1 purpose, 2 pilots

With the constant need to get things done ever faster and better, time has become an extremely valuable commodity. If we can automate routine tasks such as recording new employment details or sick days and gain time in the process, it’s a double win. Clients get more added value and benefit from watertight processes, while SD Worx staff can focus on more interesting tasks, proactivity and personal interactions.

Can robotics process automation (RPA) take over routine tasks?

Yes, according to Wim De Clercq, business unit manager at SD Worx Belgium:

“During the first few months of 2017, we examined the potential for RPA to be used for certain processes. We looked at criteria such as volume and repetition and gauged potential accordingly. It soon became clear that this potential was enormous. After this, we developed and initiated a pilot project in partnership with BrightKnight – a spin-off of Belgian banking giant Belfius and a developer of automation processes. Our vision? To provide a digital assistant to each employee that helps them with routine tasks. As a result, they can focus on the interesting parts of their jobs, proactivity and human interaction. Using the Blue Prism software, which has already been implemented by major clients worldwide, we automated two post-payroll reporting processes. Various reports need to be sent to different offices and branches after each payroll run. Our robot currently manages this flow automatically within a carefully guarded internal testing environment. We started doing this for a dozen clients at first, and then gradually expanded the project to around 50 clients in total. The results look really promising!”

Yes, says Steve Hawley, Operations Director at SD Worx UK & Ireland:

“We ran the same experiment in the UK. However, in this case, we focussed on a single process at a single client. But with approximately 150,000 employees, this British major retailer is definitely large enough to produce relevant results.

The stores notify HR shared service centre when a colleague is absent from work. The HR Shared service centre then emails the notification to SD Worx where the absence was then keyed manually into the payroll absence module for payment. Around 7,000 absences were recorded this way each month. It was clear from the start that RPA would offer massive time savings and boost process efficiency. We set up the new system in July 2017, but we couldn’t be slapdash: it was important to take a carefully planned step-by-step approach which entailed parallel running of all absence notifications. The system finally went live at the beginning of 2018 and approximately 75% of absentee records are now managed by the RPA system. It’s quick and easy!”

More robotics in the future?

ABSOLUTELY, according to Wim and Steve:

“Belgium, the UK and Ireland have moved on from the pilot phase. The next step will be to introduce RPA on a much broader scale. That’s why we need to build expertise. A team of business analysts will examine the potential for RPA. For 2018 we will focus on Belgium, Germany, UK and Ireland. We also established a Center of Excellence for Robotics and appointed Sven Erkens as its manager. We have trained four full-time robot engineers in Mauritius who will implement and maintain the RPA software. They will also work alongside local business analysts to automate other processes.”