Innovation, Learning, Diversity & Inclusion

Building My First Bot - Valerie Yeong-Tan

Published 28 Jun 2019 by Lynn Loi

"It is never too late to learn. I feel very privileged to participate in the 4-day Bot Maker Training followed by the 2-day Bot Maker Hackathon. This really inspired me to develop new skills in robotic process automation," Valerie Yeong-Tan, Senior Learning & Development Executive, Group HR.

Say 'Hello' to Valbot!

Valerie Yeong-Tan has been with Singtel for 46 years, and has witnessed first-hand how work processes in the Learning and Development (L&D) team have evolved from being paper-based to going completely digital and now simplified through robotic process automation.

She created 'Valbot', her very first bot at the ‘Build My Bot – The Bot Maker Hackathon’ held at the Community Space at Singtel@8George, and clinched the bronze award for being the 2nd runner up in the competition.

We had a chat with her to learn more about her namesake bot and how she went about creating it in just 6 days.

Q. Tell us why you decided to join The Bot Maker Hackathon.

A. I am part of the automation team in my department. Although I’m not the developer in this team, I wanted to understand how to build a bot to bring more ideas to life by lending my domain expertise in L&D.

Q. How did you build the bot with no prior software development experience?

A. I felt a bit ‘blur’ going into this challenge without an IT background, but the coach took us through step-by-step to create a bot during the training sessions. I was able to share my domain expertise about the processes involved, and redesigning it so that a bot can execute it from start to finish.

Q. What gave you the idea for Valbot?

A. The challenge that I faced every month is to provide budget reports to all my business partner managers on the utilization of the staff training and development.

Unfortunately, even though all the data is on a digital platform, the pain that I still have to go through includes spending 4.5 hours to run 55 reports for all the different departments, which involves 385 mouse clicks!

Even then, the process is still prone to human errors such as misspelledfilenames and there might have been some reports that were not downloaded.

Q. How did you design your bot to solve the problem?

A. We were able to design a bot which required only one click to activate a chain of steps across 3 different systems and platforms, from logging into the application to running the reports, saving the reports to a shared drive, and emailing the link to the business partner managers.

Q. What were some of the benefits of using Valbot?

A. Well, it definitely brought about increased capacity as it takes just 12 minutes instead of 4.5 hours to complete the process, which means I now have more time back to do other higher value tasks. We were also able to improve quality as the bot is pretty much error-free for such routine tasks. We can also provide a better experience for our stakeholders with the improved process speed which allows us to automatically send out the report on the first day that it’s available in the system, as opposed to 10 days after in the past.

Q. What’s next for you?

A. I’m looking forward to enhancing my bot building capabilities by using my SkillsFuture grant to go for automation training.

I’m also on the lookout for potential automation use cases as my manager is very supportive of what we're doing. She listens to our feedback, and empowers us to try out our new ideas.

As we truly have a multi-generational workforce, I also feel lucky to have interns in our team who have a very positive attitude, and constantly encourage me to continue developing these skills.

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