Scaling an RPA automation program intelligently and effectively
In cooperation with Mindbox, Danone has consistently planned and is developing an intelligent automation program using UiPath’s Robotic Process Automation tools. Now the Citizen Development project has been launched, under which 70 business department employees from Danone’s European subsidiaries will receive training that will allow them to design, build and run RPA robots by themselves.
Danone is a global company offering products that promote healthy eating and wellness among its customers in more than 120 countries on five continents. Danone’s mission is “to bring health through food to as many people as possible.”
In Poland, the first imported Danone products became available as early as 1990, and just two years later, the company started producing locally. Today, the Danone group in Poland is more than 3,000 people working in two offices – Warsaw and Cięcina – and seven production plants located mainly in the south of the country, one of which is the Nutricia Factory in Opole.
The history of Danone’s Robotic Process Automation program dates back to 2019. At the time, the company decided it would work in this area in a well-thought-out way, without too much haste, with the idea of pinpointing the spots that were worth automating. It started with building the foundations, i.e., workshops that focused on what automation is, the optimal approach to it, and how to select processes that made ideal candidates for automation.
During the workshops, Mindbox experts demonstrated to various teams in local organizations what could be achieved with software robots and achieving what would be difficult or outright impossible. The workshops were held in branches in Poland and Western countries. Initially, they focused mainly on the supply chain and inventory management issues.
“The workshops provided a stimulus to launch the first pilot projects. Following a proven strategy, we first focused on the low-hanging fruit, i.e., processes that could be automated quickly, simply, and cheaply, and that provided excellent business results. This approach was to ensure not only a high and rapid return on investment but also to promote automation within the organization. The idea was to show everyone that it pays to implement robots because the success is easy to achieve, and the results are astonishing,” says Konrad Jakubiec from Mindbox.
Literally, within weeks of holding the workshop at Danone, the first software robots were up and running.
Further, more extensive internal training was conducted based on these initial implementations. Representatives of various business units were shown examples of the results and challenges that had to be overcome.
This was when the first internal teams were formed at Danone independently and in cooperation with the Mindbox experts to develop the automation program and scale and implement more robots.
“Organizing the automation at Danone across Europe is hybrid. The organization’s headquarters manages all UiPath software licenses, but regional teams independently decide which processes to automate and how. This structure fostered the formation of initially small teams in branches operating in European countries. These teams were already capable of accomplishing quite a lot on their own. Still, all the time, we benefited from the support of Mindbox, whose specialists assisted us and carried out more advanced automation projects,” – says Danone representative Piotr Grządziel.
In this way, the corporation has reached the point in three years when more than 100 robots have been launched, and the list of potential candidate processes has 500 entries. There is great business and technological awareness of the RPA in the organization, so it was decided to take the next step and scale up the whole project. The decision was made to launch the Citizen Development program, which aims to democratize the use of UiPath technology at Danone. The program is to be attended by 70 employees of business departments from various European branches. During training, they will learn, among other things, how to use the UiPath tools that allow building robots without the need for skills in coding.
“Such a high number of trainees results from extensive educational activities started three years ago. The company has planned the automation program in detail and is implementing it. We support the whole undertaking on the technical side and are also responsible for knowledge transfer. In this way, we are helping to build internal teams that can leverage our knowledge from numerous other projects – this would be very difficult to achieve for a company that does not specialize in RPA implementations,” – says Jakub Bugdoll from Mindbox].
In this way, the company will consistently be building and developing its competencies all the time. Still, it will do so with the support of a partner who speeds up project implementation, helps with avoiding time-consuming and sometimes costly mistakes, and is responsible for more technically advanced projects.