Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is being used in the front line of many organsiations to streamline and automate processes. Simon Jackson, Source’s Automation Practice lead, interviewed James Hall and Jane Youdall of Genfour about RPA within the RAC. James is a Director at Genfour, a provider of ‘robots-as-a-service’, and Jane is their Head of Operations. Source (www.source.co.uk) are an outsourcing advisory firm who combine independent advice & expertise, practical support and hands-on training and our customers say that it is transforming the way in which they work with their strategic providers.
Simon – James how did you get involved with the RAC?
James – The RAC were migrating to a new system that was an ‘off the shelf package’ and therefore was less configurable than the existing legacy systems. Through a gap analysis they identified a number of processes that their new system could not complete as they would have liked. Robotic Process Automation lends itself to such scenarios as it is relatively inexpensive, very flexible and much quicker to implement than traditional IT solutions.
Simon – What about the legacy systems.
James – The legacy system is still in use, the RAC repatriated a number of processes last year that we have now automated for them.
Simon – So RPA has been used here as an alternative to outsourcing?
James – Absolutely, RPA can be an alternative, cheaper model than outsourcing for end customers.
Simon – So Jane you were responsible for the implementation of RPA within the RAC, how many processes were automated in total?
Jane – In total 10 processes were automated; 4 in the legacy system and 6 in the new system. In total this saved the RAC hundreds of thousands of pounds in operational and traditional IT costs in the first year.
Simon – So talk me through a couple of processes that were automated please.
Jane – Within the legacy system we automated their returned mail process. A file from Royal Mail is sent daily to provide detail of ‘gone away’ or ‘change of address’ etc activity. As you can imagine the volumes are high.
Simon – So what did the RPA software do exactly?
Jane – Using defined business rules it was able, for each of the scenarios, to complete an outcome e.g. update the new address details, or update the system that a customer had ‘gone away’ so that the next time the customer contacted the RAC the advisor was prepared to ask the right questions to gather the new address details. Now 98% of returned mail files to the RAC are competed via RPA.
Simon – That’s great. What other benefits does it give the RAC?
Jane – The employees are able to use their skills in different, less mundane areas, also with processes like this the chance of a human error, e.g. typing incorrect address
Simon – As we mentioned earlier you also automated processes in their new system.
Jane – Yes. A number of time critical processes within their billing and collection activity were automated.
Simon – Can you give an example?
Jane – They have a process called ‘Pay fail’: a credit card payment fails during the previous batch run, maybe from something as simple as the date has expired and needs updating by the customer. We built and automated a process that identified that the Pay Fail had rejected and then build a number of business rules that allowed the attempt to collect payment to be resubmitted automatically.
Simon – I would imagine in some instances manual intervention was required?
Jane – Yes, but the automation categorised and allocated the exception so they went to the correct member of staff along with a reason why it had failed so they didn’t have to search the system for an answer. Also the volumes of exceptions were much higher after a weekend so we were able to allocate more robots from a less time critical process to avoid creating any backlogs.
Simon – Another great advantage of RPA.
Jane – Yes the robots are both process and system agnostic. They work on the legacy and the new system and on any of the processes that the RAC decide are their priorities.
Simon – And of course they work for a lot longer.
Jane – Yes in RAC some of the processes work for up to 17 hours a day.
Simon – Finally Jane, what were the timescales to deliver this successful programme?
Jane – To complete the gap analysis, document all of the processes, build, fully test, implement and embed each process has taken around 18 months. So each process took around 8 weeks to implement, which is far quicker than many traditional IT projects.
Simon – So in summary, the RAC automated processes that they had repatriated, and are using automation to great effect on both new and legacy systems. I would like to thank both James and Jane from Genfour for talking about this great example of RPA in action.