that sometimes need to be adapted for special cases.

So how to get started with Robotic Process Automation?

    1. Prime Candidates for automation are those processes that are extremely repetitive and rule-based (i.e. if this, then do that), and they can be found in almost every department in every industry.
       

    2. Once a suitable process is chosen, a Process Design Document (PDD) is created to describe the process in detail. This should be in enough detail that from this document alone, anyone should be able to carry out the task.
       

    3. Once the PDD is agreed upon, solution design and robotic architecture are created along with the development testing environment whereby the developers can begin to automate the desired processes, tasks and actions.
       

    4. How to create the automation will depend on the RPA product you use, but the current biggest players in the space make some of the development simpler by providing a comprehensive library of readymade components which help to decrease the amount of code needed. Larger builds will require in-depth knowledge in programming, with proficiency in languages such as .NET.
       

    5. After the Automation, the developer will unit test the build ensuring any bugs that may arise are handled appropriately, whilst checking that the expected results match the actual results given.
       

    6. With initial monitoring to ensure reliability, the project is deployed and continued support is given by the development team to make alterations and ensure ongoing performance.

    Conclusion

    Eliminating repetitive tasks, increasing productivity and increasing accuracy, RPA  is a welcomed disruptive technology. According to HFS Research, they found that our of the top 1000 Forbes, 36% of business managers are either piloting or implementing an RPA project in their organisations. With recent large investments into RPA platforms and innovations in cognitive RPA with AI insight, the future of RPA has the potential to remove the robot out of the human.

Beware, Narcissistic Leaders!

By Lean Thinking, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Uncategorised

I was listening to Donald Trumps’ interview with The Sun where he was commenting on the Tory Leadership race. Whilst all the press commentary centred around the appropriateness of his comments (quite rightly), I was struck again about how almost everything Donald Trump talks about is how awesome he is, and his language constantly references himself.

It’s well documented that Donald Trump is a classic narcissist (among other things). But let’s looks at some of the things he said in the interview:

“It’s something that I find very interesting.”

“I actually have studied it very hard. I know the different players.”

“But I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent.”

“I like him. I have always liked him.”

“He has been very positive about me and our country.”

“I have been asked for endorsements”.

“I could help anybody if I endorse them. I mean, we’ve had endorsement where they have gone up for forty, fifty points at a shot.”

“I don’t imagine any other US president was closer to your great land.”

I haven’t really cherry-picked here. Donald Trump was asked about the Leadership contest but what follows is a series of statements about him and about how awesome he is.

He does this a lot.

It’s no difference in Business. If you find a leader who talks about themselves and their performance constantly, you’ve might have a leader who is narcissistic. Narcissistic Leaders are completely self-absorbed and believe themselves to be superior to others. They don’t take criticism well and tend to surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear.

This is dangerous for a business’s success – and dangerous too for anyone who finds themselves working for one as they won’t hesitate to throw you under the bus when things go wrong.

If you’re unlucky enough to have a narcissist as a manager, you’ll need to consider a few things. Where am I going to get some effective mentoring and development? How am I going to manage my manager? Is this the right role or even an organisation for me?

And if you’re attempting to use principles such as Lean to improve your organisation, what will happen to your improvement programme when you need to tell the Narcissistic leader something they really don’t want to hear?

Lean Training Online

How do you manage risk and compliance with Robotics?

By Compliance, Lean Six Sigma, Robotic Process Automation, RPA
One of the hot topics for any implementation of Robotic Process Automation seems to be about risk and compliance.

One of the frameworks I see in place is to simply extend the existing compliance framework over Robotics. I can see the attraction in this – it’s less effort as you’re not changing the approach to compliance – therefore it shouldn’t ruffle (too many) feathers.

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Lean Training Online

Don’t fear Robots – fear not having Robots

By Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, Robotic Process Automation, RPA
I talk about Robotic Process Automation with a lot of customers – and one common response I find is that people are a little fearful of robotics.

The biggest fear seems to be about people. The human impact of Robotics. This is perfectly understandable – if robots can replace people – what need will companies have for people in the future?

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