Published: March 11, 2021
Published: March 11, 2021

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Marek Helps Unlock Human Talent Through Automation

When it comes to end-to-end digital solutions, our colleague Marek Smital is center stage. As part of the Robotic Process Automations (RPA) Center for Excellence (CoE) team, he is moving us toward a more connected PPG. Through advances in automation, he helps transform customer experiences and business operations, while promoting talent development. But how does it work?

The Middle Man Who Sees The Whole Puzzle

Marek first started with us as a finance analyst trainee in 2014, then spent two years as a finance analyst for PPG CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) in Slovenia. That is when he first dipped his toes into the waters of digitalization and automation.

It was thanks to the encouragement (and patience) of my then manager that I started working on hand-made automations and process improvements within our finance department.

As business analyst for EMEA in the RPA CoE, Marek considers himself a “middle man” between the core IT development team and other departments and enjoys being able to see what they do, how they do it and the challenges they have.

It puts things into perspective and removes that tunnel view we often get when we are focused on one small piece of the whole puzzle.

The Many Benefits of End-To-End Digital Solutions

Marek explains that, as almost everywhere, there are gaps between some of our tools and systems, meaning people have to step in and perform very labor-intensive tasks like copying and pasting data from one place to another, and then back again.

This is a pure waste of time and human talent, and exactly where RPA comes in.

RPA plays an essential role in the end-to-end digitalization element. This is because it is about using technology on top of existing infrastructure to automate certain tasks.

The goal of automation is to increase productivity by taking over routine, mundane tasks so we can focus on creative, analytic or decision-making jobs. All while the bots do administration and process data. It also helps boost compliance, reduce errors and save on resources.

One of the most frequent questions Marek gets from his colleagues is: “Can RPA take my job?” But for that, he has a simple answer.

The answer is straightforward: No. In an ideal world, people are working on creative, analytic or decision-making jobs, and these bots assist them with tasks that are slowing them down.

Below, Marek explains the difference between an "old school working day" and an "automation age working day".

It is Marek’s role to identify, evaluate and automatize specific PPG processes, leading the project from start to finish, including providing support after completion.

I get to be creative, come up with my own solutions and ideas, and then actually see them working in reality, which is a great feeling.

Marek explains this with a recent example of when the RPA team implemented a bot for the Export Compliance team. Its sole purpose is to read input data from incoming notifications about blocked orders in the SAP system. It then cross references them against various databases to know whether to alert a team member or release an order in the system – a task that someone used to perform 80 times a day!

Now all they have to do is to pick up the exception cases and simply finalize those.

Taking the Extra Step to Support Teammates

The RPA CoE is spread over three continents, which makes the organization of a conference call when something critical happens somewhat challenging.

It’s usually the middle of the night for at least one team member at any given time.

On the other hand, Marek says that these difficult situations made them stronger as a team.

Everyone is willing to take the extra step and stay up late or wake up early to help fellow teammates in need.

RPA is an exciting area to be in as we as a company embrace digitalization. The transformation will help support our accelerated growth while also freeing up human talent to work on more interesting and rewarding tasks.

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