Client:Wesco International

Region:North America


How citizen developers power up Wesco's automation program

How citizen developers power up Wesco's automation program


citizen developers across all functional areas of the company


of executable automation ideas come from citizen developers


microbots created by citizen developers won the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Trailblazer award for Wesco

Since 2019, Wesco, a global supply chain solutions provider, has been actively fostering citizen development. Prompt results followed: alongside COE-built automations, the automations designed by citizen developers or with citizen developers' help have saved the company 100,000+ hours annually.

Hemant Porwal, Executive Vice President – Supply Chain & Operations at Wesco, explains the story's start, current citizen developer operations, and the company's plans for the program's growth. As a bonus, he outlines three key ingredients for successfully launching your own citizen developer program.

Wesco's path to a combined approach to automation

Wesco's Intelligent Automation (IA) program started in early 2019 as a traditional centralized center of excellence (CoE). After successful pilot projects, the company found that major automation opportunities came from a few early adopters and their departments. "Six months into the program, we were doing great in terms of pipeline and ROI, but we were not scaling into every functional area of the business," says Porwal. Wesco realized that the traditional top-down approach with CoE implementing every automation opportunity was not enough, so they had to come up with an alternative.

Prerequisites for launching a robust citizen developer program

Citizen development met Wesco's needs but sparked worries about shadow IT, security and data integrity, increased tech workload, and administration costs. To avoid those risks, the IA CoE partnered with IT and business units to build the framework and establish the governance process. The primary objective was to ensure that projects created by citizen developers would complement the IT offering instead of competing with it.

The cornerstone of Wesco's citizen developer framework is the preapproval of citizen ideas by business process owners, the CoE, and IT.

  • Business process owner confirms the automation idea is relevant to the business, consistent with the company's best practices, and offers the declared value.

  • CoE reviews the idea for complexity and suitability, validates business estimates for value, and confirms it will be able to maintain and support the automation as needed.

  • The IT team ensures the automation idea complies with the security standards and the technology roadmap, and the same results can't be achieved through configuration or minor tweaks to the existing company systems.

While the framework may look complex, it takes users 10-15 minutes to submit the idea to UiPath Automation Hub, and most of the ideas get approved the same or the very next day. If the automation is rejected, the CoE provides a detailed explanation to a citizen developer and suggests an alternative way of achieving the same results.

In addition to the framework, Wesco has developed a training plan that combines weekly webinars with asynchronous learning at UiPath Academy. Besides the actual robot development, the training focuses on automation awareness and opportunity identification—to help citizen developers become automation champions within their departments.

The evolution of Wesco's citizen developer program

With approved governance and training plans, Wesco launched its first citizen developer program with 20 participants. Within the first 60 days, many automations built by citizen developers went into production. Moreover, the CoE received 25 high-quality automation ideas from multiple functional areas that hadn't been involved in automation before.

Since then, the program has evolved, with over 200 trained citizen developers using UiPath Automation Hub for idea contribution and UiPath Studio for automation design. Ideas submitted by citizen developers tend to score high in suitability, have less complexity, and offer value to the business.

We configured UiPath Automation Hub so that any of Wesco's approximately 20,000 employees worldwide could submit their automation ideas easily. Citizen developers contribute around 60% of approved ideas.

Hemant Porwal - headshot

In the coming years, Wesco plans to evolve its citizen developer program even further. In addition to training citizen developers, the company wants to open introductory Intelligent Automation training to all employees. CoE also supports Wesco workplace inclusion and diversity programs by partnering with the company's business resource groups and making training available to members.

The CoE role: enablement and empowerment

Another vital element of the successful citizen developer program is ongoing CoE support.

Wesco CoE actively nurtures collaboration between citizen developers and professional developers. Professional developers help citizen developers with their projects, answer questions about UiPath Studio, add error handling and logging, switch to service accounts, and put automations to production. From that point onward, automation is owned and supported by the CoE.

According to Porwal, it's important to keep in mind that citizen developers are business employees. They're neither trained nor interested in becoming professional developers, and the CoE doesn't own their time.

We cannot expect every citizen developer to build complex end-to-end automations, but every citizen developer can identify the processes they want to automate within their scope of control, skills, and business knowledge. The goal of the CoE is to meet each person where they are.

Hemant Porwal, Executive VP – Supply Chain & Operations, Wesco

Recently, Wesco won a prestigious Trailblazer award from the ISM one of the largest organizations in the supply chain industry. Porwal explains that the award was given for the automations designed primarily by citizen developers. Specifically, citizen developers built a collection of 100+ automations, where each bot gathered and validated open orders for a specific supplier and normalized order status formats. Then, the CoE-built bots picked up those files for later processing and enterprise resource planning (ERP) updates.

How to set your citizen developer program for success

As a bonus, Porwal has agreed to share his top three recommendations for the companies launching their citizen development program.

  • Set clear governance and value calculation methodology that works for your organization. Get the framework documented and approved by C-level, IT, and audit teams.

  • Set a realistic timeline and manage your expectations. Citizen developers are full-time employees of their respective teams, and the CoE can't control their priorities, time allocation, or pace of execution. Also, citizen developers aren't professional developers; their automations will need to be improved before production.

  • Enjoy the journey. Working with citizen developers benefits the company and the employees, yet the most rewarding part is preparing people for the future of work and making a lasting and meaningful impact on their careers.

Explore more real-world stories on democratizing innovation in our latest citizen developer e-book.

Related case studies

How Xerox Created a New Business Model with UiPath Automation

Case Study

From Documents to Digitization. How Xerox Created a New Business Model with UiPath Automation
Read the case study
Contact Center

Case Study

“Agents love it” – the inside story of an automation-powered contact center
Read the case study
Dexcom's journey

Case Study

Dexcom's journey to efficiency with AI-powered automation, unlocking 200,000 hours
Read the case study

Ready for your own case study?

Speak to our team of knowledgeable experts and learn how you can benefit from RPA.