Brian Putos, senior manager at PPG's Data Management Organization (DMO), has been working with master data and teams of dedicated master data associates for several years. Recently, one of the teams developed RORI, a data management BOT. Brian envisions the future of master data management to involve perfecting robotic process automation (RPA), which will significantly increase the productivity, accuracy and timeliness of processing master data requests.
Brian at a 2023 DMO town hall and meeting in Wroclaw, Poland; with DMO managers in Pittsburgh in 2022
Mastering the Data Efficiently
Global Data Management became a significant initiative roughly seven years ago when Brian and his teams recognized the need to "build a more centralized organization around master data." They created a specific organization and roles in the master data space, collaborating with SBUs and centralized Global Business service function.
It all started when Brian was responsible for managing finances for operations for the manufacturing plants and distribution centers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. This position gave him the opportunity to work with data in more immersive way for the first time.
"I immediately saw the tangible benefits of having quality master data. So, what we started working on as a small team has now culminated in a global footprint across seven different teams that I manage."
At that time, approximately 4000 people in the company were working with master data on a daily basis, but without an efficient or common way to manage it. Brian saw this as a tremendous, previously overlooked opportunity, as master data containes invaluable information relate to productivity, costs, service levels, or potential soft spots in operating processes of the company.
Ways of processing and analyzing all the master data had the potential to vastly improve the way we operate. We were already asking, 'How can we do this better, faster, and cheaper?' Now we have the ultimate environment that will provide us with these answers.
Brian highlights that his 15 years of experience in finance help him out a lot while presenting and implementing new projects. “We need to have a business justification and an estimate for what the company will be getting in terms of benefits in order to proceed with implementing changes.”
Master data can tell the team a lot about each customer, supplier or material and they have to make sure the proper information is being populated into the ERP, which can require up to hundreds of fields of specific and properly formatted data. All of it is managed in a very timely fashion so that "if I want to buy something tomorrow, I can have that available in the system tomorrow.”
The Spider Web of Collaboration
To ensure the DMO provides all the needed support, Brian and his colleagues evaluate master data delivered to them from teams across multiple time zones and regions.
"When I wake up, it's already afternoon in Europe, so I start my day with them and after I have dinner and wish my family good night, I attend calls with my APAC teams - that's when it's morning there! I already adapted my daily schedule to what my work requires."
Brian is responsible for a centralized team that has three frontline DMO teams, three shared service teams and business process excellence team members. In total, there are around 160 employees and contractors in seven different teams in Malaysia, China, Poland, Mexico, U.S., Canada, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania and the UK. They work together in synergy, “blended”, as he mentions, sharing knowledge and best practices from the perspective of serving multiple businesses in different regions.
It's a pretty young team with diverse backgrounds. DMO associates join us from IT, customer service, technical fields... I find it very exciting to work with such a dynamic team!
Diving into Machine Learning
Recently, one of Brian's teams decided to take master data management a step further and delve into robotics and machine learning. The project the team developed is a data management BOT called RORI, functioning on the principle of RPA.
Brian stresses that with the current ongoing project in supplier domain, properly implementing RPA will also allow for mass changes across ERPs, which will alleviate manual handling of data.
Similar innovations come with unavoidable challenges in the field of reshaping the existing teams to collaborate with the robotics, rather than performing activities that the robots can now do for them.
Nobody in their right mind wants to have an associate with master's degree or PhD copy-pasting data. That's not what PPG is about.
Brian believes that the implementation of robotics will allow not only the DMO associates but also contributors in the master data processes to apply the talents of their people in new areas. They will have to learn to work together and leverage every advantage they can from the new way of working as the global workflow solutions effort is targeting better visibility and seamless integration in intake and processing of master data.
As Brian's team only recently stepped into the RPA waters, they are still in a learning phase. “We consider the current RPA and automation projects to be the pilots of what is yet to come.”
A #PPGProud Advocate of Rising Talents
Brian, native of Slovakia, has lived in several European countries before sailing to the U.S. to chase his American dream in the early 90s. The wake-up call was pretty harsh, as Brian's stay in the U.S. began with three months of being homeless, sleeping first on a bench in New York City’s Central Park, and after that in a church. During this time, Brian realized that he would "do whatever it takes to never be hungry again".
He was hired full-time to PPG in 2000, after first coming in touch with our company through a summer internship. "I really liked the company's mindset and the environment it provided. It was a great fit with my personality."
His life experience fills Brian with passion for helping those who are in difficult life situations. All meetings with his global managers are associated with different types of charity work. A great added benefit is the tangible team building aspect of these events, as our teams work side by side, regardless of their positions at work.
I want to make sure that I'm painting and sweating next to the person that's up or down from me in the organization. I want to make sure that our people feel like we are one team. And it sure shows in our engagement.
Brian's great approach to teamwork and strong relationship building skills created a team that sticks together and follows the same goal without hesitation. “Decisions are made very quickly. We all have the same mindset, so it often happens that we barely say something out loud and it's already finished.”
When asked about what makes him the proudest, Brian doesn't immediately mention his personal contributions. Instead, he highlights that he's proud of his team and of the incredible growth he was able to witness in them throughout his career. His people feel like they belong.
“I was given an opportunity to work across functions, multiple jobs, and multiple roles. I’ve seen people who reported to me, worked with me, rise to very high positions in the organization, and to me that is a great environment.”