Courtesy of Morningstar's Marco Chmura, below is a transcript of his speaking session on 'Control your robots – Designing an effective RPA governance program' to Build a Thriving Enterprise that took place at RPA & Intelligent Automation Live.
Control your robots – Designing an effective RPA governance program
It’s easy to underestimate the work and time involved in satisfying the needs for RPA governance, whether your business complies with SOX or not. Marco Chmura, Director of Quality & Transformation at Morningstar will share their journey in building effective controls as they’ve continued to expand their program (now in year 3) to key processes interacting with SOX sensitive applications.
Security Administration needs
Establishing Change Management & Appropriate segregation of duties
Fulfilling Backup and Recovery requirements
And I am going to bring you one of the best, next, coming directly from Chicago, Illinois today. We have Margaret Chamorro with us, Marco, is the director of quality and transformation at Morningstar, serving the company for 13 plus years. He is responsible for driving transformation initiatives across the entire organization, specifically, to help shape and implement RPA and other intelligent automation, as well as enhance the impact of Morningstar's research.
Margaux, it's always a gift to have you with us. You are a thought leader and practitioner.
Don't find many of those, And I'm very, very grateful for you to take the time to share that expertise and wisdom for our global audience today.
Muted, my pleasure, thank you, Joe. They appreciate it and hello everyone, happy to be here.
Go ahead and share.
So, I will be talking about morningstar's, an RPA governance program.
Today, I'm gonna run through the following agenda. For those of you that haven't heard from me before, I'll give a little bit of background around morningstar and our RPA program. I'd like to run through a few recent examples of how we've applied RPA. Talk a little bit about our overall strategy, some of our next steps, and areas of focus, as well as some of the learnings we've had at the program level.
And then I'll get into a little bit about our governance program in the fact that we had to make some adjustments for sox compliance. How that's going on.
We're managing our controls, learnings from that as well can get into some questions.
OK, so just to start.
For those of you not familiar, morningstar is an investment research company. We build software products and data packages based off of the investment data that we collect, as well as our proprietary research, like our star ratings. We've scaled and expanded a lot. Over the years since we were founded in the mid eighties. We've acquired companies, we've expanded, We migrated transitioned. And of course, that's created a lot of processes and a lot of different connections that made us really great candidate. Like a lot of companies for automation.
And I think we really started to take that to the next level as a discussion topic around 2015, 2016. And it really led us to start to experiment with new things like RPA. So we began our program in the beginning of 2018.
We currently have a center of excellence approach to how we're doing our development. So we have 10 RPA developers that are fully dedicated to developing processes for the company. We also have a very skilled and effective RPA architect that helps control of our backend infrastructure, as well as helping manage the process and the developers. We work very closely with the over 200 plus process owners at morningstar.
We've established a great relationship with our process owners as a quality and transformation team to be able to help serve them in applying Lean six Sigma and other process improvement techniques to help shore up their processes in the way that they serve their clients while doing that.
There's, of course, a lot iterations and ideas and improvements that come along. A lot of those improvement ideas too.
Make a better process will involve centrally improving the technology.
But we've, once we had RPA available, we're really able to add a new tool to the toolkit that these process owners use to improve their processes. So they've been a very key partner for us.
And it really allowed us to embed ourselves in the teams a lot earlier than maybe we would have been able to without that program in place. We, of course, work very closely with our technology and product owners across the company, to make sure we're in sync with what we're doing and how we're automating.
We are a UI path shop.
We have been with UI path since the beginning will be entering our Year five contract, this coming September, so so again, we're in the middle of the year for here. We currently have 26 spots. eight, attended 18 unintended.
We're also experimenting, and also leveraging Abby flexi capture software for document understanding that we're experimenting with internal chatbots. And we're continuously evolving our approach to adapting and adopting machine learning, and AI models, and building out our functionality there, which I'll talk about a little bit more, in a bit.
We operate a lot of our bots using service accounts, which is also something that I'll talk about it.
Some of the challenges that we face, using the service accounts, allows us, to have those paths access a lot of different applications, for a number of different process owners.
We have been able to automate over 500 processes so far.
We've saved annualize hours of about 75,000 hours, which has led to a lot of opportunity to repurpose some work and get more impact Out of a lot of our key employees, but also to deliver higher quality, process, work to a lot of our customers, internal and external, and obviously also be able to deliver a lot faster.
I'll share, again, a few examples in a minute.
This is our workflow. So, real quick, pretty traditional, you know. We're helping teams identify processes, working with those process owners to try to find the ones that'll be the most impactful, helping them leverage our suite of templates to effectively document the SOP, some cases they can record it. In some cases, we'll do side-by-side with the developer, there's also a review process, There can be a kickback process, and the process isn't ideal for RPA development.
You see kinda the criteria for process selection. one of the key things we're looking for is this is a frequently repeated process, and while you eventually kind of work your way through a lot of those, there's still a lot of that fruit out there for us to find.
So, as we work with teams and help them select processes based on the amount of development that's going to be necessary, but you can also often see from the length of an SOP and the amount of process steps involved, versus how many times that process is executed. You know, sometimes the hours aren't quite worth the development. So we'll make those decisions as well. But once we get past that, we'll go ahead and develop, have a QA and sign off process, which is very important for socks purposes, and then ongoing governance for our live processes.
Of course, we're looking for processes that don't have an opportunity to be implemented.
Centrally, really need close partnership with our technology team to make sure that we're making the right decision by using RPA.
And a lot of times, things will either be, the better served in the system on enhancement is coming along, or there's just some functionality the team isn't even aware of. And this discussion prompts figuring that out.
As you can see, in the bottom, we became officially sox compliant, by working with our internal audit team, or compliance team, or technology team, to make sure that we had all the controls in place, which I'll give a little overview of a little later. But we are compliant and Q four last year.
You're the use case that I like to share, that our Investment Management team put together, which is really allowing us to manage some of our custodian updates.
You know, we do a lot of management of for funds on custodian sites. And a key activity for that is actually determining the allocations for those funds.
This is just a sample set of what some funds in Shared Classes would be. But when the investment managers do the dirty work of figuring out what the new target allocation should be, maybe a little less percentage on this, share more on that one. As well as what share classes should be added or removed.
After that process is over, there's this whole manual process that our actual investment management team would go through to log into custodian websites and do the updates.
Once we introduce the RPA to them, they were very happy that they no longer had to do that, and we're even able to avoid some of the quality errors that could come from translating a spreadsheet like this, into a custodian website. So, the steps, the bot follows, A pretty simple, get this excel file, login to the platform, do the modifications, review, and get a notification on the team that everything's been done effectively?
Another very recent RPA project we've been working on that we're pretty proud of, because it's a little bit of improvisation, is trying to figure out how better to manage interview scheduling, which is really important right now, because we've got a lot of staffing needs. And, you know, there's a lot of activity happening virtually.
So, this is the process for actually scheduling interviews with morningstar, leaders, and employees for applicants and just the complications that come with that right?
Opening up the schedule of all these and allowing the applicant to be able to pick a time, that they can actually meet.
This was a lot of back and forth, usually, between our HR operations team, and the applicant. But we went ahead and build an automated process that allows them to kind of self access a calendar that does show the availability of the people that the applicant will be interviewing with, and pick the slots that they'll be able to interview.
And this is very similar to Time Trade, which is a vendor out there that really actually helps serve some of our appointments that our sales and service team will setup.
But we actually were able to save quite a bit of money by using our RPA solution, building the interface you see there on the lower right that can allow us to interact with each other.
And actually, you can be, a, being able to customize this more using RPA versus time trade, or other vendor solution.
Actually, you can use RPA to say, we don't even want this interview, to last a traditional chunk of 30 minutes, an hour, 90 minutes, which is usually the limitations that allow the software to give you. So that's just one example of where we're pretty happy that we can end something.
We can actually have a 45 minute interview, which is a pretty common selection for some of our leaders.
So beyond those two use cases, just a little bit about our program, And kind of how we're thinking about it. And a little bit of a timeline overview here. You can see, kinda down at the bottom of the nice pyramid that we built here, that we were just, kind of applying traditional RPA in the beginning, using UI path against some structured, rule based processes. Getting some exposure to teams, showing some success, understanding, you know, where, where, you know, where we're building a good process, and where we're challenged a little bit. And then as we moved into the next year, really evolving our ability to use OCR do some document flex.
The leverage Abby flexi capture to really start to dig into some of the semi structured documents that are data and research teams work with quite extensively, even semi structured documents that are used.
You know, that apply to the investment management team, finance, HR, and being able to use Abby to help read through those documents and extract information, QA, um, and the, like.
Now, as we're moving more towards intelligent process automation, really making sure that our developers are spending a portion of their time focusing on advancing their coding techniques.
Playing around with machine learning models in Python, finding use cases for unstructured data, that we can really kind of sink our teeth into, even looking into some POCs. We can apply with some vendors that are out there that I'm sure some of you have heard of.
So we're really starting to think about how can we take advantage of intelligent bots and apply them in some of those areas I talked about, I think we'll see a lot of opportunity in customer service as well. Which is an area that we've been able to apply RPA and have some pretty good success.
And, you know, being able to manage that, all the different cases.
And information that's coming into our, our support reps, and especially the cases and tickets that get escalated down to our software and data collection, teams, that really need a bug fix and, or need something done. The opportunity to leverage bots to just improve that workflow is pretty much limitless Salesforce, which is what we use. Obviously, as some AI capabilities that we could pay for. But it's a little expensive. And our Salesforce structure doesn't necessarily aligned right Now with, with probably some of the capabilities of Einstein. So before we get into a more bigger solution, like leveraging a vendor solution like that will experiment on our own a little bit and see where we're going to make the most impact before we jump into another vendor. or even take advantage of the offerings that UI path hats.
And then you see a little overview of kind of how information extraction has evolved, which is obviously the key focus of our developer team, and really being able to improve our ability to identify.
Oh, and at the bottom, you see a few AI models We've been exploring.
Text classification and information extraction, Microsoft.
I wanted to talk a little bit about how we're thinking about our ..., as well, and really evolving the way that we manage some of the work.
I will admit there, there are some challenges here with dealing with so many, you know, input from so many different teams managing, in some cases, you know, a pretty volatile backlog which can change across teams. And, you know, there's, there's a number of different ways to measure our capacity, our developer availability And, you know, all the projects that we have to work through. So we've been shifting to a biweekly sprint model. so we can be a little bit more predictable. And just to give you a little insight into how we're doing this, we're working in two week sprints.
And we're, we're basing a lot of our progress and trending off of the goals that we have.
Of course, you know, we have annualize our goals, we want to be able to bring as much impact from RPA as possible. So we're averaging out how many hours we feel like we could do each Sprint and working against that.
This is a new model, so our accuracy is a little bit off, sometimes with commitment and delivery, but we learn a lot from what can distract us from straight new project development. Actually, when you look on the right here, and you see, and this is just an example of a Sprint estimate, that can really give us, as the RPA leader group, as well as our key stakeholders. A better idea of what capacity is being dedicated to. Actually, right now, we have three open deb roles that we're working to, staff in our Mumbai RPA office. We're kinda always working through RPA. Development needs almost. You know, it's, it's obviously a pretty hot roll right now. And we need to do all we can to keep our current developers happy, but also to find new talent. But while we do that, of course, there can be some periods of time, where our developer licenses are unused. Or we're a little short on capacity. So just being able to illustrate that.
Understand how it impacts our sprints, or ability to deliver, more importantly, let our stakeholders know.
And also, being kind of thoughtful in, what can we do to reduce our maintenance costs, and the amount of time that we spend outside of working on new projects.
You know, we think of things like focusing on larger, more stable projects.
We hope that AI will help bring focus to larger projects, and really help teams think about some of the bigger wins that we can have.
So that, know, we're not, like, I mentioned earlier, building these long processes that maybe only satisfy a few hours a quarter for a team, but can have a lot of maintenance costs, and then issues, too, and disruptions for the team. Or RPA, is it really as great an experienced as it could be, and focusing on the better ones?
We can reduce maintenance costs and issues by having more input and awareness from our product and tech owners, as well as the Army process, and tack owners.
We sent constant reminders out to be letting us know about system changes, be cognizant of anything that's happening with your input files or your interfaces, even tests running some RPA in advance when we know there might be issues, especially if it's a quarterly process. That's critical and blast orders. We've had some issues. How can we get out in front of that? How can we use dummy data to test at each quarter to make sure nothing about the fields changed, or again, the input files?
So some good ways for us to kind of reduce that gray slice that you see there.
And finally, how can we leverage APIs?
You know, we do a lot of development right. At the interface level.
Salesforce, I mentioned, you know, navigating that Salesforce is actually, has an interface upgrade, Salesforce lightning, that a lot of our teams are individually moving to at different tiny.
So it can create a lot of disruption to our workflow if we need to stop existing or start new projects and work on something existing, because, you know, there's an interface adjustment like that needed.
Oh. And finally, another one that's popped up is deaths of getting our single sign On to Go. And there's a lot of new security needs.
And, you know, when we have service accounts are running around doing things for Morningstar, when a change like Okta or single sign on or anything to authenticate users to login?
And I'm sure you've all been kind of receiving text alerts on your phone so that it authenticates to your computer that creates problems for RPA. So, working with our tech team to make sure that we have solutions or exceptions in place before these new systems get release, so that we can make sure that we're out in front of things and not not dealing with disruption to our process owners workflow.
So I wanted to, to just kinda summarize some key learnings at the program level before I shift over to talk a little bit about our governance model.
Um, so, the first thing that I have here is around, sir.
First thing I have here is around the vendor selection process, right. And this is actually something that, as a company, we're trying to improve, build a framework for. That's also a lot of value my team can bring, is helping bring cross functional groups together that work on a process.
In this case, procurement, you know, technology finance and stakeholder teams.
And develop, what should be the standard approach to navigating that process, in this case, vendor selection, and then having that standard in place and expectations set and roles assigned, right. When you get into a vendor selection process as opposed to down the road.
In this case, for RPA, you know, you can be very thorough in evaluating all vendors out there, taking advantage of research out there, and whatever your company is aware of, and procurement teams, and then shortlisting it based on criteria that you have for yourselves.
Before, you kinda narrow it down to a few vendors, you know, based on discussions, cost, availability, and do a proof of concept, and then, get ready to base off of the results. You know, make your final selection and get started, And when you do get started, you always want to start small. Don't expect to die out and get into. The workflows of a bunch of different teams, does your overwhelming yourselves. You definitely want to, you know, show some results with one team, Ideally, a team you're already closely partnered with, if you're a centralized separate team, so that you have some connections and you can really, you know, get a good rhythm going right off the bat. And then, once you show those results, start to build bridges among those teams. You know, we'd love to be connectors of teams that are leveraging these technologies and frameworks.
And kinda have them, you know, scale up on their own.
Always be a key partner with technology.
I would say this is one area that we weren't 100% on top of, because I think our technology team, which is huge and vast, of course, but even at the leadership level, you know, wasn't always completely familiar with what we were doing.
So, you've got to be number one aligned with them.
And you've also, number two, once you do that, have to kind of have a rapport in that dialog, like I talked about earlier, to evaluate tradeoffs and make sure that you're evaluating the system of record and opportunities to develop centrally. Or you apply RPA. And that you know of, you know, technology decisions and future technology things on the roadmap that are going to impact RPA.
And finally, and most important, engage leadership while working through teams. The worst thing is, when you're making all this progress down, the weeds of some teams that are doing some good things, but leadership isn't aware, that really limits your ability to scale. And, of course, you get more support and buy in.
And, Alexi, that last point is key to, I mean, how can we tie in automation to our performance goals? And, we had the similar idea around Lean, right? Like, a team can be dedicated to Lean process improvement. But, if it isn't in their performance goals, you gotta question how much.
they really are dedicated to it. And that usually ends up resulting in maybe not getting as much.
As much out of it, obviously, as you could have it as part of your goals. And finally, you know, look outside for help. Partner with your vendor. Make sure that you're meeting regularly with your vendor, obviously understanding what's coming down the pipe. But also getting their input on how your program is being run.
What opportunities you have to adopt new technologies.
And also get maybe some, some events going.
So, what we've done actually a morning Star, which I've shared before because we haven't had, we haven't been able to schedule a live event yet, but we're talking about it now. And we'd love to do that again.
But we actually had UI path common presents to Morningstar a few times and share an RPA awareness session. We even had a few design, a bot sessions in Chicago, and our Mumbai office where we had UI path. Leaders come in and actually, for folks that don't do, obviously, regular RPA development to get a little flavor of it by experimenting And building a few bot processes. And really learning how it works. And then finally, we had an RPA fair championship, which is a great way to engage teams, engage folks not aware of RPA. We had this one at the bottom right there in our cafeteria. And we had a lot splay setup with teams could showcase their success, talk about RPA and become advocates for the whole effort.
We also participate in an RPA roundtable, I've participated in a few, and I, you know, I love conferences like these so that we can make connections and we can learn what each other are doing.
We've been connected with Discover Financial here in Illinois for awhile. And what we were doing on a continuous improvement front. So it was natural for us to talk about the fact that, we're both getting into RPA around the same time, and they actually were, nice enough to co-ordinate an RPA Roundtable, which we still have today, and a number of different companies participating will get together and talk about, what, what I'm talking about today, RPA and IAM.
What this whole conference is about, and how we're applying governance design our tracking, our success, identifying processes, and what our models are if anyone's venturing into new tools. And we'll even have some focus sessions.
Or, for some of these, include, our company can give a little overview of what they're doing.
So I am, I'm a big advocate of, you know, reaching out to colleagues in other companies.
You know, understanding what's happening outside your world.
So that was kind of catching us up on morningstar.
I'd like to spend, the rest of the time, talking about, our governance plan, and why we got so wrapped up into becoming soc certified Because it actually was a decision for us.
I wish we would have gotten into it earlier because it's very important, obviously, for us to be able to leverage RPA across our financial reporting processes, as well as just some other areas that are very, you know, bound by sox controls.
This was very important, because as soon as you have, you know, RPA being leveraged for those, we have to make sure that the proper, um, restrictions are in place, that everything is being managed properly. So we had finance Apple for awhile and we're really happy.
We've been able to open up the gates, because they have a lot of good processes coming in, and I'll share a simple example in a bit, but this also allows us to minimize the risk of unauthorized, or unintended actions by the bots being very diligent, Organized in the way that we have our sign off process in the way that the developer handles the SRP information.
Codes, It presents the code to the process owner, get sign off, before putting it into production, and not touching it, unless there's another adjustments submitted.
To make sure that everything the bot is being told to do is being properly filtered through from the Impacted Teams stakeholder teams. This, of course, is a low risk, but having controls in place does minimize our security risk of any unauthorized access to the RPA.
So there's 13 general controls for IT, for IT sox compliance.
They cross security administration, change management, availability of data. I'll go through a quick example that'll help you get a better understanding of what these are.
But, we basically had to, you know, ask a lot of questions and work very closely with our compliance team, to understand what these controls words, that we have the right administrators in place.
That, we were sure about our RPA user isolation. That the developers were well managed.
That, we were properly testing. Like, I talked about, that, we have backups and DR in places as well.
So, I'm gonna just kinda give a quick process example. You may have seen this before, but it's nice to, kind of jog your memory about how these controls work. So, this is a simple process and you know, very applicable across many companies, but for morningstar, this is our contract billing entry process. And, you know, very manual in that.
We have a set number of analysts over the years that are just logging into Salesforce, opening up all our different contract billing forms, and then translating the information over to Oracle.
So very manual user entry, and very volume is, so this is quite a time consumer. And even after that, we'll actually have a validator review and then a different validator approve. And that's kinda prior to any involvement of RPA or anything else, that's where the control really is important is that, is the, is each contract gone through the process correctly.
Well, once we were able to introduce RPA to this process, we could knock out those first five steps, you know, not not to super surprising, but we now have the bot doing all of those steps.
And then we just kept in those last two to make sure that we're still doing the manual needed work, too, to sign off on the contracts, which is much quicker now on. And we've saved a ton of time on this process so far.
And it helps, obviously, expand into other areas where we have contract billing, going on, a number of other finance processes. But what I do want to share here is how these controls really helped with that simple process.
So when we think about security admin, all three folks involved, which is the bott developer, the process owner, and the RPA, or the bot itself, the developer and the process owner, they all now have their access reviewed in the beginning when they get access to that bar code. But then every quarter, we're not going through a whole access review process.
We now have all the passwords, complying with standards, so prior to the socks controls, we actually were a little bit loose in the way we were managing password, so we clean that up after applying socks controls. We also now have all of our source code reviewed and restricted to appropriate devs, and we put in Fire Call Access to make sure that, that, that is monitored and that no dabs get access to code that they're not supposed to be.
See, when it comes to change management, we actually put detective monitoring in place using Jenkins and it ensures that the process owner signs off on any code before it goes to production. Which is a key.
You know, kind of a key control in place, especially when we're dealing with anything that impacts financials, that we're sure the process is doing what it was supposed to be doing. And that we have evidence retained in case there's any issues or questions down the line.
And then, finally, do we have proper availability of data?
Do we have a server in place that is backed up and is tested annually? and is our restore process secure and tested?
So that the cross, that one process, you can see where the controls come into place and how we really kinda shored up what we were doing with RPA prior to having sys controls in place.
That might sound like a lot of work. So whenever there was manual effort involved, we made sure to see if we can apply RPA to aid in us, executing those controls and doing those quarterly reviews.
So, actually, dumping data out of the UI path Orchestrator which houses all the, the bot and code information and comparing it to our Jira instance.
We use Jira to manage all of the different project requests that we get, the stages they move through, the SOP documentation, the process owner, but also the process for signing off, when did it happen, was there a sub task associated with it, et cetera? Process owner approves this.
Um, so, we will actually just dump all that data and do a comparison to make sure that all access is still where it needs to be, and the bot will quickly kick out any exceptions that need to be reviewed.
Exceptions could be, because somebody moved teams, or they change, company, they left the company, you know, usually other controls or catch that, but this is a good kind of final review.
Automation for adding new users to access the robot. You know, this user access and this official kind of tracking users was a little more formal prior control, so having the bot do that for us is great.
Same with that, removing inactive employees, checking Workday, being more cognizant about passwords, and missing QA tasks, and then, like I mentioned, user position changes.
When we think about all the work that went into that, some ways that we can, no, probably could have done it better, some key learnings. So, first is, you know, how can we start thinking of controls earlier?
You know, what are some of the ways that we can, data ourselves up, so that when we have to put controls in place? Where if we weren't going to have to go through the, the big effort that we went through, and maybe what even could have been bigger. Having centralized development, which we did for the most part prior to controls, but we even had to shore up a few outside development teams. Just to make sure everyone was in this proper Center of Excellence. That was managing RPA across the board, consistently, and with those standards in place. So if you have the opportunity to centralize and, or at least keep good track of all of your development resources, that'll go a long way in helping you establish those controls.
Talk governance in your program from the outset, set realistic expectations for how much you're going to be able to put in place when.
There's a lot of time that goes into it, and there's a lot of no need to be, uh, properly established before scaling out to so many teams and having so many different ticket's end users to manage.
So, having, you know, having some, some idea in place of how you're going to manage all that from the beginning is key.
Talk to other teams, you know, for us, we were very kind of ignorant to controls and all that goes into this and having good governance in place.
So, there was a lot that we could learn from other teams, like managing Salesforce, which is a socks application, managing Oracle and access to those, and all of the backend infrastructure controls that need to be in place.
So, we were really able to get a lot of feedback, input, and materials from those teams in advance. And, you know, I actually probably didn't even caught up with them earlier, so these are all learnings that we get. And then, finally, ensuring good ownership and commitment.
If you have an opportunity to isolate an RPA architect, that can be responsible for governance, whether it's there for all, or just partial role, that will be key in making sure that, you know, we're not doing this and piecemeal and that it's tight, he did a great job of creating all the documentation, keeping everyone on track.
It's easy to lose track of where the compliance team is in reviewing and reviewing your controls, documentation, and checking on things, especially when they have somebody responsibility.
So having a good project manager in place was very helpful, and making sure that your stakeholders and your teams are involved, right. The more that the teams are bought into RPA and are engaged, and they own the prioritization, and the reviews and the sign off, the easier it's going to be to apply these controls.
Because there is a lot of kind of participation necessary from the participating team. So, you know, I talked about the Roundtable, we have with some other companies, we also have a lot of internal committees across our teams where we meet regularly, not only to talk about the list of projects opportunity we're working through, but also to talk about controls. Make sure they're being managed effectively and make sure everyone's aware of what they're supposed to be done.
So that's a pretty much a wrap hopefully that gave you a little bit of background around the Morningstar program, where we're at some of the things that we're working on Boeing as well as how we set up our governance program and some of the controls that we put in place.
So, I'll go ahead and stop and we can now jump in any questions if you have them or you can always feel free to reach out to me directly.
Marco, always a masterclass, thrice Strategic, Tactical. Really appreciate the coverage. We have questions coming in here, that, I'm going to share with you. And, what I'm first of all, congratulations on, on the, on a terrific journey there, and Morningstar. And, and, and, of course, you're very articulate in the way you share that journey, And, there are a lot of questions, that came up, during this last three days, on, this conference related to, how to deal with unstructured data, versus structured data RPA, versus intelligent automation. And, there was like, this one pyramid that you had, there had a lot of, answers to those questions early on, And you provide a lot of very helpful insights throughout. So, we're all very appreciative of that.
William Fuller has a couple of questions, here.
William is A cross industry, leader of improvement in innovation, deep experience, and expertise. Always asking very insightful questions. So, great to have you with us, William and engaged.
And the first one is related to, when you had your, your, your flow of, how you do, the, the, the RPA development and you had, he comments that it's interesting to see the SOP documentation and review called out in that workflow, is it conceivable that RPA and its cousins can exist without standardized work?
And the, and he asks because some leaders seem to resist investing in standardization efforts.
And so, I think the way I interpret this question here is that it's standardized work necessary for RPA to flourish or not.
That's a great question. I think it's something, you know, we even ask ourselves, because we don't want to do too much overkill, you know, in order to have a well automated process. But, at the same time, I really do believe that standards are incredibly helpful.
You know, we've done a lot of what I talk a lot about, our lean program, and how much standards we worked to apply for teams that manage processes. I mean, one of the best standards in the beginning is actually who is the process owner Who owns this process, right? You can ask that question and get a lot of answers from people or you can just get a blank stare.
So, having a standard for a process owner in place for key processes is one that we've been trying to apply for years, you know, building out that process owner role. And when you are a process owner, we really expect that you're very cognizant of the workflow involved in your process and participants.
And we even very much have always encouraged process documentation to help, You know, obviously guide, you know, nobody really follows an SOP while they do a process. But for new employees in, for, when, there are, challenges, and adjustments that need to be made. It's a super big help.
When you translate all that to RPA, we would love to well, number one. We'd love to take advantage of process mining, and any kind of recording technology out there, so that we don't even have to go through the manual kind of step diagnostic process and the information that needs to be created.
Now, we're not really at the size, that we're going to take advantage of something like that, yet, and I don't think we really justify the cost for it. Nor have we reached a point where we necessarily need that to identify processes.
But I do find that to be maybe a valuable way to avoid kind of the documentation that we've been talking about.
We did experiment with videos, just take a video of your process, you know, that's not really a standard, right? That's just a way to share with the developer to do a side-by-side. Our developers are located in Asia, so sometimes there's some time differences, But we'll make connections and have a developer actually watch a process owner.
But really, over the years, I found nothing beats just having something, at least loosely, well documented and asked, and we do have a standard in place for that. We have a template that we use for RPA development.
It really helps our developers understand the process.
It helps you, there's so many times our developers see a better way to run that process, you know, to avoid using a macro, or to avoid accessing so many different applications, because they were able to see it laid out versus seeing it may be done on a screener, or something like that. And then finally, it's very helpful when there's issues down the road, right, and when there's maintenance necessary. And, if, like, Salesforce, interface changes. If you have a nice layout with screenshots, information around the steps that you can work off of, and it's the new developer that didn't develop and originally all of this will make your program a lot more stable.
Absolutely. I mean you touched on so many critical points there. We can talk about each one of them for hours, Process ownership, and centralization on a sensitization along. I'll actually disagree with William. I actually think the most teams, they come together, they realized that we should standardize.
The issue is that there are six people sitting around the table. And everyone say, we should be standardized my way. And the way I wanted to do it. And, and that collaboration, as you said, to, among the parties, to come up with, with an eye standardization that we can agree on.
And then, you know, from a Lean perspective, you know, before you automate, you should always eliminate and reduce that unnecessary complexity before we jump into that automation step.
Following up on this, do you, when you're The perception. Of course, your presentation is very focused on compliance.
And and then the question that came up during a presentation, is that, when you, when you're designing and implementing RPA projects, are you function? Are you focusing on functional? Or are you focused on compliance?
Much, much more function, I mean, you know, compliance restricts you in certain ways, of course, and you have to be very cognizant, like I said of having the right people with Access the right process for handling and releasing the code and doing testing and whatnot.
But when it comes down to it, our main focus is, like I said, the returns we're gonna get from this.
The, and that can be, of course, the main one is the hours saved. The hours to actually hours given back this, What we like to say right now are getting back to the employees, so they can do other things.
But, yeah, so that will be, uh, you know, kind of like the quality and speed to process weight is that, that will get.
So, yeah, Then, Marco, you may have mentioned this, or, I certainly have experienced this in your previous presentations, and but the audience in this specific context may, not know, that just gives them an order of magnitude. I'll actually, how many hours have been automated because they did. The numbers are quite impressive.
Yeah, so annualized, we've been able to automate all about 65,008 utilize our saved, and we can do some return on investment calculations with that, which I won't get into.
But they're obviously based on the amount of money that gets put into it and that's both from the salaries involved, as well as, the licensing costs and all the inputs that go into setting up an RPA Program. Again, solve those annualize hours saved based on the location that they're done.
Salaries of those employees in those locations are really get some good ROI, which we're seeing some good returns greater than three times or investment to date, and that scales up pretty fast.
So, you know, we'll, we'll, we'll definitely measure, yeah, measure in that way. We can, you, Can you repeat the question again?
No. No, you got it. That was the question is of the order of magnitude, how many hours, 65,000 hours is a lot. That's right, six back.
And then about another 10000 of one-time use, so we keep track of, because not all processes are, are going to be repetitive. We have done a few projects that are really just, for one time use, we had to get out of an application where we're retiring or use a quick base. And we realized that there was no way to avoid point. You click export hang of all our attachments in there for you.
Retired it. And the vendor wasn't willing to, could, they could build a way for us to export everything at the same time and put it in this folder. So we had to go through to be a very manual process. So we decided to build RPA to do all that extraction. And it was quite a decent effort to put the process together, but it's a much more hours than the point and click. So that was a one-time savings. And that's just an example of one will track those hours to it.
And we've saved almost 10000 hours on one time project. So yeah, we've made we've made a ton of gains. We've been able to, you know, give a ton of time back to some very strapped operational teams, especially in our investment management HR teams, that interview scheduling, it's still being well received as we're having more and more interviews and becoming more and more common right now for us to get more applicants going.
Wow, That's fantastic.
And that that was actually a question that, that, that, there was a follow up, I believe you're just answer. What? What are you doing with all the redirect, the labor and the additional capacity. It sounds like you're making good use of it and productive uses.
Yeah. Yeah, you know, I mean, you know, a lot of us are scaling right right now. You know, a lot of, a lot of kind of openness, there's a lot of movement happening.
So, know as much as you can, even in some ways, you know, save and open roll and repurpose folks because you're able to automate something, especially when you're in a lot of shared service center, type work.
That can be a great opportunity to take advantage of growth or attrition in a smart way.
And 1 quick 1 here, just to wrap up. There is this overall theme about, you know, first of all, thank you, great job presenting this. Very effective implementation over time. Really good job by you and the entire team, and the audience, just curious about how you influence senior leadership. Specifically, the ones who are sponsoring this type of work.
Tell us a little bit about, how did you, how did you win their hearts and minds about RPA?
Sure, it's still still trying to win in some ways. You know, it's, it's a, it's a never-ending fight.
I think, you know, the bill, you know, I can't help but make parallels to lean and continuous improvement efforts, right? But when you have big wins within teams and they can hear it from the mouths of their own employees or employees that they work with. And they can see real life use cases, that the most powerful thing, right?
So, so there's that.
as much as we can broadcast the success we've been having, the better.
bring in experts, if possible. You know, have we connected some of our leaders with members of UI path? So they could have conversations themselves?
UI path offer, and I haven't done it yet. And I think this is a great idea that they wanted to connect. We will do this, build a connection between our finance team, and leaders, and their finance team and leaders.
To show, for UI path to explain how faith, eating their own cooking and applied RPA to their finance processes, so that they can just kinda having shared what we are the RPA company. And we do the same payment stuff you guys do. And this is how we've used RPA.
Um, so, you know, as much as you can build collaborations with your leadership team and then, you know, do awareness sessions. A lot of times, You know, leave my my team.
Kind of our focus can get sometimes distracted. So when we go, Wow, without marketing RPA talking about the winds sharing with leaders getting even if possible or CEO to talk talk about it briefly in a town hall getting blurbs on our internal website, well here it right, well, I haven't heard about RPA. While it's going on and that's, that's a negative, right? So as much as you can be your own marketing department and even get help from internal communications to keep broadcasting the message, I think that's a great way to win hearts and minds over time. You know, and it's, it's, it's unique, It's something new.
So I think, you know, even if there's resistance to automation, there's just something about it that you can't, you can't quite argue with when you see results.
Great advice, Marco.
On behalf of our Global community, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. Such an articular presentation of the key of the key strategies and tactics, we very much appreciate your taking the time to do that for us.
Oh, absolutely, my pleasure, glad to be here, and I hope you all take care, and good luck, the rest of the year, and as we all kind of, get back into. I guess, hybrid office settings, which will be interesting, as well.
But, yeah, thanks, and so they take care, and have a great week.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen that's, that was Marco, Tamara, Director of Quality, and Transformation, and Morningstar, what a wonderful way of completing our journey for our RPA, and intelligent automation. It's been a true pleasure to be your host for this three days.
We've brought 12 cross industry, global leaders, and experts. In this area, we attacked culture, we attacked RPA. We attacked intelligent automation from multiple perspectives. And we were better off as a result of your rich engagement, insightful questions. So I want to wrap up by reminding you that our next conference is Beatles. Enterprise Architecture Live will take place July 13th through 15th. Make sure that you sign up for that so that you guarantee your spot as a registered participants.
I want to thank, again, our sponsors, Blue Prism, BPM, D, and UI path for allowing us to have access to this high level content and no cost. We appreciate that.
I want to thank VJ Bizarre. Who is the CEO of ... Digital for create an environment where a great people and great ideas can connect like this environment on a global scale and off course, Brian raffle, the comfort produce conference producer and real engine behind all of this. He makes it all work seamlessly incredible amount of work in detail and an intelligence that that goes into producing an event of this scale. And I wanna thank you all for staying with us for three days for participating, engaging, and enriching every one of our sessions. You can go onto LinkedIn. I'm going to be posting an update this afternoon on the, on this session that I already know that has this conference under my name on LinkedIn.
So there'll be a little brief and pictures from the conference and also, feel free to add any comments Likes, shares on that account, and, and, And then, share your perspective.
Share your questions if you have them, and again, thank you so much for being with us. So whatever you are in the world. Have a great rest of your day, have a great rest of your week, stay healthy. And we look forward to meeting you again soon in another virtual conference. Thank you very much.
Director of Quality & Transformation,
Marco Chmura is Director of Quality & Transformation at Morningstar, whose mission is to create great products that help investors reach their financial goals. Marco’s spent the past 5+ years helping Morningstar achieve that mission by developing a process mindset and client-centric culture by championing the voice of the customer and mentoring/guiding leaders as they manage LEAN Six Sigma and Agile development projects. For the past year and a half, he’s also been responsible for helping Morningstar enhance the customer experience through the adoption of emerging technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, AI, ML, Chat, etc.
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