Think of a repetitive, time-consuming task you’re doing every day – copying a file, extracting data, renaming something – then ask yourself, why aren’t machines doing that for you? Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is our opportunity to automate low-value, repetitive tasks. How? By empowering business technologists – putting technology in everyone’s hands – not just to use it, but to build it.
When Computer Science Engineer, Francisco Igor Paniagua Anguiano joined the company five years ago, he’ll be the first to admit it was a challenge – to go from being co-founder and head of a successful start-up in Mexico, to working his first corporate job with others in the driver’s seat.
“I am an entrepreneur at heart, not an engineer,” shares Francisco. “When given the opportunity to lead a brand new team this year [the Robotic Process Automation team], instead of thinking of my team as a group of technical resources under the IS structure, I reverted to my entrepreneurial ways and chose to think of us a brand new start-up within the organization.”
With a new challenge to develop a program that brings automation to every corner of the organization – not hundreds, but thousands of new robots empowering our people to work smarter, not harder – the citizen development journey began.
There are thousands of tasks and processes that should be automated across our business – too many for IS to tackle alone. In partnership with Microsoft, Francisco and his team are piloting two end-state products across the company as part of the Citizen Development program – Bot Wars in a Box and the Smart Self-Service Portal.
RPA is a low or no-code tool that requires minimal training and creates a space for people to solve their own problems. Using MS Power Automate Desktop, the automation of low-value, repetitive tasks allow us to focus on the work that people need to be doing. The partnership with tech-giant Microsoft gives us access to the best solutions, proven in industry. It allows us to learn from other customers who have come before us and gives us a sense of global scale.
“The Citizen Development program is about making it easier to do the right things – enabling anyone in the organization to automate the work the machines should be doing,” shares Marcie.
Relentless collaboration to advance and evolve the technologies that will take us into the future of energy is key to our success. The Citizen Development program will enable every member of our organization to make a difference in this space, empowering every employee with the tool for continuous improvement.
Canada Gas was the first to partner with IS and embark on the pilot of Bot Wars. In February, 16 participants were selected, broken into seven teams and challenged to look at a process in their daily work and ask, is there a better way of doing this? In four weeks, the teams delivered seven new bots to eliminate low-value tasks that do not require human effort, saving the company time and money.
“The teams were given a risk-free environment where it’s okay to fail, and fail forward, to create new innovative ways of working,” shares Ana Villarreal Escudero, Canada Gas Operations, Environment and Sustainability.
After weeks of ideation, design and production, the teams participated in a Dragons’ Den/Shark Tank-style – presenting their final bots to fellow participants and the judges – a group of senior leaders from across IS and Canada Gas.
“Every single one of the ideas generated in Bot Wars is incredible,” shared Jawad Masud, Senior Vice-President, Operations, Engineering & Project Execution and executive sponsor of the Canada Gas Core Innovation Network. “This is what innovation is all about – creating a space for everyone to be creative, think outside of the box and drive continuous improvement – making time for everyone to have an opportunity to improve the way they work and deliver results for the business, especially for our customers.”
“If Citizen Development is successful, the IS department can look very different in a couple years,” shares Francisco. “The program is a catalyst for something much bigger. We will no longer be the gatekeepers – the business will embrace technologies with confidence and our team will put the right guardrails in place for them; it will just become easier and easier.”
By the end of the year, Francisco hopes his team will be ready to roll out their products across the organization.
TC Energy, Director, IS Product Delivery Canada
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