A new executive appointed to lead the airline’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) team sought a move away from the waterfall approach to Agile and Scrum delivery. This was deemed necessary for the RPA team so it could deliver rapidly and build confidence in the concept and capability in the business.
Moreover, the automations enabled by RPA can be transient, which became pointedly obvious during the COVID-19 crisis. This airline, like others, was seriously affected and at short notice had to roll out extensive processes for refunds, rebooking and other remedial action.
Like other organisations seeking digital transformations and automation advantages, the airline had sought a suitable tool for several years, with an understanding that in the quest for getting more done with the same or reduced effort, RPA has much to offer. RPA, in particular, presents an opportunity to relieve people of repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
By creating a Centre of Excellence, the intention was to equip the RPA team to provide a range of automations, whether in front-office environments such as the contact centre, booking channels and refunds, through to the back-office internal processes of HR or maintenance management.
However, this could only be achieved by establishing a high-performance team with confidence in itself – and with the confidence of the business. With waterfall, creating successful automations was taking too long, spending up to six months for minor solutions. And with team members working in relative isolation, continuity was a challenge. If someone was on leave, work stopped. If an automation glitched, pin-pointing it was difficult. This meant the ‘internal customer’ experience was poor and stakeholders disillusioned by automations which were not fit-for-purpose or sufficiently reliable.