WorkFusion’s goal, when we first put our free robotic process automation software product, RPA Express*, out in the world, was to enable individuals, growth-stage companies and teams within large companies to take the initiative to drive growth and reduce cost with self-service automation. Now, just over a year later, we’ve heard from many companies that RPA Express has helped make their workflows more efficient and employees happier. In this new series, you’ll read their stories in their own words.
In this edition, meet Wilbert van Leeuwen, co-founder of Peacock Insights, a consulting firm in The Netherlands that aims to deliver reliable, affordable and manageable business intelligence and RPA solutions to its clients. We asked him to tell us how Peacock helped Dutch paving company De Krom turn a formerly painful business process into a quick and streamlined workflow with RPA Express.
WorkFusion: Tell us about the company behind your RPA Express success story?
Wilbert van Leeuwen: De Krom is a family-run firm with nearly 100 employees and a young and energetic management team. The two brothers who run the firm are always looking for opportunities to make their processes smarter and lighten their employees’ manual workload. For example, they are developing their own paving robot to drastically reduce human labor on large paving projects. When we first presented RPA Express to De Krom, they thought it was too good to be true. But they quickly realized that it was indeed real and would add great value.
What was the problem you helped De Krom solve with RPA Express?
We automated a time-consuming data entry process that involved collecting, checking and routing reports on 50–80 work orders for sub-contractors. It involved these steps:
- Two business office employees collect and check work reports that are submitted by project managers in Excel forms.
- They then enter the data into an ERP software.
- They email the reports as PDF files to each sub-contractor.
The process took up 16 to 24 hours per week between the two employees, making it difficult for them to manage their workload and often forcing them to work weekends.
What does the process look like now?
All the tasks that were done by the business office are now performed by an RPA Express bot. After each run, the bot sends an email to the business office with a report on which work orders are processed and why some couldn’t be processed. These exceptions happen when work orders have input irregularities, such as an old version of an Excel form, missing project numbers or other incomplete fields. The business office then reviews those cases and decides whether they can adjust the work order themselves or if the project manager needs to be involved.
How did you redesign the process?
In order to perform the redesign, we collaborated closely with the business office employees to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. Automating the process also provided an opportunity to improve it. The funny thing is that even though we didn’t change the data input process (Excel forms reported by project managers), we have noticed the quality of those documents have improved because the RPA Express bot flags work orders which aren’t entirely correct. This provided clear and structured feedback to the project managers, which increased the rate of correctly completed work orders. Last week we even reached a 100% “ right the first time” rate, which clearly represents the efficiency that is gained in the process.
How long did it take to implement the automated process?
The total time spent was around 60 hours, with a lead time of four weeks until deployment and three weeks of post-implementation monitoring.
What have the benefits been of using RPA Express?
The process decreased the human effort by 90% from an average of 20 hours to an average of two hours per week. Based on the costs for implementation vs. the benefits in time saved, we realized an ROI around three or four months.
What do the people in the business office do now that they have more time?
First of all, they don’t need to spend their weekends processing work orders anymore. Secondly, their workday has been alleviated of a dreary and time-consuming task, which allows them to have more time to do more impactful work, like performing cost-control monitoring, help project managers improve project monitoring on large projects, and assist on sales projects.
Do you have any special tips for successful implementation?
This was our first project where we performed a feasibility check before redesigning the processes. This showed the clients that a robot could operate in their specific IT environment, which built early confidence in the project. We recommend performing such checks when a client is unsure whether the IT environment is ready for RPA or when they are using unfamiliar applications.
We also highly recommend post-implementation monitoring. It’s hard to predict everything that could happen in the development phase. When you include a post-implementation phase into your scope of work, you can manage your client’s expectations and prevent unnecessary disappointments.
* RPA Express is no longer included in WorkFusion’s product offering.
Also published on Medium.