Choose Your Machine Wisely

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Carrying-a-Bike.jpgThere is an interesting parallel between cycling in a Grand Tour and implementing Robotic Process Automation, especially when it comes to choosing your machine. Symphony CCO Pascal Baker explains the analogy...

As an avid cyclist, I am always fascinated by the images of determined, rugged athletes carrying bikes up mountains, tires and tubes across their chests and their faces covered in road-grime and dust and etched in pain. These were the heroes of the Tour de France in the 1920’s.

Much has changed in cycling over the last 100 years: We have seen the emergence of speedier machines, vastly improved training techniques, steroids, blood transfusions and mechanical doping even, but the basic human desire to finish first on the Champs Elysees has never wavered and has driven progress and technological acceleration.


When looking at the explosion of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) industry, it’s almost ironic that the term ‘macro’s on steroids’ gets thrown about so casually, given the parallels with cycling. Just like a Grand Tour cyclist can only win with the best combination of support team, bike, wheels, tyres, strategists, management, nutritionists, soigneurs, masseurs, and sponsors, the same principle applies in any transformation project: The bike, or in this case the RPA tool, is a critical component on the journey, but it will not single-handedly deliver success.  Without the appropriate investments (in money and time) in program management, design, and testing (wind-tunnel not mandatory), you really have little chance of even getting to the finish line in one piece. Irrespective of the magic that appears to be going on within an RPA tool, it cannot guarantee success alone.

Coming away from cycling for just a moment…

When defining your RPA Transformation strategy, it is clear that to ensure success, you must first define what success actually looks like…is it dramatically improved customer experience through accelerated transactions and reduced errors? Is it significantly reduced operational costs?  Or is it tighter compliance with industry regulation? Once you have defined what success looks like, it is then essential to focus on what the journey from ‘As-Is’ (The Prologue stage) to ‘Transformed To-Be’ (The finish line in Paris) can look like. To manage this perilous journey safely, it is critical to assemble the best team you can build: You will need a strong internal team (your very own cycle team), a strong consulting and implementation partner (On the road support team), the most appropriate software tool (equivalent to the bike…pick the right bike for the right course and preferably one that can absorb bumps in the road!), and strong leadership (the best Director Sportif you can get).

“When defining your RPA Transformation strategy, it is clear that to ensure success, you must first define

what success actually looks like…”


 Let’s say you’re given a top-notch team:

If you have the choice of riding the Tour de France on a Penny Farthing (depicted on the right) or a speedy road bike, which do you choose? I believe both will finish the trip, but one of the machines will be less well engineered, significantly slower and a damn sight more frightening coming down those alpine bends in the wet, and that doesn’t even factor in all those spectators waiting for you to fail…so, train hard, have a plan, work with a world-class team, and choose your machine wisely!

2 minute read