May 3rd 2018 PMI Chapter Event: “Robotic automation projects - Industry trends and key learnings”

Author: Edul Nakra

We are living in the new age of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Robotic Automation. We see this in the consumer product space from Siri and Alexa, to smart devices and self-driving cars. There are also several automation changes happening in back-office functions as well. How do these trends affect us, and what are some of the things that we, as Project Managers, need to know? C:UsersenakraAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsINetCacheContent.Word20180503_185525.jpg

These are some of the thoughts we explored in an intriguing presentation by PMI-Switzerland’s very own Mr. Singaravelan Thangavelu (Velan) PMP, PMI-ACP, and Mr. Thorsten Staby, Head of the Business Solution Automation for the Nestlé group.

To start things off, we covered the evolution of automation, and the distinction with AI. This is not really a recent trend – we have been “automating” since prehistoric times. What is striking these days is the rate with which we are now automating.

We saw some interesting studies where the numbers showed more automation in fact led to fewer jobs lost – and the work humans performed moved from repetitive to creative jobs.

Velan explained the concepts of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and RDA (Robotic Desktop Automation), which are terms that we find used increasingly these days. He also discussed some of the key players in the robotic automation arena.

Key implementation challenges highlighted were the Human Factor, Security and Compliance, Technology (“The Digital Divide”), and project management in a highly fluid business context. Agility and project preparation are key, as well as the application of sound PMI principles such as good process documentation, testing, and measuring ROI.C:UsersenakraAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsINetCacheContent.Word20180503_193534.jpg

Further into the presentation, Mr. Staby took questions, and explained the evolution of robotic automation that he has led at Nestlé. He provided useful insights into the different service models and support aspects when implementing such automation projects at Nestlé. Other members also shared their experiences, and there was a lively exchange of ideas in the group.

The event ended with a wonderful apéro – always welcome on a Thursday evening!