RPA

Combining Intelligent Automation Techniques for Strategic Digital Transformation

Intelligent Automation Techniques

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Tom Conti shares the four crucial areas to turn your tactical RPA initiative into a strategic Intelligent Process Automation program.


 While an organization's digital transformation journey may include Intelligent Process Automation, it is only one of the components necessary to influence disruptive organizational change. But what is Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)? At its core, Intelligent Process Automation is the tactical or strategic application of technology to automate a process. This might include loading data, orchestrating different areas of work, or automating repetitive tasks. When properly implemented, an organization can achieve many benefits by using IPA, such as reducing operating costs, enhancing the customer experience, reducing risk, or improving compliance adherence.  

The Four Areas for RPA Definition

There are four central areas to consider when defining the objective of the transformation program to evoke disruptive change. These areas include Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the automation technologies available, process excellence, and change management. When executed together, these techniques offer the greatest return on investment when implementing an IPA program to address the defined business objective. 

First, Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is a tactical approach to beginning a transformative intelligent automation journey. RPA is best suited where productivity is the primary driver, where simple, rules-based processes can be applied. Often, digital and structured inputs are utilized in RPA processes as little variation is observed within the process where it would make RPA a disagreeable approach.

Tom Conti, Solutions Consultant, Canon Business Process Services

Reengineering a Company’s Thoughts on IPA

IPA for organizations

SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) program graduate Jamie Maiers discusses the benefits of  Intelligent Process Automation and the stakeholder management challenges of implementation.

Jamie Maiers, System Analyst, Allegis Group

SIG Speaks to Amanda Slevar, SAP Fieldglass

If you can partner with a technology provider who understands the intrinsic value of time, in addition to your savings and adoption goals, you’re on the way to scale a program, and automate the repetitive tasks that are a time drain on your human capital.

 

Amanda Slevar is a Manager of Presales for SAP Fieldglass. She brings over 15 years of contingent labor management and services procurement expertise to prospective customers to designs solutions to fit their current needs, and build toward an innovative future program. Amanda is a featured presenter at SIG’s Global Executive Summit which takes place this month. The Global Executive Summit is free to all qualified buy-side practitioners and sell-side members.


What does it mean to “future proof” your external workforce management?

To me, this comes down to three core areas: People, Process, and Platform and they are all incredibly dependent on each other for success. Starting with people, if organizations are really serious about strategically managing their external workforce, they understand that people are core to making sure the experience and adoption of the program is successful. Whether that is through an internal center of excellence or via a 3rd party MSP to manage, having the eyes, ears, and hands, to be able to react to changes and growth opportunities that are going to arise with any program from the most newly deployed to a fully mature global installation.

Secondly, having a clear and simple process for procuring external talent is key to adoption, which fuels growth organically. I have had the benefit of seeing many programs start out small in scope, and through the simplicity and ease of a process that was executed begin to expand and grow just because they delivered a delightful experience, and other parts of the business want it too! No forceful, mandated rollout, just a great solution that delivers value to its end users.

Amanda Slevar Manager, Customer Success, SAP Fieldglass

SIG Speaks to Sheena Smith, Managing Director of North America, Spend Matters

What is your role and what are your day-to-day responsibilities? 

I just transitioned into a new role as Managing Director of North America. We purposefully chose a nebulous title because every day looks different for me and my role is pretty much a catch-all! Some days I'm head-down on internal company strategy (I still lead our client and commercial teams from behind the scenes), other days I work directly with our clients on anything from technology selection projects to jointly running global CPO surveys.

What is something that you wish more people knew about sourcing and procurement? 

 That it touches EVERYTHING. When I started with Spend Matters 10 years ago, I had no idea that procurement was “a thing.” I wish people thought about how their everyday items from socks to cell phones are made, built, assembled and sourced. I also wish people understood how sophisticated the sourcing and procurement process has the potential to be. It’s so far beyond steak dinners with “key” suppliers and fiddling about with spreadsheets. There's some amazing stuff happening out there with technology and process, and people are thinking bigger to drive it.

In your opinion, what are 3 skills that sourcing and procurement professionals of tomorrow must have? 

 1) Sales – Hear me out. Procurement is a sales team for a lot of reasons: negotiations internally and externally, selling new internal processes, understanding pain points of teams and suppliers...the list is endless. Being able to “sell” an agenda, a tool, a process or an initiative is key.

Sheena Smith, Managing Director of North America, Spend Matters

SIG Speaks to Pierre Mitchell, Chief Research Officer, Spend Matters

Pierre Mitchell will present at the SIG Procurement Technology Summit

What is your role and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I wear a lot of hats! I advise practitioner advisory clients on their digital procurement (and broader transformation) initiatives. I particularly like working with Center of Excellence leads! We also serve technology providers and consultants, and I help out with thought leadership (e.g., webinars) and strategy. I lead a team of analysts, but also personally help cover the Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) space and broader areas in supply chain, risk management, etc.

We’re evangelizing a concept called “Commercial Value Management” that is basically “CLM on steroids.” Finally, I’m responsible for our “Solution Map” provider intelligence benchmark and other market intelligence and product development efforts, and have been spending a lot of time videoconferencing like everyone else!

What is something that you wish more people knew about sourcing and procurement?

It’s so, so much more than cost cutting and doing deals, but rather, about intelligently externalizing the business to safely tap the power of (increasingly digital) supply markets to maximize enterprise value.  Yeah, there’s a lot of words in that statement, but it’s true! It’s the ultimate cross-functional and cross-discipline function. 

In your opinion, what are 3 skills that sourcing and procurement professionals of tomorrow must have?

The skills that are still required today: business domain knowledge, stakeholder/relationship management, supply management (strategic cost management, negotiations, SRM, SCM, risk management, etc.), market intelligence and change management.

Pierre Mitchell, Chief Research Officer, Spend Matters

SIG Speaks to Shashank Saxena, CEO and Co-Founder of VNDLY

Shashank Saxena is a presenter at the SIG Procurement Technology Summit

What is your role and your day-to-day responsibilities? 

As CEO of a software SaaS company, I spend time with my leadership team focusing on the product and obsessing over the problems we're trying to solve for our customers. I focus on making sure all of our teams – internal product management, sales, engineering and customer support – are functioning at optimal levels. I also enjoy spending time with our customers, hearing about their pain points and how they're actually using the software we've built. 

What is something that you wish more people knew about sourcing and procurement? 

Sourcing isn't just about finding the right vendor or supplier, it's about understanding the problems business stakeholders are trying to solve. Very often I see teams obsess over the solution, its features and price, rather than focusing on the problem the stakeholder is experiencing. The best sourcing and procurement teams I've worked with are strategic in their approach and never lose sight of the pain points stakeholders have throughout the sourcing process. 

Shashank Saxena, CEO and Co-Founder, VNDLY

Get Ready for the New Normal

While automation may reduce the need for some jobs, it will also introduce jobs that we have not even imagined.

I recently went back to read an article that I bookmarked a while back on the predictions for 2020. Forget self-driving cars and flying cars; Popular Mechanics magazine predicted in 1951 that every family in the 21st century would have at least one helicopter in their garage. They also predicted in 1957 that every road and street would be “replaced by a network of pneumatic tubes,” and your car would only need enough power to get from your home to the newest tube.

Dave Evans, the chief futurist for Cisco Visual Networking, actually predicted in 2012 that he'd be out of a job by this time because, as he forecasted, everyone would be able to predict the future themselves.

Automating Everyday Tasks

I wasn’t alive when Popular Mechanics made its predictions, but I was alive for the statement by Dave Evans. What I know for sure is that while his prediction for companies to make data-informed decisions is slowly coming to fruition, we are far off from a world without futurists. What amazes me is that most automation predictions were in the form of self-driving cars rather than taking place in everyday life.

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

SIG Speaks to Steve Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, College Board

Steve Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, College Board

Over a career spanning more than 30 years, Steve has held senior procurement and operations positions with large and small, public and private, and for-profit as well as non-profit organizations. He joined College Board in 2016 after serving as Vice President of Global Sourcing at National Geographic Society, and prior to that, as Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Vertis Communications, a national printer of advertising circulars and direct mail promotions. Hughes started his purchasing career at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City following five years of military service as a U.S. Army officer at Fort Bragg, NC with the 82nd Airborne Division, where he completed 40 military parachute jumps.


 

What are some examples of the challenges and rewards you experience as CPO of the College Board?

As a CPO, the perception in most organizations I have been a part of is that Procurement is a bureaucratic bottleneck which stakeholders try to go around or engage only as necessary to get tactical transactions processed.  The challenge I have faced over and over again, including at the College Board, is transforming the way all levels of the organization think about the procurement function from being a shared services cost center to a strategic resource for the organization that optimizes the value we receive from our supply chain. 

While there are rewards in seeing an organization gradually change it perceptions of the procurement function, the greatest reward is the privilege of developing a team of procurement professionals who ultimately make that transformation happen through their efforts to build collaborative relationships with stakeholders.

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

This Month at SIG - March 2019

This Month at SIG

This month our clocks spring forward and we gain an extra hour of daylight. To make the most of that extra hour, consider attending a networking event, thought leadership webinar or exploring SIG’s new partnership with Everest Group that brings delegates proprietary research, insights and analysis. Ready to get started?

Midwestern Regional SIGnature Event

March 6
Minneapolis Central Library

The Midwestern Regional SIGnature Event takes place at the beautiful Minneapolis Central Library on March 6. The event includes a great lineup of speakers from BB&T, Best Buy, Everest Group, Ontala and Virtual Operations who will present on topics that include third-party risk management, artificial intelligence in procurement, sourcing transformation strategies and how to buy digital platforms for your enterprise.

The event will begin with an executive roundtable for director-level and above delegates, while their teams take part in a training workshop on the fundamentals and frameworks of third-party risk management with risk expert Linda Tuck Chapman, who created the Certified Third Party Risk Management Program for SIG University.

To learn more about the day’s events, speakers, who should attend and to register you and your team, visit our website.

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

Getting Started with RPA

The Hackett Group, in conjunction with Symphony Ventures, recently published a whitepaper regarding Robotics Process Automation (RPA). (You may recall that Symphony Ventures conducted an excellent RPA proof of concept at the SIG 2017 Spring Summit with American Honda.) In this whitepaper, the authors provide a blueprint for selecting sourcing opportunities appropriate for RPA. Any sourcing professional worth their salt, should be considering RPA as a viable strategy after reading this statement, "Individual tasks of such processes may be fully automated with RPA, eliminating 100% of labor and up to 90% of cost. The total efficiency improvement achievable through holistic transformation using RPA across end-to-end transactional process can add up to 50% to 75% of baseline cost."

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG