My Journey from ERP to Intelligent Process Automation

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My Beginnings

When I was a little under a year away from graduation from college, I faced a choice on what the first step in my career would be. When faced with such a daunting question, I chose to first ask myself a simpler question: what were my passions? What impact did I want to make through my work on others? First and foremost, I enjoyed solving problems. Second, I held a strong belief that technology, when deployed and used correctly, had the power to improve my own day-to-day activities, and I believed the same held true for everyone. Finally, I found financial accounting and economics to be the most interesting classes I took throughout my education. Therefore, I knew that I wanted to solve complex financial problems, continuously learn and apply new technologies in ways that helped others.

ERP: On-Premise to the Cloud

My passion for problem solving and learning new technologies led me to my first job in Chicago as a Financials ERP consultant. Only a handful of years ago, on-premise ERP solutions such as PeopleSoft and SAP continued to be the preferred solution when an organization wanted to improve their own back office business processes, reporting capabilities, and overall operational efficiency. Not long into my career, I was lucky enough to see that when implemented right, these technologies did indeed have the capability to radically change and improve a client.

However, technology and the greater economy continued to change at a rapid pace. Companies were faced with a dilemma; maintain their existing on-premise solution(s) and a higher cost of ownership or incur high implementation cost and shock to the organization by implementing a new, more flexible and agile cloud ERP solution such as Oracle Cloud or Workday (and now SAP S/4 HANA). When I first saw my clients struggling with these decisions, I approached the question the same way that I approached my own difficult decision all those years ago. I thought that companies needed to answer a few key questions:

  • What are our organizational goals?
  • How do our options help us move towards realizing those goals?
  • How will we measure success? What are our key performance indicators?

At that point I realized that a large-scale ERP implementation was not conducive to answering such questions. It is no wonder that IT and finance executives alike struggled with the choices presented to them. At that point I realized that perhaps there were other options out there that did not contradict or oppose ERP solutions but could instead compliment them on the road to an organization moving towards its goals and digital transformation.  

Why RPA and Ashling Partners

With a new goal in mind for my career, I met with Don Sweeney and Marshall Sied for the first time to discuss Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Work. Although several consulting firms are moving towards RPA, I immediately noticed that Ashling Partners has a unique approach. Their focus is on business outcomes and not implementing a new technology for technology’s sake. Ashling offers a strategic vision for their clients based on business outcomes and they provide the education on automation, implementing and operationalizing the technology, and creating a sustainable business model. Ashling’s vision filled the gaps that I saw in my previous experiences and their emphasis on valuable and sustainable outcomes for their clients made the choice to move into the RPA/AI space easy for me.

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