A program that is easy to apply, delivers quick victories for the company and its employees, and isn't expensive—that's a basic way to describe RPA Marathon, an initiative that earned Turkcell the 2023 Talent Development Innovation Award. The idea behind the initiative is for employees to suggest ways for the company to automate business processes, enabling staff to upskill on digitalization while becoming more productive in tandem with reducing costs.
Turkcell, a Turkish telecommunication and technology services provider, views robotic process automation (RPA) as one of the most important levers of the digital transformation journey. RPA mimics employee behavior to complete routine, repetitive, and predictable tasks. The company designed the RPA Marathon after discovering that many aspects of employees' workloads were repetitive, leading to boredom and unproductivity among workers. The initiative entails a full year of activity that includes ideathons, seminars, and hackathons.
"We, as Turkcell Academy, believe that all of our employees have potential and talents that are just waiting to be revealed and developed," says Tuana Begüm Akdemir, program manager of Turkcell Academy. "Our goal is to help our employees become aware of this potential and use it both to improve themselves and the company. In this context, we support our employees in realizing their potential with the systems and approaches we have developed to take their talent ... to the highest level."
The RPA Marathon launched in March 2022 with an ideathon, during which employees applied for the program with their concepts and built their teams. Turkcell Academy facilitated the teams with a design-thinking approach to enhance their ideas. The first ideathon garnered 65 ideas, and internal judges rated the submissions and announced winners.
After that, the training part of the marathon began, wherein employees learned how to further develop the winning ideas. The training program has several levels, including a four-hour online module on scenario writing in RPA Ghost, a Turkcell-developed software available internally and externally for RPA implementation and coding.
The second level of training is a two-day, in-class session where employees complete several RPA scenarios, after which internal technical experts mentor the participants regarding their automation projects. More than 700 employees participated in the in-class training during the program's first year.
The company then invited individuals who completed the program to participate in a 72-hour hackathon during which participants actualize the winning ideas. Last year, the company hosted two hackathons.
In total, 2,372 people have participated in at least one RPA Marathon event, thus taking part in upskilling and reskilling initiatives while exhibiting creativity and improving productivity. As a result of implementing the automation initiatives derived from the ideathon, Turkcell gained 11.1 million minutes (approximately 185,000 hours) in employee time from the RPA Marathon. As the company continues hosting marathons, it expects not only more automated processes, but the entire workforce to be equipped with the knowledge to use RPA technology as well.
"All our development programs are based on our leadership model, Turkcell Ecosystem Leadership, which embraces not only our leaders but also all of our employees," says Akdemir, because the company believes that each employee is a leader in their own right.