Scott Robson joins Virtual Operations as Technical project leader
Scott joins Virtual Operations as Technical project leader from Accenture where he honed his skills as an accredited Blue Prism consultant and robotic process automation (RPA) consultant. At Virtual Operations he will be the technical project lead on our most innovative and challenging RPA projects.
James Swinford, CEO, “It’s great to have someone with Scott’s technical capability join us. His solid background in process automation at a leading Financial Services firm and a global consultancy will strengthen our ability to drive change for our customers through process automation.
Hiring now! Virtual Operations is hiring. If you are a skilled RPA developer looking to join an exciting and rapidly growing organisation in a fabulous sector, we’d love to hear from you!
About Virtual Operations
Virtual Operations specialises in all aspects of process automation. Virtual Operations runs leading Strategic Automation Programmes which deliver lasting shareholder value to its clients. It specialises in developing client teams into automation specialists and working alongside these teams to build maximum scale at minimum cost. Learn more at: virtual-operations.com.
In our C Suite guide part 1 we explored the 10 top tips for getting ahead with the RPA gold rush.
Most organizations cannot (and perhaps should not try to) achieve this with the existing skills base in their IT organisation and choose instead to engage an automation partner.
Once you know your level of ambition and the scale of your automation programme [for more on this look at part 1], you can apply the following nine criteria to help choose your partner:
- Truly Experienced Staff – The Process Automation industry is growing much faster than the service provider community can train and ramp-up their people. Experience in all areas: strategy, process identification, implementation / technology integration, testing and support is critical. Experienced Automation Practitioners do things very differently: they will look at solving business problems and fulfilling business needs through automation projects as well as the impact of FTE reduction. Process Automation is a relatively straightforward undertaking at the tactical level where a single technology is applied to reduce headcount within functional areas where there are groups of people performing similar functions. It gets far more challenging when automation is applied at a higher level, across multiple functions or disciplines and this is where experienced resources truly demonstrate their value. Here at Virtual Operations we have a core team that we call “The Tech Spine”. These are our most experienced technical people and they get involved on almost every project where there is a new technical challenge such as a new interface to create or diverse technologies to integrate for the first time, or a process that is failing but the cause is obscure. The Tech Spine is invaluable to us and to our clients. It is vital that your chosen partner has such a Tech Spine team.
- Dedicated Personnel for you – Experience is only worthwhile if you sustain it. Your chosen partner must commit to maintaining a named and full time A team for at least for the first 12 months. If they cannot commit to this, it will result in your programme losing of vital experience far too early.
- Established training Academy – Whether you choose to outsource, build your own capability or work alongside your partner – it is vital that a formal training process is in place. The reality is that most training is conducted ‘on the job’. This slows down the client programme and the market is becoming flooded with project failures. Even a formal Academy approach requires graduates to be supervised for many weeks, with supervision diminishing over time as the graduates become comfortable with the technology. The fastest way to learn (all disciplines) is through attendance at an intensive training Academy, followed immediately by supervised project work. As an example, within Virtual Operations the Academy is two weeks plus post-graduate supervision and we continue to pair experienced technical staff with graduates until they have more than a year of experience and have run complex projects.
- Genuine Ability to Scale – Through practical experience we strongly advise our clients to achieve rapid scale by increasing the skills and capabilities of their own staff. Leverage and scale comes from training (Business Analysts and Developers) and education (internal automation champions and business leaders). In our opinion, the optimal model is to form Joint Agility Teams by mixing experienced provider staff with client graduates and champions. This is by far the best way to transfer experience and skills and thereby achieve scale rapidly and safely. It also ensures that you are less reliant on external help over time, significantly reduces the programme cost and maximises control by retaining skills in-house. Also, staff are also being redeployed and trained rather than released. Be sure to check that your partner can support you to achieve scale in each geographic area you require.
- Joint Agility Teams– Carefully consider your partner’s ability to educate C-suite and functional leads to become Automation Champions. This ranges from building sufficient understanding of risk and benefit through to deep-dive training into applying Automation holistically. It is far more effective to conduct the Process Automation discovery process working alongside your partner. You and your staff know your processes, the culture and how to get things done, and your partner knows how and where to apply automation. We strongly recommend you neither outsource the discovery phase nor try to do it all in-house.
- Solid Methodology – All Automation Programmes of any significance will require a Centre of Excellence (COE) to be built within your Target Operation Model (TOM). The COE will cover many aspects including standardisation, strategy, governance (in close co-operation with IT), prioritization, support and even a development / resource pool. Effectively it is a low cost, but highly effective, support unit that does the work that it doesn’t make sense to repeat across the organization. The COE will provide best practice tools, checklists, templates and best practice approaches as well as build a repository of Business Objects and Process Flows that can be re-used in future projects. Check that your automation provider has a full methodology – not just tools and templates – but also approaches and best practice (eg. for strategic application of automation technologies) and that they understand how these can be built into a design that works for you.
- Technology Integration skills – Robotic technology alone is highly unlikely to meet your automation objectives. This is because it can only be applied to digital inputs and rules-based processes and most large organisations still use paper and other unstructured inputs. Whilst Robotic Technology will almost certainly play a major part, it needs to be combined with other technologies for maximum benefit. Typically, it will be book-ended by simple AI at the front and analytics at the far end to generate management information from the Robotic data. Virtual Operations pioneered integration of AI and Robotics in Automation whilst most of the market still deploys a single technology approach. Understanding the power of analytics also helps us to look at the business case for candidate processes differently; often the business case is created by a combination of indirect benefits and direct benefits. The most prevalent indirect benefits emerge from analytics. Find a partner with these integration skills and experience.
- Rigorous Support Facility – Once in production, maximum efficiency is ensured through good governance and highly efficient support & maintenance; when the robots stop working you need recovery to be as fast as possible. Support & maintenance can now be outsourced to a specialist provider. The bank of Robots will require 24/7 monitoring with rapid-response issue-escalation. We highly recommend outsourcing support to a specialist provider for at least the first 12-18 months.
- Established Consulting and Programme Management Skills – All major Automation Programmes will, by definition, be disruptive. Redeploying or removing employees is a major change that must be managed properly from the start. Communications, stakeholder management, project management and governance are all essential components, all too often overlooked in the Automation Industry. There is a balance to achieve between ‘getting on with it’ and over-engineering the programme preparation. This balance requires experienced pragmatic consultants. Equally important is the ability to adopt a strategic approach to Automation. Tactical Automation involves releasing FTE’s from easy to identify processes (often called the ‘Low Hanging Fruit’). Strategic Automation goes far beyond this and is deployed when the client organisation has confidence in and substantial experience of, process automation.
Look out for part 3 where we will explore the operational framework required to bring new automation value to life.
James Swinford appointed new CEO at Virtual Operations
James Swinford has been appointed the new CEO at Virtual Operations, leading the rapidly growing Process Automation Services business. James joined Virtual Operations three years ago from the international investment firm Fidelity where he was responsible for developing automated systems across the business to improve efficiency and risk. In his time with Virtual Operations he has played a significant role in implementing strategic and highly effective process automation solutions for our clients. Nick Andrews will move from CEO to Executive Chairman of the business.
James’ leadership role at Virtual Operations will drive growth by providing a focus on technical services, partner development and customer satisfaction. His experience will be crucial in establishing & supporting best practices and governance as well as managing and allocating our technical resources.
Nick Andrews, Executive Chairman commented: “James’ promotion at Virtual Operations comes at an exciting time. As a leader, his personal skills will allow us to go to the next stage of growth while maintaining a strong customer focus. His technical and process automation expertise will help us to deliver the right range of technical services for the process automation market. Also, his vast Automation Programme experience will be crucial in ensuring that we continue to develop process automation solutions that deliver meaningful and strategic value to our customers and prospective customers.”
About Virtual Operations
Virtual Operations specialises in all aspects of process automation. Virtual Operations runs leading Strategic Automation Programmes which deliver lasting shareholder value to its clients. Virtual Operations specialises in developing client teams into automation specialists and working alongside these teams to build maximum scale at minimum cost. Learn more at: virtual-operations.com.
VALUE TO LIFE
WRITE TO US
Virtual Operations UK Ltd
GET IN TOUCH
t: +44 2035 891 549