DHL Global Forwarding, Freight (DGFF) needs to improve its finance and logistics processes across its five Global Service Centers (GSC).
Its goal is to create a global process automation hub to remove internal process bottlenecks and position the entire organization to continue to provide top-notch service.
Its solution is a classical Human Delivery Center structure complemented by a Virtual Delivery Center enabled by the UiPath Enterprise RPA Platform.
DGFF is the leading provider of air, ocean, and overland freight-forwarding services within Deutsche Post DHL Group. It brokers transport services between customers and freight carriers to offer the most efficient routing and transport services possible. DGFF has a Global Service Center unit with five centers and more than 4,500 employees.
To ensure that it continues to provide the best services possible—as efficiently as possible— DGFF selected UiPath as its technology partner to create a global process automation hub. The goal is to use innovative technologies, such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation), to streamline vital internal processes. This ensures that the shared-services model operates at peak performance to enable the Division's ongoing business goals.
Frank Schüler, Managing Director of DGFF's Global Service Center (GSC) unit, provided more insight into the Division's decision to collaborate with UiPath:
"We planned for a digital transformation effort to make our Global Service Centers as efficient and as productive as possible, and we saw UiPath as the best complement to this effort," he said. "We wanted to automate, even eliminate, time-consuming, repetitive tasks, free up internal resources, and empower all of our employees to provide the best services for our customers and partners. We knew UiPath's products could deliver all of this—and more."
Planning for RPA success
DGFF started collaborating with UiPath's Global Partner Capgemini and its consulting services division to create an effective RPA deployment plan. As part of the engagement, Capgemini helped DGFF develop a project roadmap, establish governance models and other protocols, and identify "quick wins" that would be ideal process automation candidates.
"We were very thorough and examined just about every part of our Global Service Center organization," explained Schüler. "We had guidelines in place to find those processes that required our employee's manual intervention. We also searched for processes that consisted of sub-tasks that handled a high volume of transactions using business rules or structured data. We knew these tasks were best suited for automation."
A pilot program exceeds expectations
DGFF started with a process automation pilot project it dubbed "Post Flight." A UiPath Robot extracted data from the Division's operations system and combined it with critical flight data, such as whether or not a partner's flight was on time. The Post Flight Robot then produced a report that the operations team used to manage only the exceptions.
This increased insight was extremely valuable, but so too were the internal efficiency gains. Before this, DGFF had a team of 30 employees in place to complete the same process. With the UiPath Enterprise RPA Platform, 15 of these employees moved to higher-value, more rewarding work. The remaining employees now manage this activity based on exceptions leading to better customer service in terms of providing increased transparency in the supply chain about potential delays.
Dr. Frank Schüler Managing Director, Global Service Center, DHL Global Forwarding, Freight
We planned for a digital transformation effort to make our Global Service Centers as efficient and as productive as possible, and we saw UiPath as a perfect complement to this project. We knew we wanted to automate, even eliminate, time-consuming, manually repetitive tasks, free up internal resources, and empower our employees to provide the best services for our customers and partners. We knew UiPath's RPA could deliver all of this—and more.
All of these results added up where it mattered most: higher service quality at significant cost savings and an impressive ROI.
"Our pilot program was such a success that we were able to achieve a complete return on investment for the "Post Flight" pilot project in just one month," said Schüler.
Promoting RPA value with a Center of Excellence
At this point, DGFF saw the full potential of the RPA technology and quickly set out to provide process automation as a new offering within its shared service centers, as well as, a service for the entire Division.
To achieve this vision, DGFF first created a Center of Excellence (CoE) defining the standards for RPA based process automation of DGFF, a Virtual Delivery Center (VDC) providing the respective configuration and run services and a process automation lifecycle, which is called "Idea2Robot". Vini Kolathur leads the VDC, and the CoE in parallel to his role of leading sizable Human Delivery Center in Chennai, India.
"The VDC and COE are the same people but with two different mandates," Kolathur explained. "With our Center of Excellence, we wanted to create an internal framework that encapsulated our entire process automation experience with UiPath—everything from idea to a production robot—to describe the various people involved, the governance model, standards, tools, and templates. This is critical in becoming a ‘lighthouse' to show our business partner of DGFF and our employees in the service center the value of automation and help us successfully continue our Process Automation UiPath-based journey."
DGFF's Process Automation CoE helps to explore and promote opportunities based on RPA technology within the Division. It also defines process automation standards for the entire Division and facilitates a community spirit across its operating Regions and Countries by sharing lessons learned and other best practices.
Creating the Virtual Delivery Center
The Virtual Delivery Center (VDC) is a newer unit with the Global Service Centers, with nearly 30 employees focused on providing process automation as a service to help DGFF better serve its customers and partners.
Dr. Frank Schüler Managing Director, Global Service Center, DHL Global Forwarding, Freight
Our pilot program was such a success that we were able to achieve a complete return on investment for this project in just one month.
"As a captive shared services organization, our core business, our key knowledge, and expertise is to go into a country, to look at their process, to document process, to optimize that process, take the process with us, and train colleagues of ourselves in Europe, in China, or South America, to actually do this task and provide the service for this process off-shore. Now, if you look at a bot that becomes very similar, right? We are still doing the same. We are looking at the process, we are documenting the process, we are taking the process with us, and now we are configuring a bot. So, the entire setup is very similar and that's why from an initial start. We are talking clearly about a human delivery and a virtual delivery to advocate for the similarities between those two different approaches with the resources having unique strength."
BY THE NUMBERS
- 50%DHL Global Forwarding, Freight was able to take 15 of 30 of its employees off a particular manual-based process as a pilot —50% of total resources now able to focus on more value-adding tasks.
- 300The workload of 300 FTEs is currently provided by Robots. This allows employees to be able to focus on more value-added work initiatives.
- 1DHL Global Forwarding, Freight was able to achieve a complete ROI for its first pilot in just one month.
- 80DHL Global Forwarding, Freight currently has deployed over 80 UiPath-based Robots in less than one year.
Kolathur explained how RPA technology enables the Virtual Delivery Center to deliver new benefits throughout the entire Division. "With our shared-service model, we can go to a site in any country, document a specific process, automate and optimize it with RPA, and then train our colleagues in Europe, India, China or South America to use the RPA-based solution to provide the service for this process. Where we once delivered these services with human employees only, we now provide our service by virtual and human delivery working hand-in-hand and across the entire organization, which is a significant advantage."
What comes next?
As DGFF looks ahead, both Schüler and Kolathur see a future where the Shared Service Center and DGFF alike can combine RPA with other advanced technologies, such as smart optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to further automate the capturing and analyses of structured and unstructured data. All workforces – being human or virtual – will be orchestrated by one holistic enterprise-wide service management platform.
"Our ultimate goal is to provide end-to-end process automation," said Schüler. "We are extremely happy about where we stand with UiPath today. We are confident that we have the right model and the right platform in place. We will continue to take additional steps to achieve additional benefits, and we're excited to accomplish even more with UiPath as our partner."