Intelligently automating disputes resolution
Complications take time and cost money to address, and so it’s no surprise that in early 2019, a major client of ours decided to explore the possibility of automating elements of its disputes resolution function. The main objectives were to optimize staffing, reduce costs, increase throughput and accuracy, reduce resolution time, and introduce analytics so as to scope the possibility of further improvements down the line.
The challenge – reduce or eliminate the burden and cost of manual processing
The manual nature of the status quo on disputes resolution was proving a burden: staff turnover was fairly high, it was taking over six months to bring new joiners fully up to speed, and there was a significant overhead of work that was either non-productive, or non-billable, or both.
It was hoped that automation would address these issues to enable frictionless processing, while also rationalizing the department’s need to support 24 languages.
The solution – global, scalable, collaborative, and intelligent automation
The automation solution we have developed is both global and scalable in its scope. It has been based on the premise of coherent collaboration with human beings, and it includes several key constituent parts.
The first is an “automation anywhere” robotic process automation (RPA) element, which acts as a data bridge between all the solution components and the client’s various target systems. This marshals data from all these systems, logs every transaction step to generate a digital audit log, executes process outcomes, and manages transaction status with PeopleSoft’s Disputes Management Workflow. It also synchronizes data master tables between PeopleSoft and the solution’s various components.
The second constituent part is a language processing engine, which reads inbound emails to identify request types. It then automatically indexes and allocates transactions for automated processing, whether they be rebill procedures, credit adjustments, or copy documents. Where necessary, it assigns work to other departments, such as collections and master data, etc. It also identifies, auto-indexes and closes any spam mails.
The third main part – the heart of the solution – is the business rule engine. This element uses more than 6,100 configured business logics and master reference data to certify transactions, which are then routed for automated processing. Exceptions are routed for manual resolution, and finally, an audit trail is maintained for all transactions.
The outcomes – going frictionless
The approach taken not only introduced intelligent automation to the disputes resolution process – it has also embedded the principles of Capgemini’s Frictionless Enterprise approach into the client’s overall finance and administration function, enabling a smooth and seamless flow of information and collaboration between employees, their departments, and those with whom they work. It also encompasses their relationship with suppliers, partners, and obviously customers.
The benefits of the solution have included:
- €1.4 million per-year savings, by reallocating FTE headcount
- APAC turnaround time reduced from 5 days to 1 day
- Automated language processing for 76% of overall disputes volume
- Eliminating between approximately 60–75% of current manual effort.
Anna Ordowska has extensive experience in intelligent automation solutioning and deployment.
Kabir Bazliel helps clients to leverage intelligent automation and AI assets to realize disruptive transformation outcomes.
Automated invoicing – a packaged solution
Which means, in turn, that every improvement you can make is likely to result in benefits at scale, too.
The challenge – reducing monotony, increasing efficiency
Our relationship with our packaging client extends all the way back to 2006. The service has covered Procure-to-Pay (P2P), Credit-to-Cash (C2C), and Record-to-Analyze (R2A) for over 130 entities in 70 countries.
In 2017, the organization sought to automate repetitive accounting tasks and thereby reduce the number of full-time employees who were currently engaged in them.
The solution – phased RPA implementation
When the project began, robotic process automation (RPA) had not yet been widely adopted. To create an environment conducive to its implementation, Capgemini streamlined existing processes, reimagining them as sequences of typical human behavior, such as watching, listening, thinking, and acting.
With key opportunities identified, an internal project team was assigned and trained in RPA techniques. These techniques were used to analyze current processes and design RPA artefacts that would replace them. At first, artefacts were run in attended mode, but they were switched in stages to run in unattended mode, and automated running schedules were established, operated from a central location.
Next, all local artefacts were migrated to a virtual data center, and round-the-clock running schedules were set up in Orchestrator. Workflow was standardized for artefact development and operation, and Kibana was introduced to monitor the RPA performance.
Orchestrator coordinates automated processes across three accounting functions:
- P2P – purchase order/non purchase order processing; reversals; travel and expenses auto payment runs; payment duplication checking and blocking suspected items; and manual payments
- O2C – customer remittance clearing; customer ledger clearing; journal posting; and bank statement downloads and bank booking
- R2A – accounts receivable/accounts payable netting runs; inter-company reconciliation and balance sheet packs; vendor accrual processes; and VAT reporting processes.
Support is provided to the client organization in eight languages, from two delivery centers – one in Blumenau, Brazil, and the other in Nanhai, China.
The outcomes – going frictionless
The program has transformed not only processes, but attitudes: people’s mindsets have changed, and they have comfortably embraced the notion of having robots as co-workers. It’s not simply having a new tool at work, but a whole new way of working, with continuing efforts to optimize artefact processes and reduce robot average run times. In turn, this helps deliver – what we call – the Frictionless Enterprise.
Across this global organization, it’s making a significant difference:
- Almost 530 work items processed in 2019
- Total of 52 P2P, O2C, and R2R processes developed
- Improved and high accuracy (99.99%)
- 60 full-time employees have been released since RPA implementation, accounting for 41% of original team size
- Over €1 million revenue generated.
Peter Chen is the engagement manger responsible for providing world-class service to this client. During the RPA transformation, he restructured and trained the team, and implemented the RPA artefact schedule to achieve an innovative “Robot + Human” process model.
June Liu manages the overall O2C operations for this client. She was also responsible for RPA implementation, development progress, and maintenance after go-live. June delivers RPA adoption training and communications to Capgemini’s delivery staff and client teams that boosts RPA adoption and enables significant cost reduction.
From a small idea – to a major benefit
The challenge – streamlining order-to-cash
The objective of the program was to deploy an end-to-end digital solution for Capgemini customer invoicing, from invoice initiation, through the global finance system (GFS) booking process, through to distribution of invoices to customers. The main benefits that were sought from this automation exercise were:
- A contribution to cash improvement by shortening invoice cycle time (increased speed of processing) in order-to-cash (O2C) activities
- Elimination of manual work, freeing up full-time employees for other tasks
- Greater compliance and fewer errors.
The solution – Digital Customer Invoicing Solution
The project started from a simple need to create a macro O2C routine, but it was soon realized that much more might be possible. Capgemini’s Digital Customer Invoicing Solution (DCIS) was put to work. It’s an innovative solution to accelerate O2C business process automation, comprising a PHP-based decision-making user interface; a SQL database; and automation in a form that brings together real-time integration (API) and UiPath bots.
Because this wasn’t an enterprise-wide exercise, it was possible to undertake it in short sprints, overlapping and in parallel. That way, if something wasn’t working, it would be noticed and addressed quickly, without being to the detriment of the whole project. For the same reason, this “test-iterate-test” approach promoted innovation and collaboration. In addition, it enabled the team to identify winning tactical elements faster.
The project also provided the opportunity to streamline the underlying customer invoicing processes to deliver frictionless operations. These improvements included:
- Elimination of the draft approval process thanks to real-time previews of invoice drafts
- Tasks centralization and management, conducted by a dedicated team to drive compliance and automation in an industrialized manner (fewer incorrect invoices and rework activities)
- Improved processing time in the GFS as a result of automating the transactional invoice creation process and 24/7 solution availability
- Full automation of transactional invoice creation process
Mass uploads of invoicing input, eliminating individual event entries into the GFS. This significantly improved invoice creation turnaround time in the case of multiline transactions.
Specific benefits of the program have been outlined below. However, it is also worth noting that in general terms, the exercise inspired engagement delivery experts to look at other processes afresh – including from a “how to automate?” perspective.
What’s more, its success has created greater awareness throughout the organization of the broad power of innovation, and of the significant impact it can have on internal and external ecosystems – even when, as here, it’s something that started out small.
The outcomes – going frictionless
The innovation delivered by our teams has enabled our client to take full advantage of O2C business process improvements. In turn, this has helped us deliver – what we call – the Frictionless Enterprise, leading to:
- A significant increase in the number of customer invoices that are handled automatically. The project is on track to deliver 75% of global volumes in scope by the end of 2020
- Elimination of manual work, resulting in an estimated productivity increase in 2020 that is the equivalent of around 35 full-time employees, who can now be relieved of repetitive low-level tasks and assigned to more rewarding activities
- Standardization of processes across the organization’s operating regions: over 90% of robotized processes have been reusable in other geographies
- Greater compliance and fewer errors
- Unique employee digital experience, replacing emails with communications via an innovative and rewarding process conducted within the tool
- Beneficial environmental impact – the solution has enabled the organization to replace printing and paper storage with a system of electronic invoice distribution to customers.
When the initiative first started, the small nature of the project meant our teams had the freedom to experiment and shape the product evolution strategy. However, the project soon became a CFO priority for the client covering key geographies.
Bartosz Grochowski is Intelligent Automation Service Delivery Lead for Capgemini Global Shared Service Finance.