Kmart Group is working towards the third and final ‘horizon’ of a three-year strategy to embrace process automation that has so far saved it $1 million in costs.
Automation practice owner Keldo Gliana told UiPath’s ‘reboot work festival’ last month that the group had set “the right ambitious” process automation goals for Kmart and Target when he joined in October 2020.
“What the business needed me to address was the automation strategic architecture and the associated roadmap, and this is what I focused on [from] day one,” he said.
Gliana said the overarching goal was to free the time of subject matter experts (SMEs) within both retail businesses, so they could focus more on “improving shopper experience [and] optimising internal resource allocation.”
He said the program of work is set to run for three years, covering three “horizons”, two of which have been reached.
Under horizon one, Kmart built a small team of automation developers, created a development framework, and built out a platform based on UiPath technology.
“For horizon one, we were KPI’ed to develop 45 automations for the business and we exceeded that,” Gliana said.
“We developed and released just over 60 automations, saving just over $600,000 for the business.”
Horizon two targeted the creation of automations “for HR, finance, IT and merchandise, and a few other lines of business.”
The aim was to “build an ‘automation flywheel’ for process automation, “to become an enabler for the business to gear subject matter experts to develop [automations] for themselves.”
“When we started the [automation] team, we were three people, and since we have grown to nine - a combination of engineers, developers and leads - but there is no way a team of nine people can develop automation for the whole business,” Gliana said.
“In order for us to be able to develop and release automation for the whole business, we have to be able to scale, and we can only do that by enabling other people in the business to come and develop on our platform.”
Gliana said the program has so far delivered “over $1 million” in savings to Kmart Group, which had exceeded internal expectations.
He said the group is now chasing horizon three, which aims to make use of AI and machine learning to “do the thinking and the learning for how a particular business process works” and potentially “handle complex decisions”.