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Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

01 Nov 2018, 16:41

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“Automation is about logical, information flows. If you’ve got processes that are routine, rules-based and repetitive you can automate them,” says Helen Bradshaw, director of business services of Royal Mail.

Presenting her keynote ’Scaling robotic & cognitive automation across the enterprise’ at UiPath yesterday, Bradshaw said that retailers should first asses what day-to-day processes can be automated, before integrating this approach into their businesses. As she said: "Our first thing [to ask] is what can we stop, simplify and standardise? There is no point of automating something that you can then find out you can stop because that’s a waste."

"[Royal Mail] has started [automation] journey 18 months ago in business services, finance and within the HR-shared services and points of processes we wanted to automate," she continued.

Citing new research ’The robots are waiting’ by Deloitte, Bradshaw pointed to top three-pronged barriers of automation that Royal Mail resonated with at the time including "process fragmentation, clear automation vision, and lack of IT readiness." Addressing those challenges, Bradshaw has outlined three strategies that would help retailers to incorporate automation smoother into their businesses.

Focus on small to achieve big
Focusing on small, bite-size chunks, said Bradshaw, is the starting point of automation strategy planning."We started doing some automation processes but focusing on large chunks. Our learning was-start small. When you look into the bigger process, how can you be sure that small bite-sized chunks are all knitted together, and there wasn’t any ’regret-spend’?"

Embracing the trial-and-error journey
When it comes having a clear automation vision, Royal Mail takes the trial-and-error approach. As she said: "In terms of the clear vision, for me, it is about the journey. We are very clear on our journey now." Bradshaw said that the retailer is now looking at the automation in a different, more practical way. We see [automation] as a simplification of processes, system-enhancements or wider-scale system replacement."

Taking a risk to succeed
Bradshaw encourages both start-up and established retailers to take a risk by introducing automation initiatives into their businesses. "We have more than 500 years of history; we have a complex legacy, technology, architecture and infrastructure. Our technology team is very protective of their infrastructure security and stability, so it took us quite a long time to get them on board."


She continued, pointing to getting every department in the business onboard to identify areas that can be possibly automated: "We are now there, and the testament to that we have members of our technology team, who are now part of our RPA (robotic process automation) centre of excellence. We now have members of all disciplines leading [the automation] function."

Automation advise: strive for perfection
"Our most important message is that [Royal Mail]constantly evolving. We didn’t have a one-set strategy, we constantly evolved and refined our approach as we have been set up to succeed. It is a constant journey, and I’m sure we will be evolving in the months to come still."

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 10:02

Automation is coming to every part of the job market. I can see a time when in the MCs the vehicles unload into conveys and EVERYTHING is sorted automatically straight through to outward at the other end into a vehicle and away without a single bit of human contact. Their will be no opgs but only a few engineers in each centre. DOs are a TOTALLY different concept at least for the next 15/20 years. All the shareholders in all companies want robots and machines instead of staff. But what happens to society. People need work to live and feed their families. Taxes, although a pain, are a necessary part of that society. No taxes no NHS, DEFENCE, SCHOOLS, PENSION, POLICE, COUNCILS ect ect. So instead of this rush into the next industrial revolution, we as a SOCIETY, and a UNION need to sit down with the bosses and come to an agreement that suites everyone. This is why I hate people coming out with statements saying that 1000s of jobs will be made through automation. Yes they will but a hell of a lot more will be lost and eventually they will be no benefits to replace wages as hardly anyone will be working to pay TAXES and their isn't enough money to pay for them. Sorry I know on a bit, lol. :thumbup

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 10:14

What if they eventually have machines that sequenced everything to walks? That could mean either 8hr delivery spans or all DO staff go part time? More automation in MCs is bound to have a knock-on affect in DOs

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 12:01

A lot of this is a long way especially with RM's record with technology... we're still signing in/out and claiming OT on bits of paper. The holiday rota for our large DO next year is worked out from individual forms that were handed in September - with 1 guy spending most of his days on it & has taken over 5 weeks so far...still waiting to see what weeks we have got.

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 14:42

If you’ve got processes that are routine, rules-based and repetitive you can automate them


Well that's her job gone them

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 16:49

Navalron wrote:Automation is coming to every part of the job market. I can see a time when in the MCs the vehicles unload into conveys and EVERYTHING is sorted automatically straight through to outward at the other end into a vehicle and away without a single bit of human contact. Their will be no opgs but only a few engineers in each centre. DOs are a TOTALLY different concept at least for the next 15/20 years. All the shareholders in all companies want robots and machines instead of staff. But what happens to society. People need work to live and feed their families. Taxes, although a pain, are a necessary part of that society. No taxes no NHS, DEFENCE, SCHOOLS, PENSION, POLICE, COUNCILS ect ect. So instead of this rush into the next industrial revolution, we as a SOCIETY, and a UNION need to sit down with the bosses and come to an agreement that suites everyone. This is why I hate people coming out with statements saying that 1000s of jobs will be made through automation. Yes they will but a hell of a lot more will be lost and eventually they will be no benefits to replace wages as hardly anyone will be working to pay TAXES and their isn't enough money to pay for them. Sorry I know on a bit, lol. :thumbup



Maybe so maybe not but not in our lifetime

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 16:49

oypostie wrote:
If you’ve got processes that are routine, rules-based and repetitive you can automate them


Well that's her job gone them


:Very Happy :Very Happy :Very Happy

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 17:52

This kind of stuff is going to come eventually. People have been talking about it since the 1970s but its still a way off yet. When it does eventually arrive we will have far too high a human population to cope and it could get very messy. It will involve something along the lines of a national income which the Green Party has been pushing as an idea for years. The CWU is currently pushing the SWW which is another aspect of this scenario where the remaining work is shared out among those who can work. The trouble is again though that we are not at the point where the system has to change yet which is why the SWW isn't working and is just resulting in more unpaid work being completed.

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

02 Nov 2018, 18:31

Never happen. The Robots have a better union.

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

03 Nov 2018, 05:33

SpacePhoenix wrote:That could mean either 8hr delivery spans or all DO staff go part time? More automation in MCs is bound to have a knock-on affect in DOs

That's why the 35 hour week has been agreed. So it'd be a 7 hour day and possibly, at worst, a 6 hour delivery span (with some already taking 5 hours as it is now its too bad).
Mail centres will be hardest hit regarding job losses by automation. "The final mile" will always (at least in my lifetime) be done by humans.

Helen Bradshaw of Royal Mail: "If you've got processes that are routine, rule-based and repetitive you can automate them."

03 Nov 2018, 14:34

If you’ve got processes that are routine, rules-based and repetitive you can automate them,”


Here come the sex robots.

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