In what typically is a traditionally conservative industry, Alter Domus has embarked on a journey to incorporate automation and artificial intelligence (AI) into the very fabric of the company with an eye for excellence in customer service, employee satisfaction and work-life balance.
Alter Domus operates in one of the most client-focused industry sectors. Its investment strategies impact the livelihoods of companies and individuals worldwide. Constantly improving the service it can deliver to customers is essential. When the company began its automation journey in 2019, it found the perfect partner in UiPath that matched its vision of continuous innovation.
Some automation journeys begin with a careful step. Others start with a sprint and accelerate from there. Alter Domus selected the second approach. Within the first six months, it has delivered 10 robots and automated over 20 processes. It has rolled out automations across Europe and North America, with Asia to follow shortly. A central Automation Center of Excellence has been established that is now continuously deploying new robots to tackle repetitive processes to reduce errors and provide even faster turnaround times for their clients.
In addition, automation journeys often begin with Robotic Process Automaton (RPA) and transition into Intelligent Automaton (IA) by integrating Artificial Intelligence capabilities. Alter Domus did things a little differently and started with intelligent automation, but this wasn’t a gamble as it had carefully selected the best team that has ran some of the most successful automation programs in the world.
Innovation aimed at the employee
Alter Domus has achieved a reputation for excellence that has led to impressive growth across its key territories. Doug Hart, the company’s CEO, outlines its vision: “Our clients deserve a reliable partner with the scalability to grow alongside them.”
Building that scalability requires developing business capacity and Danilo and his team are using automation as a means to improve the employee experience by reducing mundane tasks and freeing staff to higher value, more rewarding tasks that provide real benefit to customers, thus heightening the client experience.
Danilo McGarryHead of Automation, Alter Domus
“Most organizations have an unclear goal or reason why they are using automation. For us at Alter Domus it is very clear – it’s all about providing unparalleled customer and employee experiences. We want to give our employees the tools they need to help them excel in their roles. We’re famous in the industry for being bespoke in everything we do. So the more we can empower our employees and capacitate them to focus even more on our clients, we’re able to continually deliver superior customer experience as well. It is because of all this that we are making a significant investment into this technology partnering with and hiring only the best possible.”
He points out that employees work extremely hard to meet customer expectations and at key points – such as month’s end – this can mean working very long hours. This affects the work-life balance. However, many of the manual and repetitive tasks that staff are undertaking are essential but consume time but add little value. Automation has allowed the company to increase capacity to meet the increased volumes of work from a growing global business while also ensuring clients are at the heart of everything we do.
A good example of the types of processes that Alter Domus has been automating include dealing with documents such as financial statements and accounts statements, where information has to be identified and captured with bank statements and then accessing the accounts software and recording each of those transactions manually.
It’s the type of process that has many small variations but is conducted multiple times every day by multiple teams in multiple locations. It’s time-consuming and can be prone to human error leading to extra work to rectify any issues. Deploying a software robot frees up employee capacity across the world, while also improving processing time and data quality.
The company is using intelligent automation based around advanced UiPath solutions including Document Understanding, AI Fabric and UiPath Orchestrator.
Davendra Patel, Senior RPA Developer, comments:
Davendra Patel Senior RPA Developer
“We have lots of instances where we need to grab documents from portals and sites... This was a problem we’ve had for a long time, but within two weeks we were able to build a working solution that can be rolled out to teams globally.”
Olivia Minshall, Head of Automation Development, comments “We use Orchestrator to manage our automations in production, but it also helps us to integrate with other systems. For example, data must go through our validation station, which is outside our RPA ecosystem. Orchestrator seamlessly makes the validation server part of the environment so documents can be automatically validated, and staff only need to deal with the exceptions. That’s the key to UiPath. The company keeps bringing incredible solutions to the market that we haven’t seen before. The business come and say, ‘can you do this’ and now we’re able to say, ‘yes we can’,” she continues.
Everyone is part of the automation team
From the outset, Danilo and his team have adopted an ‘automation first’ approach. They quickly established an Innovation and Automation Center of Excellence in Europe and commenced a program of education designed to encourage business users in all its worldwide offices to engage in the automation journey.
A core element of encouraging employee involvement is the company’s use of UiPath Automation Hub. This allows users anywhere in the organization to submit their suggestions about automations they’d like. The features within the Hub can then help the team prioritize which process to proceed with. These are finally passed to the automation committee for final approval. In this way, the company was able to establish a healthy pipeline with major buy-in across the business.
Zen Hu, Automation Business Analyst, says “The automation team offers employees more than involvement in the automation program. Our strategy has always been to grow organically by encouraging people keen to reskill to become developers and business analysts. That is how I got into the Automation Team through an organic internal transfer. Our ability to develop new career paths within the business is another way that the team measures success as more employees apply to become automation experts through our Automation Champions Program”.
One such employee, Lucia Ortiz Tovar, now an Automation Business Analyst for the company, says: “I worked within the company’s Funds Management Team for two years before recently joining the Automation Team. The training I received from the team and UiPath was excellent. I’ve found it really easy to become an automation business analyst and, from knowing nothing about the area, I’m now helping to build automations for the company.”
Lucia Ortiz Tovar Automation Business Analyst
“The training I received from the team and UiPath was excellent. I’ve found it really easy to become an automation business analyst and, from knowing nothing about the area, I’m now helping build automations for the company.”
The key challenge? Keeping up with UiPath
By improving employee satisfaction, the company is beginning to see a positive impact on customer satisfaction. It has already established a lead in automation in the sector that does not only enable the organization to improve its services, but also shows customers in a traditionally conservative part of financial services what’s possible with digital technologies.
“Our goal is to embrace any technology that we believe will make us better at serving our customers. That’s why we’re so happy with our partners, such as UiPath. There is a constant stream of product innovations that we can try and see which will deliver the benefits we’re after, especially as we are part of UiPath’s select Early Adopters Program given our team’s well proven capabilities and history,” says Danilo.
Milestones for the short and long term
Ten offices holding the most employees are where most of the automation has been delivered and Alter Domus is now looking to scale the robots they have built and redeploy them in additional locations during the coming six months.
- 10Robots developed within 6 months
- 20Processes automated within 6 months
- 2Production automations rolled out to two continents, with a third in planning
- 1k hrsFreed for employees to concentrate on high value tasks that add real client value and improve their experience
- WeeksLong-standing document extraction issue solved in just weeks
- CareerNew career paths created for automation developers and business analysts
The goal is that in maximum 1.5 years from now automation would have touched almost every office.